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The Great Journey

Duration: 15 days/ 14 nights
Destination : Vladivostok – Ulan-Ude – Irkutsk – Novosibirsk – Yekaterinburg – Moscow

Day 1 Vladivostok
On arrival in Vladivostok, you will be met at the airport by our representative and will be taken by car or mini bus to your hotel. The expedition to discover the "Lord of the East" now begins.

Vladivostok is Russia’s largest port city on the Pacific Ocean situated at the head of the Golden Horn Bay and near the border of China and North Korea. The city is home to the Russian Pacific Fleet. The territory on which modern Vladivostok is located had been part of many nations, including the Mongol Empire and China and in the past was populated by many Chinese, Manchu and Koreans. Russia acquired the region in 1858 at the end of China’s Opium War with Britain. The naval outpost was founded in 1859 by Count Nikolay Muravyov Amursky who named it Vladivostok which is translated as “Lord of the East.” An elaborate system of fortifications was erected between the 1870s and 1890s and a telegraph line from Vladivostok to Shanghai and Nagasaki was opened in 1871. The city´s economy was given a boost in 1903, with the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The city was fiercely fought over during the Russian Civil War but finally taken by the Red Army in October of 1922. This battle marked the end of the Russian Civil War and consolidation of power by the Soviets. Since that time, Vladivostok has been Russia’s main cultural, trade and militarily important city on the Pacific Coast.

Day 2
After the breakfast, get ready for the city tour. During the panoramic tour of Vladivostok, you will see all the main attractions and highlights of the city: the Vladivostok Railway Station – terminus of the Trans-Siberian railroad, the S-56 submarine on the harbor embankment and the area on which the city was founded 142 years ago.

You will also visit the highly regarded Arseniev Museum to view exhibits of the region’s rich treasures of flora and fauna as well as the culture and history of the Vladivostok area (3 hours). This excursion will give you the opportunity to have a close up view of the world renowned and beautiful harbor of the Golden Horn, Russia’s largest seaport on the Pacific Ocean. You actually get three harbors in one tour; the fishing harbor, the naval base and the commercial harbor. You will see numerous ships waiting to their unload cargo and then travel out into Amursky Bay for panoramic views of Vladivostok. Train leaves Vladivostok at noon.

Day 3-4
The train journey from Vladivostok to Ulan-Ude is two days and a half. But the comfortable compartment will make you feel at home. The landscape along the way is typically Siberian, the endless taiga and rivers and lakes. The intenseness of the nature will surprise you and you will definitely feel that you have left civilization far behind. During the 20-25 minute stops, you can walk near your wagon and replenish your provisions.

Day 5 - 6 Ulan-Ude
Your train arrives in Ulan-Ude where our representatives will meet you. Before checking into your hotel, you will see the city for the first time. Buryatia is a small, mainly Buddhist republic. Here you will finally feel that you are in Asia! After rest we will have a short walking tour of the city, visiting the History museum of Buryatia. The conclusion of the day will taste traditional Buryat cuisine at the Yurta kochevnika. You will then return to your hotel.

Ulan-Ude is the capital city of the Buryat Republic of Russia and is located about 100 km (66 miles) south-east of Lake Baikal on the Uda River at its confluence with the Selenga. The first occupants of the area where Ulan-Ude now stands were the Evenks and later the Buryat Mongols. The city was initially founded in 1666 by Russian Cossacks as a fortress. Due to its favorable geographical position, the city grew rapidly and became a large trade center which connected Russia with China and Mongolia. The Trans-Siberian Railway reached the city in 1900 causing an explosion in growth. The population which was 3,500 in 1880 reached 126,000 in 1939. On 27 July 1934, the city was renamed Ulan-Ude. Today the city has a population of about 360,000. You will definitely get a taste of the East when in Ulan Ude. The major religion of the area is Buddhism and you will see Buddhist monuments and temples during your time here.

Day 7 Irkutsk
Your train arrives in the morning in Irkutsk where our representatives will meet and take you to Lake Baikal, the largest body of fresh water in the world. On the way from Irkutsk, we will make a stop at the Ethnographical museum “Taltsy” consisting of examples of Siberian wooden houses from the past centuries.

We will also make a stop to see the lake from the “Cherskiy Peak” observation point. On arrival to a hotel we will have lunch (optional). This is not the end of the day; we will also visit the Limnological museum, where exhibits of the unique fauna and flora that surround the lake are displayed. There is also an aquarium where you can see different species of local fish and the Baikal nerpa – the earth’s only fresh water seal. And we will visit the functioning St. Nicolas the Miracle-Worker Orthodox Church.

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world with an average depth of 744.4 m (2,442 ft) and contains roughly 20 percent of the world´s surface fresh water. The body of water is also known as the “Baikal Sea” and the "Pearl of Siberia". At 1,642 meters (5,390 ft) Lake Baikal is the deepest, and among the clearest lakes in the world. At more than 25 million years old, Baikal is also the world´s oldest lake. Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It is also home to the Buryat people who follow the Tibetan Buddhist religion and reside on the eastern side of the lake rearing goat, camel, cattle and sheep.

Day 8
After breakfast, free time and check out from hotel at noon. You will travel by comfortable car or mini bus to Irkutsk where you will drop off your luggage in the luggage room of a hotel and continue on with your tour.

Our guide will come and take you on a city tour to the historical center and the Znamenskiy Monastery where the leaders of the Decembrist Revolt and G. Shelikhov – the Russian Columbus are buried. You will also learn about the Decembrist Revolt and the exile of the Revolt’s leaders. You will pass along Karl Marx Prospect with its many buildings dating from the 19th century. You will see the Angara river embankment and see a monument to Alexander III, and continue onto the immense GES (hydro-electro station) and the ice-breaker ANGARA.

Before being taken to the train station to continue your journey you will visit the hotel to pick up your luggage. Your train leaves at the evening.

Irkutsk began as a small settlement in the mid 17th century for gold-trading and for the collection of the fur tax from the Buryats. The settlement officially became a town in 1686 and the first road between Moscow and the new city was built in 1760. With the road construction, many new products, often imported from China, were widely available in Irkutsk for the first time including gold, diamonds, furs, wood, silk and tea. In 1821, Irkutsk became the seat of the Governor-General of East Siberia. In the early 19th century, many Russian officers and nobles were sent into exile in Irkutsk for their part in the Decembrist revolt against Tsar Nicholas I. Due to this influx of individuals from St. Petersburg, Irkutsk became the Siberian center of intellectual and cultural life. By 1900, the city had earned the nickname “The Paris of Siberia.” Today Irkutsk has become a college town with many young people studying at the university and other institutes of higher education in the city.

Day 9 Novosibirsk
This part of Transsiberian route is considered to be the most beautiful. You will understand why just looking at a map of the region. The trip will take you almost the whole day. The train will cross over many rivers. Your train arrives at night to the largest train station along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, our representative will meet you with a car or minibus and help you get to your hotel. On the way to the hotel, you will have the opportunity to get your first look at this mighty Russian city.

Novosibirsk is the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersbirg and the largest Siberian city. The city was founded in 1893 at the future site of a Trans-Siberian Railway bridge crossing the great Ob river. The city was first named Novonikolayevsk in honor of both Saint Nicholas and Tsar Nicholas II. During Stalin’s industrialization of Russia, the city experienced rapid growth and became one of the major seats of industry in the Soviet Union. In the 1950s, the scientific research complex of Akademgorodok was constructed about 30 km south of the city center. The Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences is headquartered in Akademgorodok and the town hosts a total of fourteen research institutions and universities making it one of the most important centers for science research in the world. In 1962, Novosibirsk reached a population of one million. At that time, it was the youngest city in the world with over a million people. Novosibirsk took fewer than seventy years to achieve this milestone.

Day 10
Be ready for a long and exciting tour to the scientific town of Akademgorodok and around Novosibirsk. Right after breakfast, you will leave for your tour. Akademgorodok is a city built entirely for scientists and their families and is well known throughout the International scientific community. The tour will take you to the Geology Museum at the Geology Research Institute, the Open-Air Train Museum exhibiting a collection of old Trans-Siberian trains. (30km outside of Novosibirsk). You will then continue into Novosibirsk again and be taken on a panoramic city tour. Our guide will show you Krasny Prospect, Alexander Cathedral, Lenin Square which features the vast Opera House. You will also visit the oldest part of the city, Gorkogo Street with its old wooden houses, the tiny St. Nicolas Chapel marking the very center of Russia and the Ob river embankment.

After your excursion, you will have free time before going to the station. Our representatives can help you find a good local restaurant (optional) where you can sample genuine Siberian cuisine. Then, on to the train station to continue your journey. Train to Yekaterinburg leaves in the evening.

Day 11 Yekaterinburg
On arrival at noon in Yekaterinburg our friendly representatives will meet you at the train station and bring you by car or mini bus to your hotel.

The city was founded in 1723 and named after Saint Catherine, the namesake of Tsar Peter the Great’s wife Empress Catherine I (Yekaterina). Soon after the Russian Revolution, on 17 July, 1918, Tsar Nicolas II, his wife, Alexandra, and their children Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Tsarevich Alexei were executed by the Bolsheviks at the Ipatiev House where they were being held prisoner. Yekaterinburg is also famous for being located directly on the border between the Europe and Asia. It is also the city of Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin.

Day 12
After breakfast you will start your excursion which explores the Last days of the Romanov’s and is combined with a city tour.

The excursion will acquaint you with the history of the Romanov family in Yekaterinburg and detail their tragic death. You will visit the Monastery dedicated to the family of the last Tsar. The Monastery is located on the spot where the Bolsheviks tried to hide the Romanov’s corpses in a secret grave. Today, this area is a well-known Russian Orthodox pilgrimage site. After viewing the Monastery and the neighboring wooden churches, you will go on to see the main historical sites of Yekaterinburg: The Historical skver (park), the wooden dam of the city’s first plant, the old city embankment and a monument of Lenin, leader of Soviet Russia. The tour will also take you to places connected to the first President of Russia – Boris Yeltsin who originates from Yekaterinburg. After the excursion, you will be taken back to the hotel and have free time to walk around the city.

Day 13
After a breakfast, you will be taken to the railway station. Train departs in the morning.

Day 14 Moscow
Moscow, the capital of Russian Federation, is the starting point of your great Trans Siberian journey. On arrival in Moscow you will be met by our friendly representative who will escort you by car or mini bus to your hotel. On the way to the hotel, you will have the opportunity to get your first glimpse of this truly unique city. Your excursion program starts with a city tour by car or minibus.

Panoramic City tour. This tour is a great way to start your trip and the best way to get acquainted with many of the city’s major highlights. Our professional guide will escort you on a route that includes Vorobyevi Hills where you will get an incredible view of the city from an observation point, you will proceed to Moscow State University which is an example of architecture from the time of Stalin, then on to Novodevichiy Convent, the Diplomatic Village, Victory Park, the Triumphal Arch and Kutuzovsky Prospect.

You will proceed to Red Square, meaning “beautiful” with its famous St. Basil´s Cathedral and visit the Kremlin the former ancient tower, military fortification, palace and now the workplace of Russian President. Among the sights you will see are the Mausoleum of Lenin, the Upper Trading Rows (including the State Department Store (GUM), the clock at the Savior (Spasskaya) Tower – showing the most correct Moscow time.

Moscow is the capital and the largest city in Russia as well as the largest metropolitan area in Europe with a population well over 10 million. This amazing city has served as the capital of the Soviet Union, the Russian Empire and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Moscow has had a tumultuous history dating back to medieval times when it was founded by Prince Yuri Dolgoruki (Yuri of the Long Arms, known for the length of his arms!) in the early 12th century. It has seen numerous invasions and sieges from the Mongols to the Poles and Lithuanians to the Crimean Tatars to Napoleon and finally the Nazi’s but it has persevered and today is a thriving metropolis. The city is filled with unique architecture from the Kremlin and Red Square to giant Stalin skyscrapers to new office blocks built during the economic boom of recent years and it contains a strikingly beautiful metro system. The city is the center of political as well as economic power in Russia and visitors can feel the energy in the streets. There is always something going on in Moscow and there is so much to see.

Day 15
After breakfast at the hotel you will have some free time to become oriented. In the noon, you will check out of the hotel and transferred to airport.

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