Over the last few months, we have been working hard to update our excursions catalogue. During this time, I’ve become extremely intrigued by the sheer volume of incredible excursions we offer. To be quite honest, it felt as though I was stepping into a land of perpetual adventure while learning about the incredible countries, and the most captivating cities along the Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian, and Trans-Manchurian routes.
Over the past weeks, I’ve also been working on adding three exciting new cities to our already extensive list, which are Kazan, Novosibirsk, and Ulan-Ude. They all happen to be remarkable cities, historically and culturally, offering an abundance of unique sights, landmarks, and wonderful experiences.
They say, “if you can’t live longer, live deeper”, and that’s exactly what our excursions enables you to do, to live deeper that is, from Moscow all the way to Beijing, in mind, and hopefully very soon, in body. I’ve developed a desire to visit all these incredible places, and the first on my list is the mesmerising capital of Russia, the ‘Mighty Moscow’.
When I do decide to embark on my Russian adventure, my main aim would be to get to the heart of the culture, to experience that Russian spirit I often hear so much about. Moscow is a dynamic and distinctive place with a rich history, therefore, I would commence my expedition at the foundation on which the city was built, the Kremlin.
Following on from the Kremlin is a city tour, I would travel through the legendary Red Square, then on to see St Basil’s Cathedral, before finishing with a cruise along the Moscow River. To just end your Russian adventure in Moscow, would be like eating the dough of a doughnut and leaving the icing, it makes no sense unless you’re short of time.
Second on my very long list is the awe-inspiring ‘Venice of the North’, St Petersburg, which I’ve become a little obsessed with. The imperial capital of Russia, and the land of the Tsars, struck me as a magical place to be. There is something about the idea of cycling through the white night on a bike tour, admiring the views of the River Neva and everything that passes by, that sends my mind in to my very own Russian dreamland. Of-course, you can’t visit St Petersburg without going on a guided tour of the Hermitage, Peter and Paul Fortress, and Church of our Saviour, just to name a few.
The experience of seeing the Ural landscape, steeped in its natural beauty, should be on every traveller’s bucket list. The city where Asia and Europe converges is my idea of an explorer’s paradise, housing multiple monuments, several museums, and numerous theatres.
I would seek to get to the heart of the city, and the best way to do this would be a city tour covering all the major sights, including the Church of the Blood, Ascension Hill’s churches, and the Literary Quarter.
Yekaterinburg is bursting with mind-blowing history and culture, and anyone interested in learning more about the fall of Russia’s imperial dynasty, should add the Romanov tour to their list of things to do.
I imagine that I would tie up my visit with a trip to the Europe-Asia border, or a trek through the glorious Ural landscape, where I would stand at the top of the mountains and gaze out to the distance, while admiring the breath-taking view of the sun as it descends beyond the peaks of the Urals.
With over 170 indigenous groups, and the fact that it is the largest country in the world, contrast is something you can expect to stumble upon in Russia. I believe that in order to gain a deep understanding of what is to me, a unique nation, and what is to Russians, “The Motherland”, one should add Irkutsk to their exploration adventure.
Not only is Irkutsk a brilliant example of a remarkable place, where you can fully delve into the lives of the Shamans, and spend a day experiencing life in a Buryat village. Irkutsk is also a gateway to sacred sea, Lake Baikal, where there are a number of once in a lifetime experiences, like kayaking through the Angara River and seeing Baikal’s fresh water seals.
For first time travellers, or anyone stopping here on the Trans-Siberian, a city tour including all the major landmarks, or a trip to Listvyanaka is recommended.
Vladivostok, ‘The Ruler of the East’, offers many wonderful discoveries, and for those ending their Trans-Siberian adventure in Vladivostok, it’s only right that you take time out to get to know the city of military glory. Although I’m not generally a history enthusiast, I’ve grown to admire the way Russia shows pride in their military accomplishment, all thanks to Vladivostok.
As you can imagine, military history conquers the top of my list of things to do in Vladivostok; I recommend a guided tour of the Vladivostok fortress, the defence fortification which stood to secure the pacific borders from all enemy attacks, and then compliment that with a tour of the Submarine s-56.
To the locals, Vladivostok is the best city in the entire world, and now you can see and experience it in all the ways the locals do. I’ve also extended our collection to enable you to experience local life, so why not end your journey with a visit to a family home, or maybe spend an evening feasting on traditional Russian cuisine with a local family at a family dacha.
From the Trans-Siberian to the Trans-Mongolian, the journey ends nears, but your experience will only get better. Ulan-Bator, in my opinion, is THE journey where you can marvel at the breath-taking landscapes of one of the most remote countries there is; absorb tranquillity in the steppes in the land of the warlord, Genghis Khan, and experience life how it is lived by the Mongol nomads in an overnight stay with a nomadic family.
With such a deep history, and incredible traces of it scattered all around Ulan Bator, you will truly become hypnotised by all of it on a city tour of Mongolia’s ever-changing capital. Being the aspiring adventure junkie that I am, I can already envision myself departing from Ulan Bator and proceeding to cross the Gobi Desert, which I hope would be on the back of a sturdy camel!
Although it is the last stop on the Trans-Manchurian and Trans-Mongolian routes, Beijing is China’s capital, the imperial city of the ancient emperors of China, and one of the most historic cities in the world. Climbing the Great Wall of China has always been an ambition of mine, and that was before I knew anything about the history of Beijing, and the fact that it was one of the greatest empires; gives me all the more reason to want to discover it.
Aside from offering you the chance to conquer a section of the great wall, by conquer I mean to climb, we’ve hand-selected a number of culture and history rich activities to help you experience Beijing in all its majestic glory, including a guided tour with local guides to the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, among many other incredible sights.
What's next, you asked?
Now that I’ve given you an introduction to the cities where we currently offer excursions, feel free to look through the destinations, and then browse through our catalogues.
Over the next few months, you can also look forward to more incredible cities and even more exciting excursions being added to our website, keep an eye open for Perm, Krasnoyarsk and Khabarovsk, among others.
In the next instalments, I will introducing you to the capital of the Tatarstan Republic, Kazan, the “Capital of Siberia”, Novosibirsk, and the capital of the Republic of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude. Stay tuned to discover all the activities you could be doing, including dining with a Siberian family, and visiting Lake Baikal, along with many more exciting adventures.
If you’ve already embarked on any of our excursions, share your experiences with us on our social media channels; Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.