Embark on a journey of a lifetime to one of the world’s last travel frontiers. This 16-day tour reveals the cultural and geographic wonders of Siberia and the Russian Far East. We begin in Irkutsk, a Cossack settlement and the cultural capital of Siberia, and then travel to the beautiful Lake Baikal, sacred to the indigenous Buryat people. We board the legendary Trans-Siberian for Ulan Ude, the centre of Russian Buddhism and gateway for Old Believer villages of the steppe. From here we fly via the surprisingly elegant border town of Khabarovsk to the wild and remote peninsula of Kamchatka, to explore its extraordinary landscape and the culture of its indigenous, husky-raising people. The tour ends in the bustling Pacific port of Vladivostok.
Irkutsk, a Cossack town where the exiled Decembrists sought to recreate the cultural life of St Petersburg
The immensity and tranquillity of Siberia’s Lake Baikal, with its stunning vistas of pine-studded islands
A journey on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway around the shores of Lake Baikal
The heart of Russian Buddhism at Ulan Ude’s resurgent datsans and monasteries
Private helicopter and walking tour of Kamchatka’s snow-capped volcanoes and the stupendous Valley of Geysers
Meet Kamchatka’s indigenous people, the husky-raising Koryak
The outstanding local seafood in the bustling Pacific port of Vladivostok
Days 1–2: Arrive Irkutsk, hear tales of exile at the Decembrist Museum.
Days 3–4: Travel to Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal, where we meet with a local shaman.
Day 5: Return to Irkutsk and retrace Siberia’s Civil War history at the Znamensky Monastery.
Day 6–9: Board the Trans-Siberian Railway for Ulan Ude. Encounter the ‘Old Believers’.
Days 10–11: Fly to Khabarovsk and tour the city. Cruise Amur River.
Days 12–14: Fly to Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky. Marvel at volcanoes and geysers by helicopter.
Days 15–16: Fly to Vladivostok, a vibrant Pacific port closed to foreigners until 1991.
Start & Finish
The tour begins at Irkutsk Airport and ends at our hotel in Vladivostok. Korean Airlines offers flights into Irkutsk and out of Vladivostok from Sydney or Brisbane, via Seoul. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
A detailed itinerary for this tour will be available in the coming months. To receive a copy of the published itinerary once available, please register your interest below and we will be sure to email you a copy. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 02 9235 0023.
Dr Matthew Dal Santo
A writer, historian and foreign affairs commentator, with Honours degrees from both Sydney and Cambridge Universities.
Dr Matthew Dal Santo is a writer, historian and foreign affairs commentator who currently resides in Copenhagen, Denmark. Born in Sydney, Matthew lived most of the past fifteen years in Europe. The current focus of his interest is Russia. From 2014 to 2017, Matthew was Danish Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, with a grant to study how Russians think of themselves in the light of their history 25 years after the collapse of Communism and 100 since the 1917 revolution. He is particularly interested in how the revival of Orthodoxy has encouraged the return of the age-old idea of ‘Holy Rus’ as well as rehabilitation of the culture and achievements of Imperial Russia, as for example in the canonisation in 2000 of the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family as saints. Matthew has travelled extensively in the Russian-speaking world, from Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus to Siberia and the Russian Far East. He is currently writing a book called The Romanovs and the Redemption of Putin’s Russia: Remaking Holy Rus. Before returning to academic work, Matthew was briefly a policy officer with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Matthew has a PhD in Ecclesiastical History from the University of Cambridge, where from 2005 to 2008 he held the Lightfoot Scholarship. In 2007 he was elected Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge’s leading college, and was appointed Associate Lecturer in the award-winning Faculty of History. Matthew also has an MPhil from Cambridge and a BA (Hons I) from the University of Sydney, where he won the University Medal in 2004.
In addition to English, Matthew speaks Danish, French, Italian and Russian.
We asked Matthew, what motivates him to lead a tour to Russia?
“I lead Academy Travel’s annual Russia tour. This is something I really enjoy. My aim with the tour is not only to provide people the opportunity to visit Russia’s famous historical sights and great collections of art in St Petersburg and Moscow, but also a chance to engage first-hand with the way the identity and world view of this most perplexing of countries has been transformed in the two and half decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union. My lectures take a close look at Russian history and politics, with the aim of showing how ‘Putin’s Russia’ (so-called) is still grappling with processes set in motion hundreds of years ago, often in ways that have a deep effect on Russia’s often difficult relations with the West.
Coming from a long line of teachers, I also find the training and development tours that I lead for the NSW History Teachers’ Association a great source of pleasure and inspiration. Of course, Russia is a very big country and my view is that too few people ever get to its vast reaches east of the Urals. In the future I would like to offer a tour of Siberia from beautiful Lake Baikal to Russia’s eastern capital and gateway to Japan and China, Vladivostok. I also have a budding interest in the naturally spectacular and culturally rich Caucasus…”
As Siberia and the Russian Far East are still relatively new destinations for international travellers, hotels do not always meet Western standards. Wherever possible, we stay in the best local hotels. Often run by Japanese or Korean firms, these are high-quality and comfortable with all the conveniences you would expect anywhere. Elsewhere, however, patience is needed. This is particularly so on Lake Baikal and Kamchatka where only more basic, though still entirely clean and acceptable, facilities are available. Specific accommodation choices will become available when the detailed itinerary is published.
What is included in the tour price?
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.