Russia Explorer

Trip Code: WBKR

Why we love it

Encounter the legacy of Russian tsar Peter the Great while exploring the enigmatic streets that showcase the many palaces and museums of St Petersburg., Join a local family in St. Petersburg and have some tasty home cooked meal while learning some Russia games!, Visit the Solovetsky Islands, location of one of the first GULAGs, Travel to Murmansk, the biggest city within the Arctic Circle, and venture through tundra to the deserted town of Teriberka by the Barents Sea., Visit the Golden Ring towns of Yaroslavl, an 'open air museum' displaying Russia's history through its onion-domed Orthodox churches, monasteries and kremlins, Red Square has long been at the heart of Russian history – visit the austere mausoleum of Lenin, the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution, contrasting with the eye-bulging treasure collection in the Kremlin and Armoury Museum., This trip is a perfect balance of the must see highlights of Russia and the off the beaten track adventures in this great country. You'll cover immense grounds and travel deep into the country and its culture with the help and insight of your local tour leader.

Is this trip right for me?

This trip includes two long overnight train journeys. Conditions on the trains are simple but comfortable – a truly Intrepid experience and a great way to meet, and travel like, the locals. There is a toilet/bathroom and compartments with bunks/berths. Please note that we travel 2nd class on all overnight trains (4 people per compartment). While we always try to have our groups stay together, there may be times, where due to ticket availability, the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages.

As well as overnight train travel, we experience a variety of different transport types on this journey, such as a flight, ferries, public and private buses, the metro and plenty of exploring on foot.The road travel to 'the end of the world' Teriberka can be long and bumpy, but you'll be well rewarded by the vast tundra scenery on the way.

We travel far north to the Kola Peninsula, Republic of Karelia and Solovetsky Islands. The weather can be unpredictable, and severe even in summer months. Bring your sense of adventure and be open minded to changes we may have to make due to weather conditions.

Please note that on occasion Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening hours without prior warning.

Important information

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 4,7 (Sleeper Train) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
3. Please provide your passport details and full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for train tickets. Fees may apply for amendments to details within 31 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing new tickets.
4. We advise against travelling with multiple passports with visas in different passports. Customs officers may not allow you entry even if the visas are valid. Please provide the exact details of the passport you will be using for travel.
5. Even in the summer months, the temperature within the Arctic Circle can be low with day time temperatures of 20C/68F, dropping to 10C/50F at night. Please come prepared with beanie, gloves, fleece/water/windproof jacket as the weather can change drastically within a day.
6. To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps).

If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, WATER BOTTLE
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination, if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day., What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.
Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles.
If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks.
A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.
You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip.

Essential:
- Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites.
- Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential.
- Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, flight tickets and trip notes. Photocopies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
- small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice.
- Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt
- Sun protection like a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Recommended:
- Refillable water bottle (1.5-litre capacity suggested): The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1-litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
- Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug
- Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and a small towel
- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
- Torch or flashlight esp. for stay at local guesthouses or homestays

Optional:
- Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low.
- Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
- Earplugs to guard against street noise and snorers.
- A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives.

Other things to consider:

- Check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing
- Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash, WHAT TO TAKE:
As you are travelling to Russia's far north and within the Arctic circle when in Solovki and Murmansk, the weather can be unpredictable and severe even in summer months. The temperature may be be around 20C during the day and drop to around 10C or below overnight. We advise to pack a warm hat, gloves, light fleece/water/wind jacket regardless of the season.

For visiting some churches and monasteries women are expected to wear a long skirts and cover their head with a scarf, so it'll be helpful to pack these items for such visits. 

Past travellers have recommended taking a swimsuit to wear should you choose to go to a banya (Russian sauna).

Physical rating

3

A good level of fitness will be expected and will certainly help increase the enjoyment of the trip. You will be required to carry your own bags through busy train and metro stations (including up and down stairs or escalators) and some accommodation may not have lifts.The trip also includes overnight train journeys and long road travels on rough roads.The area we will visit on this trip are best to explore on foot, so please expect to walk a lot visiting difference sites and you may easily surpass your 10000 steps when you are out exploring the whole day.

You will be expected to carry your own luggage including up and down stairs, in busy public transport hubs, and on and off buses and trains. Although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage, you are expected to be able to walk with and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. And some accommodation may not have lifts. Good general fitness and mobility will play a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.

Joining your group

St. Petersburg M Hotel, St. Petersburg, Sadovaya street, 22/2, St Petersburg, RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Joining instructions

Finishing your trip

Marco Polo Presnja Hotel Гостиница Марко Поло Пресня, 123104, Moscow, 9, bldg. 1, Spiridonjevskij Lane, Moscow, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, Phone: +7495 6600606

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 11

Lunches included: 2

Dinners included: 

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

RUSSIA
What is food in Russia really like? See our blog here for some must try foods:
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/5-foods-really-need-try-russia/

Vegetarians in Russia certainly won't go hungry as there are usually plenty of meat-free options on menus including salads, certain soups, and cooked dishes such as mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage, buckwheat, dumplings with vegetable fillings, savoury pancakes etc. Vegans will need to look for options without mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese which are common in Russian dishes. Moscow, St Petersburg and increasingly other towns have an ever growing number of excellent vegetarian and vegan eateries.

Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets.

Climate & seasonal information

RUSSIAN PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:
New Year's Day: 1 Jan
New Year Holiday Week: 2-8 Jan
Orthodox Christmas Day: 7 Jan
Defenders of the Fatherland Day: 23 Feb
International Womens Day: 8 Mar
Spring & Labour Day: 1 May
Spring & Labour Day Holiday: 2 May
Victory Day: 9 May
Russia Day: 12 Jun
Russia Day holiday: 13 Jun
Unity Day: 4 Nov

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below:

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +7 918 6151572

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in your selected accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for your arrival, especially if you're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible, which means you won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, you can store your luggage and explore the new destination.

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

RUSSIA
REGISTRATION:
According to Russian law, all foreign citizens must be registered with the immigration authorities within 7 business days of arrival into Russia. If you have made your own independent travel plans in Russia for more than 7 days outside of your trip dates with us, please ensure you are registered through your accommodation in order to avoid any issues at passport control when leaving the country.

HOT WATER:
Please note that in many cities in Russia, including Moscow, hot water is turned off for up to one month during summer for routine maintenance. During this time only cold water may be available at some accommodation.

HOMESTAYS & GUESTHOUSES:
Please note that at our homestays and guesthouses rooms may be multishare and open gender. When we stay at people's homes, beds may be sofa beds or mattresses on the floor.

DOUBLE BEDS:
Please note that rooms with double beds are not always available at our accommodation in Russia and two single beds in a twin share room is the default. Wherever possible we will put couples in rooms with double beds if available.

RUSSIA TRAINS:
Trains on this journey are simple but comfortable, with standards and age of the carriages varying from route to route. You’ll travel in 2nd class ("kupe") on this trip. There's a toilet/bathroom at the end of each carriage with a small sink and cold water, but no showers. An attendant is assigned to every carriage to look after your comfort and safety (although service standards can vary greatly!). Each compartment has four bunks with luggage storage space inside. Clean bedding is provided, although some travellers still prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. There's hot water available for making instant meals, tea and coffee. Sometimes snacks and drinks are available for purchase on board and most trains also have a dining car, although often with a limited menu. Trains are generally heated but do not always offer air conditioning. The train can become very hot even in winter and the train attendants will often not allow the windows to be opened, so please pack clothing appropriate for the warmer conditions on these train journeys.

Transportation


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