FIERY COSSACKS and gentle monks
Rostov – Azov Sea – Stalingrad – Astrakhan – Kalmykia – Stavropol
This tour is offered on a regular basis from April to early June and again from late August through October. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the ask-us button below and we will match your preferences with the relevant scheduled group departure. If you are unsure about the month you wish to travel in, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will give you a wide range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours!
Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with friends and there are 5 or more of you, you can set your own dates and we will organise a tour just for you without charging any additional fee. If you are travelling solo or with less than 4 companions we will organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.
Day 1 - Rostov on Don
In the morning you will meet our tour guide in the lobby of the designated hotel (exact hotel address and meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email; private airport pickup and shuttle service available for a small additional fee).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in Southern Russia.
Rostov Soviet tour: .
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Rostov on Don.
Day 2 - Sea of Azov
Today we’ll head to the mysterious Sea of Azov and enjoy a melancholic tour along its sandy coasts.
Memorial Slavy Na Sambekskikh Vysotakh
Soviet military city of Tangarog
city of Azov
Dinner and overnight in Rostov on Don.
Day 3 - Tsimlyansky Reserve
Tank Memorial Tatsinsky District
Dinner and overnight in the reserve.
Day 4 - Quiet Don
Kalash na Donu , Pyatimorsk
Dinner and overnight in Stalingrad.
Day 5 - Stalingrad
We’ll devote the entire day to Stalingrad, a heroic Soviet city that really needs no introduction: it was here, amid bombed out buildings and corpse-filled streets, that the spiralling course of WWII, aka the Great Patriotic War, was eventually changed for good.
Nazi Germany Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels once famously said: a thousand years hence, every German will speak with awe of Stalingrad and remember that it was there that Germany put the seal on her victory; well, history proved him wrong as he didn’t reckon with the indomitable spirit of the Soviet people, who stalwartly and relentlessly fought for every single inch of their glorious motherland.
Besides enjoying an extensive tour through Stalingrad’s de-rigueur Soviet sights (Mamayev Kurgan Memorial Complex, Stalingrad Battle Panorama Museum, Alley of Heroes, Central Railway Station, Pavlov’s House, Lenin Square, Volgograd Hotel, Flour Mill, Stalingrad Planetarium), we’ll take also some time to experience less solemn but equally compelling facets of the city such as the colourful central bazaar and the melancholic city beach.
A vast plethora of modernist shapes, Soviet mosaics, and socialist-realist bass-reliefs will accompany us throughout our visit: an urban paradise for the art-and-architecture enthusiasts amongst us.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Stalingrad.
Day 6 - Baskunchak
We'll set off on a bumpy journey across the steppes and head to the salty waters of Lake Baskunchak, the very Soviet version of California's Salton Sea.
Just outside Stalingrad, we’ll first stop in Krasnoarmeysk to stare in awe at a giant Lenin Statue towering above the entrance of the Volga-Don Canal and dwarfing even the nearby lighthouse: this is, in fact, the highest Lenin in the world.
We'll follow the course of the mighty Volga for most of the time, driving down the old Soviet road connecting Astrakhan to Stalingrad and crossing a surreal and dystopian landscape of windswept steppes, Mad-Max-style settlements and industrial decay.
Finally we’ll visit the military town of Akhtubinsk, once one of Soviet Union’s many closed cities and still home to a military testing range.
Dinner and overnight in Akhtubinsk.
Day 7 - Mighty Volga
We’ll leave Akhtubinsk early in the morning and head down south to the splendid port city of Astrakhan.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the long haul in Rechnoe, a forlorn fishing hamlet home to an impressive Buddhist temple dating back to the XIX century.
We’ll then devote the rest of the day to Astrakhan, the pearl of the Volga Delta, a marvellous city with plenty of Soviet and pre-Soviet history to showcase.
In addition to the mandatory Soviet and Tsarist sights (Lenin Statue, WWII Memorial, White Kremlin, Old Embankment), our tour around Astrakhan will also include more mundane and arguably also more interesting spots such as smelly fish markets, ancient Tatar mosques and highly photogenic backstreets of rickety wooden houses, fluttering clotheslines and playing kids.
We’ll then conclude our stay in Astrakhan with a lavish dinner of (legally-obtained) black caviar and sizzling sturgeon skewers!
Meals and overnight in Astrakhan.
Day 8 - Kalmykia
We will leave Astrakhan early in the morning for the 5-hour-long journey to the Republic of Kalmykia, an oddly fascinating and melancholically beautiful autonomous region mainly inhabited by friendly Mongolic people.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the long haul in some pretty traditional Kalmyk villages such as Khulkhuta and Yashkul.
Once in Elista we’ll undertake a comprehensive tour around this remote provincial capital where Soviet heritage and Buddhist traditions merge together to form an idiosyncratic urban kaleidoscope of socialist monumentalism and colourful pagodas.
Highlights of our Soviet and post-Soviet tour around Elista will include: Cinema Rodina, Central Bazaar, Seven Days Pagoda, Buddha Shakyamuni Golden Abode, Old Hurul, Lenin Statue, WWII Monument, Deportation Memorial and a few selected art-for-architecture hidden gems (mosaics, bass-reliefs, and murals alike).
Our visit will also include a short detour to Chess City, a mostly empty and truly surreal upscale neighbourhood built around an incongruously large Chess Palace. Why the heck such a pompous urban homage to the game of chess amid the barren badlands of Kalmykia? Well… the story behind Chess City is even crazier than the place itself: search for Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on the web or (even better) wait for your trip to Elista to learn more about this obscure post-Soviet tale of eccentric madness and thwarted ambitions.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Elista.
Day 9 - Stavropol
From Elista we’ll
Stavropol Soviet Tour: Victory Park, Eternal Glory Memorial,
Dinner and overnight in Stavropol.
DAY 10 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Cossack-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: we will arrange transfer to Stavropol Regional Airport for your flight back home via Moscow.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: we will arrange transport to the local train/bus station.
End of the tour.
3 to 9 participants: 2990 € per person
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 20 euro/night), private transport in the region (jeep or minivan), entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights and any other flight not explicitly included in the tour price and itinerary, meals, drinks and tips, transport to and from the airport of arrival/departure (35 euros/ride), visas if required, entrance fees to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. The trip can be also operated the other way round, starting in Stavropol and ending in Rostov on Don.
Airport pickup/transfer in Rostov and Stavropol is available for just 35 euros per ride.