Embark on a journey of a lifetime to one of the world’s last travel frontiers. This sixteen-day tour reveals the cultural and geographic wonders of Siberia and the Russian Far East. We begin in Irkutsk, a Cossack settlement on the steppe and the cultural capital of Siberia, and then travel to the superbly beautiful Lake Baikal, sacred to the indigenous Buryat people, and Ulan-Ude, a culturally Mongolian town that is the centre of Russian Buddhism. From here we take the Trans-Siberian railway to Vladivostok and then continue to Kamchatka, Russia’s Alaska, to explore its extraordinary landscape and the culture of its indigenous reindeer-herding and husky-raising people.
A cultural kaleidoscope, from modern Orthodox to Old Believers, Mongol Buryats and Kamchatka’s indigenous reindeer herders
Awe-inspiring landscapes: serene Lake Baikal, the Eastern Siberian steppe, and the volcanoes and geysers of Kamchatka, ‘Russia’s Alaska’
Tales of exile and the tyranny of distance, from the time of the Tsars to the Soviet Gulag
Unique wildlife: Baikal’s mysterious nerpa, a freshwater seal thousands of kilometres from the sea, and Kamchatka’s reindeer
The warmth and friendliness of a culture untouched by mass tourism
Marvel at the immensity and tranquillity of Siberia’s Lake Baikal, with its stunning vistas of pine-studded islands
Journey across the Eastern Siberian step on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway
Private helicopter and walking tour of Kamchatka’s snow-capped volcanoes and the stupendous Valley of Geysers
Reflect on the pathos of Irkutsk, a miniature St Petersburg recreated by exiled Decembrists
Explore the heart of Russian Buddhism at Ulan-Ude’s central datsan
Walk the streets of Russia’s Pacific capital, the surprisingly subtropical Vladivostok
Meet Kamchatka’s indigenous people, the reindeer-herding Koryak
Days 1–4: Arrive Irkutsk. On Lake Baikal, meet the mysterious nerpa seal and investigate Bronze Age petroglyphs.
Days 5–6: Explore Barguzin Valley’s natural wonders; enjoy lunch with a local family. Encounter Russian Buddhism in Ulan-Ude and visit a village of ‘Old Believers’, Orthodox dissidents expelled in the 17th century.
Days 7–9: Board the Trans-Siberian Railway to cross East Siberia’s vast steppe.
Days 10–11: In Vladivostok, a vibrant Pacific port closed to foreigners until 1991.
Days 12–14: Fly to Petropavlosk-Kamchatksky. Marvel at volcanoes and geysers; relax in Nalychevo’s thermal springs.
Days 15–16: Fly to Vladivostok, departure.
A detailed itinerary for this tour will be available soon. Please register your interest above to receive your copy.
Flights are available with Qantas/Oneworld via Beijing (outbound) and Tokyo (return). Please contact us for quotes and bookings.
A full itinerary will be available in August 2018. Please register your interest (to the right on desktop or below on mobile) and we will be sure to send you the full itinerary when available.
Dr Matthew Dal Santo
Is a historian and free-lance writer 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…”
The journey certainly counts among Academy Travel’s more adventurous options. We have given it our highest fitness requirement of Grade Three. Accommodation varies from good quality western-style hotels in Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude and Vladivistok, to more humble lodges on Lake Baikal and three nights aboard the Trans Siberian Railway in twin cabins.
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.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is not yet available, and as such we're not accepting bookings for this tour at this time. If you would like to be notified when places become available, please register your interest.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is not yet available, and as such we're not accepting bookings for this tour at this time. If you would like to be notified when places become available, please register your interest. We will email you an itinerary as soon as it’s available.
Please keep me informed about the next departure of this tour.
Hold a Place
Thank you for your interest in this tour. We are happy to hold a tentative place for seven days while you make your final arrangements to come on tour.
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