Last Modified: 26 Jul 2014
Classic Russia & Ukraine
Trip code: WBKM
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Discover the hidden secrets, spectacular landscapes and intriguing imperial tales of Russia and Ukraine on this unique journey through the region’s highlights and backroads. Walk in the footsteps of literary greats in staggering St Petersburg, be astounded by the opulent former palaces of the Tsars and behold magical St. Basil’s Cathedral by night. Step off the beaten trail for a Cossack experience in Petrushivka village, sample a hearty home-cooked Ukrainian dinner and work up a sweat of a different kind in a traditional Russian ‘banya’. Perplexing, abstruse and intriguing at every turn, this adventure through Russia and Ukraine is sure to thwart all expectations of this fascinating part of the world.
Warning - this is a new trip for us!
While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.
This trip is run by our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Intrepid passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Table of Contents
- Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Days 1-3 St Petersburg
Zdrastvutye! Welcome to Russia.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 1:30pm on Day 1.
The guide will be at the hotel to pick you up for your family friendly orientation walk of the city, starting at the Plaza de Mayo you be transported to La Boca, then walk along Caminito and visit La Bombonera. Travelling on to Recoleta where you will visit the cemetery and the National Museum of Fine arts where you will join in activities. Afterwards there will be a picnic in Plaza Francia before going to Palermo where we will finish our tour with the Japanese Garden. Transfer back to the hotel. In case of cold or rain the picnic will be transferred to a restaurant.
If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Join your tour leader after the meeting for a traditional Russian meal at a local restaurant.
A complimentary arrival transfer is included on this trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details at the time of booking in order for our driver to meet you on arrival.
If you arrive early, we recommend you visit St Isaac's Cathedral and climb to the colonnade from where you will have magnificent views over the city. Why not walk along Nevsky Prospekt - St Petersburg's main thoroughfare - maybe popping into one of the many bakeries or pancake shops along the way, or head down to Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra where Russia's great musicians and writers like Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky are laid to rest in the cemetery.
Truly one of Europe's finest cities, built of baroque European architecture combined with the opulent palaces of Russian royalty, St Petersburg was built by the Russian tsar Peter the Great and his legacy will clearly be felt as you explore its enigmatic streets and visit its showcase cathedrals and museums.
We join our guide for a walking tour and get to know the city through the eyes of a St Petersburg resident. It is a tour without a fixed itinerary, where the travellers and the guide discuss a route on the day with the aim to see and do what other tourists don't. Step off Nevsky Prospect and discover bridges, rivers and canals of the city of Saint Peter. See the grandeur of it's palaces and quays, the charm of old back streets and quiet lanes, and the marketplaces of the 300 year old Russian Imperial Capital. Learn personal stories of the city legends, monarchs, artists, nobles and commoners such as Peter the Great and Catherine right through to the times of Lenin and post-Soviet era.
In the summer months, we take a night-time boat tour of the canals and waterways with a local guide to see the architecture from a unique perspective. In midsummer it will still be light as the sun barely sets during White Nights.Outside of these months we'll have a walking tour of the city.
On Day 3 you will have a full free day for optional activities and exploration on your own. Your leader will help you with ideas and suggestions as well as how to get where you need to go.
- St Petersburg - Boat tour
- St Petersburg - Guided city walking tour
- Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra & Cemeteries - RUB150
- Kunstkamera Museum - RUB250
- Saviour on the Spilt Blood Church (optional) - RUB250
- St Petersburg Discovery Urban Adventure - RUB1500
- St Petersburg Unveiled Urban Adventure - RUB2000
- St Isaacs Cathedral & Colonnade - RUB400
- Mariinsky Theatre, Performance, St Petersburg - RUB3000
- Matryoshka Doll painting workshop - EUR30
Domina Prestige Hotel or similar (3 nts)
Day 4 Petrodvorets/Pushkin
For many the highlight of St Petersburg is the Hermitage Museum, one of the world's premier art collections housed in the former imperial Winter Palace.
Board the hydrofoil from the dock on the Neva River just outside the Hermitage for the trip across the Gulf of Finland (approx 30 mins) and arrive right in the splendour of Peterhof - home to Peter the Great's magnificent summer residence.
Explore the opulent grounds of Peterhof with a local guide and marvel at the magnificent landscaped gardens and spectacular fountains. These were the pleasure grounds of Peter the Great where he entertained his guests from around the Russian Empire and abroad. Don't fall for the same fountain "tricks" as Peter used to play on his vistors!
Transfer by minibus from Peterhof to the nearby imperial suburb of Pushkin (approx 30 mins).
Home to the magnificent Catherine Palace, the old St Petersburg suburb of Tsarskoe Selo is now known as Pushkin, after Russia's most celebrated poet.
- St Petersburg - Hermitage Museum
- Peterhof- Park & Fountains
Natalie Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Moscow
This morning we will explore one of the main sights of Pushkin with a visit to the beautiful Ekaterinskiy (Catherine) Palace and Park, the highlight of which is the painstakingly restored Amber Room. There are other options here too, including the quieter Alexander Gardens and the Lyceum where poet Pushkin studied.
Return to St Petersburg by minibus (approx 1 hour), arriving at Moskovskiy Station in time to board our train to Moscow.
Travel by comfortable high speed "Sapsan" train from St Petersburg direct to Moscow (approx 4 hours), reaching speeds of up to 250km per hour.
The great city of Moscow has survived centuries of revolution and seen Russia through some of its most turbulent years, from the days of the tsars through the communist era to the growing pains of democracy. Beneath its modern veneer - a sign of Russia's recent embrace of capitalism - Moscow is a fascinating, historic city with a wealth of sights to see.
Enter the Kremlin grounds which house the oldest and most important churches in the country, where many Tsars and Tsarinas are laid to rest. Also head inside the Armoury Museum which houses a glittering imperial collection of regalia and items once belonging to the world's richest monarchy, including Faberge eggs and ambassadorial gifts.
As Moscow's premier tourist attractions, tickets for the Kremlin and Armoury are in high demand. In order to control the number of tour groups entering these sights at one time the Moscow Tourism Administration has set strict quotas. The amount of time guides can spend with their groups is also restricted to 90 minutes in each area, with any exceptions possibly resulting in the guide losing their license, so while we appreciate that some travellers would like to spend longer in the Armoury Museum we ask for your understanding that the guide is under pressure to keep to the schedule.
The Diamond Fund isn't included in our tour, but after the Kremlin and Armoury there may be time to visit. Entrance tickets can be purchased in the ticket office at the Armoury. The Diamond Fund is open for visitors from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm. Thursday it is closed.
This afternoon and tomorrow morning we have free time during which you might like to:
Step inside the colourful St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square. Legend has it that tsar, Ivan the Terrible, had the two architects blinded so that they couldn't build anything as beautiful.
Travel back to the beginnings of Russian art at the Tretyakov Gallery.
The Izmailovo Markets are considered the best place for souvenir shopping.
To really experience Moscow life, you need to ride the metro, admire the marble and mosaics that decorate the stations and get up close and personal with the city's citizens as they do their daily commuting.
- Pushkin - Catherine Palace & Park (including Amber Room)
- Moscow - Kremlin & Armoury guided tour
- Moscow Up Close & Personal Urban Adventure - RUB2340
- Tretyakov Gallery - RUB400
- St Basils Cathedral - RUB250
- Museum of the Great Patriotic War - RUB250
- Izmailovo Vernisazh Markets - RUB10
- Bolshoi Theatre - RUB2500
- Moscow Bunker & Underground Urban Adventure - RUB4000
- Diamond Fund - RUB500
Marco Polo Presnja Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Day 7 Sergiev Posad
After a free morning for optional activities, transfer to the Golden Ring town of Sergiev Posad (approx 90 min).
The town of Sergiev Posad, located 70km from Moscow, is home to one of the most important and active monasteries in Russia. Popular with pilgrims, worshippers and travellers alike, the monastery complex is full of fairytale architecture which we will explore with our local guide.
Head to Dimino Village where a real Russian treat awaits us - a traditional banya (Russian sauna). Be pampered local style with a steam, soak and of course, birch branch "massage". Towels, bathrobes, slipper and toiletries are all provided. After relaxing and experiencing the banya we'll sit down to an authentic feast including appetisers, soup, potato and meat dishes, pancakes with honey and jam, tea and traditional beverages like "mors" (berry drink) and "kvas" (a tasty beverage made from fermented black bread).
- Sergiev Posad - Guided monastery tour
- Dimino Village - Russian banya (sauna) & traditional dinner
Imperial Village Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 8 Abramtsevo/Overnight train
Explore the grand sights of the Trinity Monastery with our local guide, including the star spangled Cathedral of the Assumption, the art works of medieval painter Andrey Rublyov and the Vestry, bulging with riches and donations from rich and powerful friends of the Russian Orthodox community.
Transfer from Sergiev Posad back to Moscow (approx 2 hours) via the former artists and writers colony of Abramtsevo.
The estate of Abramtsevo with its lovely location on the banks of the Voraya River was established as an informal creative colony in the 19th century and is is home to a unique collection of residences and workshops of some of Russia's most celebrated writers and artists. Writers Gogol and Turgenev and artists Repin and Vrubel all spent time and created some of their most famous works here. We'll explore with a local guide to learn more about the contribution Ambramtsevo's residents made to Russia's deep artistic and literary history.
Travel by comfortable 1st class (2 travellers per compartment) overnight sleeper train from Moscow into Ukraine (approx 10 hours).
Day 9 Petrushivka
Zdrastujte! Laskavo prosymo! Welcome to Ukraine.
Our very early morning arrival at Ichnya station means a very early wake up call, but we'll be met by our transfer and driven straight to the village of Petrushivka.
Staying at a family owned guest house, we spend time in the village and experience Cossack traditions and true Ukrainian hospitality.
The accommodation is simple but comfortable and decorated in typical national folk style. After a rest and a hearty breakfast, we have a chance to explore the village and discover some of the treasures our hosts have collected and salvaged from villages all over the region. Take a walk along or swim in the lake, enjoy a banya, learn how to cook some local specialities or visit the nearby monastery, park and estate or stroll through the forest. All our meals are included while here and we will no doubt be well looked after!
In the evening be dazzled by the acrobatic Cossack horseman feats of our host Mykola and his friends.
Days 10-12 Kyiv
Continue on to Kyiv by private transfer (approx 2 hours).
Kyiv is Ukraine's capital and cultural heart - grand theatres, fascinating museums, cobbled streets and beautiful parks await in the 'Mother of Slavic Cities'.
Today we visit some of Kyiv's highlights on a tour of this beautiful city with a local guide.
Stop in at the Motherland monument (Rodina-Mat'), the 62m tall statue which forms part of the Museum of the Patriotic War in and was the tallest in the world when completed 30 years ago.
Enter the hallowed grounds of the St Sofia Cathedral, one of the city's best known landmarks and one of the first sights in the country to be granted UNESCO World Heritage status. Inside are some of the best preserved and oldest frescoes anywhere in the former USSR. Climb to the top of the Bell Tower for stunning views over Kyiv.
Ideas for activities in your free time in Kyiv include:
Wander down Andriyivsky Descent, right nearby our hotel and visit the award winning Museum of One Street.
Take in a performance of opera, ballet or classical music in one of Kyiv's magnificent theatres.
Pay a sobering visit to the Chornobyl Museum - a chilling but highly worthwhile experience that will help understand more about this terrible event in Ukraine's recent history.
We celebrate the end of our journey tonight with a traditional Ukrainian dinner at a local restaurant selected by your tour leader.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
- St.Sofia Cathedral & Bell Tower
- Kyiv - Motherland Monument
- Pechersk Caves Monastery - UAH50
- Museum of One Street - UAH30
- Pirogovo Folk Architecture Museum - UAH30
- WWII Museum - UAH10
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
- WBKM Russia & Ukraine - Single Supplement (WBKM)
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Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
You will be expected to carry your own luggage including stairs, move about 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 and handle your own luggage for up to 30 minutes. Good general fitness and mobility plays a big part in making your trip more enjoyable.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
BOOKING THEATRE TICKETS IN ADVANCE:
To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance. Please consider carefully which performances you are going to want attend and make sure that the dates correspond to your trip. Here are some useful internet sites to check for what will be on (ballet, opera, exhibitions, etc) in Moscow and St Petersburg when you are there: www.mariinsky.ru, www.bolshoi.ru and www.ticketsofrussia.ru. In particular we recommend you see what's playing at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky, as it may be difficult to get tickets when you are there especially during White Nights in St Petersburg.
The official currency of Russia is the Ruble (RUB). 1 ruble = 100 kopeks.
We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in Russia they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
ATMs are widespread in Russia so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart and note that recent travellers have experienced difficulties in using credit cards without a debit function from US banks for purchases or withdrawals. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange as what is advertised is sometimes only for transactions above US$500, carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.
Due to restrictions on changing money in Russia, only US$50 and US$100 notes/bills printed after 1996 and in good condition (no creases, marks, stamps or tears) will be accepted. Avoid bringing US$ notes in smaller denominations. By law, all purchases in Russia must be made in local currency.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest €1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €2-€4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Please note in order for our local operator to book train tickets in Russia, we require each Passengers full name (first, last), Full Passport Details, Date of Birth and City of Birth. Please provide this information to your booking agent no later than 60 days prior to departure.
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Domina Prestige Hotel or similar (3 nts), Marco Polo Presnja Hotel or similar (2 nts), Imperial Village Hotel or similar (1 nt), Natalie Hotel or similar (1 nt)
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 our usual 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 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.
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.
Please be aware that Russia requires all foreign nationals to register their passports upon arrival in each city. Since March 25th, 2011 the registration rules for foreigners have been relaxed in Russia. According to these rules, foreign citizens must register themselves within 7 business days of their arrival into Russia (instead of the 3 days required before). This means that if you are arriving in Russia before the trip start date or staying extra days after the trip has finished (less than 7 days), whether at our Intrepid hotels or at accommodation of your choice, you don’t have to be registered and pay any registration fees. Intrepid will take responsibility for registration of passports at our first place of stay in Russia including any associated costs. If you are arriving more than 7 days prior to the start of the trip, or staying more than 7 days post-trip, you will need to be responsible for your own passport registration and any extra charges for this service. Failure to register could lead to problems at immigration when departing the country.
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. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. 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. There's no obligation to do this though.
Vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and choices may be limited to soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans will find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.
11 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
Car, Boat, Train (bullet), Minibus
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Domina Prestige Hotel
99, Moika River Embankment
Phone: 007 8123859900
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Vozdvyzhensky Boutique Hotel Бутик-отель "Воздвиженский"
60-a,b Vozdvyzhenska Street Вул. Воздвиженська, 60А,Б
M. Kontraktova Square
Phone: +38 44 531 9900
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
Most nationalities require a visa for Russia. You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes called a Voucher or Visa Support Letter in order to apply for your visa.
You can obtain your LOI online through our local partners in Russia. Instructions and a link to the website will be sent to you at the time of booking. Read the instructions carefully and fill in the online application form. You will then be able to download your LOI instantly. Please note that we will add 3 days to the LOI duration before and after your trip dates for your convenience. If you are planning to stay longer than these dates please let us know as we will need to manually request a LOI to fit your specific travel plans.
The LOI included in the cost of your tour is for a Single Entry Tourist Visa. LOIs for other types of visas may be organised at your own expense and paid directly to our local partners, Parallel 60 (www.parallelsixty.com)
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You must apply for your Russian visa in advance. Visas are not available on arrival or en-route. Once you have received your LOI it is your responsibility to apply for your own visa either directly at an embassy or by using a visa agent. We do not recommend trying to obtain your Russian visa outside of your home country or place of residence as your application may be refused.
Use ONLY the information and dates on your LOI when filling in your visa application. There is no need to reference Intrepid Travel or include a copy of your itinerary as Parallel 60 is the official inviting organisation, not Intrepid. Do not be concerned if the destinations and accommodation listed do not match your Intrepid trip exactly. This information is for the purposes of obtaining the visa only, not an indication of where you must travel and stay in Russia.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Letter of Invitation (LOI)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4)
* Flight or other transport details - if required
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
Please be aware that visa extensions are NOT possible in Russia.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:
Train tickets in Russia are booked with passport numbers. Please make sure you provide us with your correct passport number. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip. If we receive changes to passport numbers less than 30 days prior to departure we cannot guarantee purchase of train tickets.
We do NOT recommend travelling on multiple passports for trips that involve border crossings by train. This can cause difficulties with train ticket bookings and cause significant issues delays at Immigration.
WARNING – MIGRATION CARDS
All foreign citizens entering Russia are required to fill in a migration card. The entry portion of the card will be retained by Immigration upon arrival. The stamped exit portion of the card must be kept with your passport during your stay in Russia and submitted to Immigration upon departure. If you are not given a migration card at Immigration on arrival you must request one, even if the immigration official says that you do not need one. Loss or failure to receive the exit portion of the card will result in you not being able to travel on our trip as all hotels require this card for registration and may result in significant delays or fines upon departure.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance, Visa Support letter - Yes
Switzerland: No - Not required
United Kingdom: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Some nationalities are now visa free to Ukraine. Please check your own visa requirements carefully.
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
Some nationalities that require a visa may also need a Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes known as a Visa Support Letter, in order to apply for a Ukraine visa. As of 2013 travellers from Australia and New Zealand no longer need the LOI in order to apply. Should you require a LOI please notify us at the time of booking and ensure you send the following information no later than 30 days prior to departure:
* Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
* Nominate which embassy you will apply for your visa
Please note that it can take up to 7 business days to receive the LOI from our Ukrainian partners. The LOI is included in the cost of the trip, however should your embassy require other support documents you may be charged an additional fee.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You require a Single Entry Tourist Visa for this trip.
Surname and first name of the inviting person(s) in Ukraine. If not applicable, name of hotel(s) or address of applicant’s temporary accommodation(s) in Ukraine:
1/3, Mikhailovskaya street1
+380 44 279 49 25
Address of inviting person(s)/hotel(s)/temporary accommodation(s) in Ukraine:
Name and address of inviting company/organisation:
If LOI required please use the information on the document. If not required - N/A.
Surname, first name, address, telephone, telefax, and e-mail address of contact person in company/organization:
Issues on your trip
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. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
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 you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. 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. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
In some parts of Russia and Central Asia it is important to boil drinking water before use.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
POTENTIAL HEALTH ISSUES:
Giardia intestinalis, a parasite that causes severe diarrhoea has been reported from time to time in the water supply in Russia. For this reason Intrepid recommends against drinking unboiled tap water in all Russian cites.
In spring and early summer in rural areas of Russia and Mongolia ticks are prevalent. Please take precautions when walking in these areas by wearing long trousers and boots and check your clothes and body thoroughly.
The diet and hygiene standards of Russia, Mongolia and Central Asia may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc. and bring some medication/rehydration salts etc. should you experience stomach problems.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
We continue to monitor travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and our local partners on the political situation in Ukraine. While travel to some parts of the country (ie. Crimea) not advised, the majority of the country is currently safe and open for travellers and we intend for our itineraries to run as normal.
The situation in Kyiv and western cities has calmed considerably following months of violent protest during which nearly 100 people were killed, though occasional non-violent public demonstrations continue in and around Independence Square, St Michael’s Square and outside the Verkhovna Rada (parliament building). Elsewhere in Kyiv, life has largely returned to normal. You should avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, as even peaceful protests may turn violent.
Be alert to the possibility of street crime and petty theft. Foreigners may appear to be lucrative targets. Don’t lose sight of your credit cards during transactions. If you take the overnight train, make sure your belongings are secure. Where possible, avoid walking alone late at night in dark or poorly lit streets. Keep valuables and cash safe and out of sight, especially in crowded areas, tourist spots, and public transport, where pickpockets and bag snatchers operate. A common scam is to drop a wallet or bundle of money in front of a tourist. The criminal then “finds” the money and asks if it is the tourist’s or offers to share the money with them. If you are approached in this way, you should walk away without engaging in conversation.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
Local interaction is certainly big part of travelling experience in Intrepid trip just be careful when it comes to drinking with the locals and playing cards with strangers on the Trans Siberian and Trans Mongolian train journeys. Remember that often vodka sold on platform and by attendants is very low quality and can be dangerous for your health. "Card sharpers" (card sharks) will offer to play cards masked as a local travellers, the ultimate intent is to play for money.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
We recommend that you dress respectfully at all stages of the trip especially when in and around religious sites. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for both men and women. Women are advised to cover their heads when entering functioning churches in Russia, while men should remove their hats.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Russia include:
* Nochlezhka focuses on providing for St Petersburg's homeless community. Its Night Bus project provides a mobile social support point: two specially equipped minivans that are visited by up to 150 disadvantaged people each night. Every visitor receives a hot meal and tea, a nurse is able to provide first aid, specialised social workers can assist street children, and clean, warm clothes are also available.
Please advise your leader if you have any unneeded clothing or toiletries you would like to donate, so that they can arrange for them to be passed on to Nochlezhka.
Intrepid Travel also supports the following non-profit organisation:
*Upsala Circus shows children and teenagers from social risk groups with the method of circus pedagogy an alternative from the street and to integrate them into the society.
As the only organization of its kind in Russia, Upsala Circus directly connects the professional circus and theatre art, with social work. By the everyday training in the circus and attendance at circus festivals, the children and teenagers from social risk groups experience exciting and difficult challenges. The circus is referring to "high risk" nearly like the life on the street. It appeals to them with magic, lets them explore their individual skills, makes them stronger and motivates them to create their lives in society in an active way.
More information about Upsala Circus can be found at their web-site www.upsala-zirk.org.
Carbon Offset C02-e 608.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.