Essential Russia
from $1465
Duration: 9 Days
Hop on this whirlwind tour through Russia from the majestic Kremlin Palace to the artsy Nikola-Lenivets Park, and finish in stunning St. Petersburg. With the hot banyas and warmth of its people, Russia ain't so cold after all, so don't be surprised if you're not Russian to leave once the trip finishes.
  • An epic symbol of Russia, Red Square has also long been at the heart of the country's history. Visit the austere mausoleum of Lenin, then there are plenty of places to get your culture fix like checking out the eye-bulging treasure collection in the Kremlin and Armoury Museum.
  • Venture into the countryside to visit Europe's largest art-park, Nikola-Lenivets, and see gigantic art installations, largely made of wood, some that you can climb into and explore.
  • Stroll along the oh-so-pretty streets and canals of St Petersburg and glimpse its imperial past in its baroque and neoclassical palaces, cathedrals and world-class theatres.
  • Moscow's metro stations are an attraction not to be missed. Nicknamed underground palaces, these stations help the Moscovites commute in serious style.
  • Delve deeper into Russia culture with a relaxing soak in a banya (Russian-style sauna).
  • Moscow - Kremlin & Armoury Guided Tour
  • Moscow - Red Square & Lenin's Mausoleum
  • Moscow - Red Square
  • Nikola-Levinets - Banya (Russia sauna)
  • Nikola-Lenevets - Nikola-Lenivets Art Park
  • Moscow - Leader-led metro tour
  • St. Petersburg - Pub crawl
  • St Petersburg - walking tour
  • Day 1 Location: Moscow
    Zdrastvutye! Welcome to Russia. The great city of Moscow has survived centuries of revolution and tumult, 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. There’s so much to see and do in Moscow that it’s worth arriving a few extra days before the start of the trip. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm this evening, then take an orientation walk with your leader before an optional dinner for your first taste of delicious Russian cuisine with your new friends. 
    Day 2 Location: Moscow
    Visit the mausoleum of Russia’s most famous revolutionary – Lenin. He was the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution that ushered in the era of communism, and you will join the queue lining up to visit his austere, eternal resting place on Red Square. Then enter the Kremlin grounds with a local guide, home to the oldest and most important churches in the country, where many Tsars and Tsarinas are laid to rest. Walk through the soaring towers and cathedrals of the political and spiritual heart of Russia before entering the Armoury Museum, home to an eye-bulging former royal collection of ambassadorial gifts, Faberge eggs, coronation robes and glittering jewels. 
    Day 3-4 Location: Nikola-Lenivets
    Pack your bags for a two-night stay in Nikola Lenivets. The group will take the metro to Moscow Train Station and travel to the nearest town where you'll transfer to Nikola Lenivets, a 650-hectare landscape park and open-air contemporary art space. The park was created, or perhaps more accurately dreamed up, by a young Russian architect looking for a space to engage in creative activities. Some people would've started a blog, he decided to start a community. Take a guided walking tour in the park as an introduction to the history, idea and art projects inside. You won't be able to see all the projects together, but everyone will have plenty of time and freedom to explore the park at their own pace and check out the projects and activities. Optional experiences include bike hire, a woodworking workshop, yoga classes and a visit to a family farm, or simply just walk around the serene surroundings and chat with the interesting souls frequenting the park. The full story is fascinating, and can be read at: http://nikola-lenivets.org/park-about-en.
    Day 5 Location: Moscow
    Travel back to Moscow for a free afternoon and evening exploring the city. Return to the Red Square if you wish, check out a few of the many museums or stroll the banks of the Moskva River.
    Day 6 Location: Moscow - Overnight train
    Today your leader will take you on a tour of the super-lush Moscow metro stations. These stations are unlike any metro you've had the displeasure of riding before, and look more like elegant 1920s ballrooms than the starting point of a daily commute. Mayakovskaya Station, for example, hosted headquarters of anti-aircraft defence in 1941 as well as a Supreme Soviet session, and on the ceiling, you'll find 34 mosaics called depicting 24 hours in the Soviet sky. It's considered one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world for good reason. Visit this, as well as other stations adorned with more mosaics chandeliers. Head to the train station in the evening and catch the overnight train to St Petersburg.
    Day 7 Location: St. Petersburg
    Arrive early into St Petersburg, Russia's current cultural, and former imperial, capital. With incredible art and architecture, this is a fascinating city to walk around. Take a quick tour with your leader to get to know the city, get your bearings and walk past iconic sights like Nevsky Prospect, Kazan Cathedral and the Hermitage Museum, not to mention the streets that played host to that ridiculous scene in Golden Eye where James Bond drives a tank through town. Shaken, not stirred, indeed. In the evening you'll take a pub crawl around town to see two different faces of the Russian drinking culture. The first is a ryumochnaya, or "vodka-glass place", which appeared in the city during the 19th-century. Enjoy traditional soviet snacks like pirozhki (small Russian pies), lard on bread, boiled eggs and mayonnaise, and bread with herring or salami. Afterwards, your leader will show you some of the modern pubs at the forefront of the ever-growing craft beer scene popular with the younger crowds. Try a Vasileostrovskoye, perhaps the most famous beer in town, or ask the bartender to suggest their favourite.
    Day 8 Location: St. Petersburg
    St Petersburg is built on 42 islands and also known as the Venice of the North. Forget gondoliers though, this is a city to explore on foot and today you can spend the day crossing its rivers and canals at your own pace (which will vary depending on your enthusiasm at last night's pub crawl). Take in the ridiculous views across the city from the colonnade at St Isaac's Cathedral, or stroll down St Petersburg's main street. Pop into one of the awesome bakeries or coffee shops along the way, or maybe head down to Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra, where Russia's great musicians and writers including Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky are laid to rest in the cemetery. A whole day could be spent wandering the halls of the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest and oldest museums in the world that houses one of the world's premier art collections. Whatever you choose, the city is easy to get around and your leader can help you make the most of your free day. In the evening, why not get the crew together and seek out a cosy restaurant for a final farewell.
    Day 9 Location: St. Petersburg
    Your Russian adventure will come to an end today. There are no activities planned. St Petersburg has so much to offer, so we recommend that those who wish to see more extend their stay by a day or two.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    14MAY2022
    Return Date:
    22MAY2022
    1465NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    11JUN2022
    Return Date:
    19JUN2022
    1465NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    09JUL2022
    Return Date:
    17JUL2022
    1465NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    23JUL2022
    Return Date:
    31JUL2022
    1465NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    06AUG2022
    Return Date:
    14AUG2022
    1465NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    20AUG2022
    Return Date:
    28AUG2022
    1465NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    03SEP2022
    Return Date:
    11SEP2022
    1465NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    08 Sep 2021

    Trip title

    Essential Russia

    Trip code

    WBYA

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2022

    Introduction

    Hop on this whirlwind tour through Russia from the majestic Kremlin Palace to the artsy Nikola-Lenivets Park, and finish in stunning St. Petersburg. With the hot banyas and warmth of its people, Russia ain't so cold after all, so don't be surprised if you're not Russian to leave once the trip finishes.

    Style

    Basix

    Themes

    18 to 29s

    Transport

    Metro,Train,Overnight train,Private vehicle

    Physical Rating

    2

    Physical preparation

    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. 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 point

    Centeral Hostel

    #1 Petrovskie Linii Street улица Петровские линии 1

    Moscow

    RUSSIAN FEDERATION

    Phone: 495 1369259

    Joining point instructions

    Moscow has 4 international airports (Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Zhukovsky). Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo are the most commonly used by our travellers. BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: All airports have public transport links that allow you to get to our starting point hotel cheaply and quickly. From Sheremetyevo you can take the airport express train (RUB500, 30-40 minutes) to metro station Belorusskaya (Белорусская) on the dark green & brown (circle) lines. The train runs every hour from 6am to midnight. You can find timetables and buy aeroexpress ticketы on-line at www.aeroexpress.ru. From Domodedovo, the airport express train runs every hour to metro station Paveletskaya (Павелецкая, RUB 500, 40 to 50 minutes) on the brown (circle) & dark green lines. From Vnukovo airport, the airport express train goes to Kievskaya (Киевская) metro station on the dark blue & brown (circle) line and takes approx. 35 minutes (RUB 500). The nearest subway station is Kuznetsky Most (Кузнецкий мост) on the Purple Line 7 There is only one exit of the station from where it's 600m walk to the hostel. Out of the subway station, turn right and follow Rozhdestvenka street to intersection with Sandunovsky Pereulok. From intersection turn left and keep walking till Neglinnaya street. Turn right on Neglinnaya, keep on the left side of the road. Hostel is located in the next side street. Green door with the hostel sign. Follow instructions on the elevator to get to the property. If you get lost, you can show this to any passer-by: Пожалуйста, помогите мне. Я потерялся. Где улица Петровские линии 1 BY TAXI: The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hostel takes at least one hour depending on traffic and should cost around 4000RUB (approx. US$65, to be paid in local currency). Avoid taxi touts. From all airports we recommend you use the services of one of the official taxi desks (such as MosCab) located on the ground floor inside the arrival terminal. ARRIVAL TRANSFERS Arrival transfers are available - if you have pre-booked a transfer with us your driver will be waiting for you at the arrival hall (inside), beyond the passport control, after getting luggage and clearing customs. As you exit to the arrivals – you’ll see plenty of drivers holding signs, just look for a sign Intrepid + Your Surname If you can't allocate the driver - call the following number of the local supplier: Ilya 007 916 156 49 69 In rare case if local supplier not answering – call Russia Emergency Number listed below Please note that driver will be waiting for you for 1 hour after your arrival time If you experience flight delay or luggage lost, please don’t hesitate to call above numbers so we can coordinate your transfer more efficiently

    Finish point

    Cameo Hotel Отеля Камея

    #90/6 Fontanka river embankment Набережная реки Фонтанки, д. 90, кор. 6

    St Petersburg

    RUSSIAN FEDERATION

    Phone: 812 3281515

    Important information

    1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is not available on this trip. 2. In order for our local operator to book train tickets we require the following information at time of booking or no later than 60 days prior to departure. • Passengers full name • Full Passport Details (number, expiry, issued) • DOB • City of Birth 3. We stay in multi-share accommodation with shared facilities in Moscow and Nikola-Lenivets. 4. Pre & post accommodation is not currently available on this trip.

    Group leader

    All 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 are 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.

    Safety

    Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your 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 or relax and take it easy. While your 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 Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-guidelines

    RUSSIA Most visits to Russia are trouble-free, but petty crime does happen in cities. In St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well-organised gangs. Be aware of pickpockets in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses. Bogus police officers have harassed and robbed tourists. If you are stopped always insist on seeing identification.Avoid openly carrying expensive items. Avoid walking about late at night alone. Incidents of violence in major cities are usually linked to criminal/business activities and are not usually directed against foreign visitors. If you are travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat. Don’t leave your sleeping compartment unoccupied as some compartments only have a simple lock on the sliding door. On some trains there may be an additional security device, which can be attached to the fitted handle/lock unit. There may also be a steel switch at head-height on the door panel which, when pulled down, prevents the closed door from being slid open. Don’t agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment. When on international trains crossing borders, you should be extra vigilant and pay special attention to your luggage to be sure that no one else has put anything in your luggage.

    Visas

    PASSPORT You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. As a general rule, most countries require that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets exactly and contact us immediately if there are any errors. We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leave copies at home with family or friends. VISAS Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time. It is important that you check your government's foreign travel advisories along with the consular website of the country or countries you are travelling to for the most up to date information specific to your nationality and circumstances. Please be aware that not all visa information found online from other sources may be valid while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time. Your booking consultant can advise on a visa processing service or you can apply yourself directly through a consulate. COVID-19 Entry and Exit Requirements Below you will find general visa advice about the destinations on your trip. Due to constantly evolving COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, please refer to your government's foreign travel advice for the most up to date information.You may also refer to our travel alert page for more info https://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/travel-alerts Make sure you are familiar with the current border measures and entry requirements as these are quite complex and changing frequently without notice. Please also ensure you have a travel insurance policy that covers your travels as well as medical or COVID-19 related expenses within the country. RETURN TRAVEL Please ensure you stay up to date with any current testing or quarantine requirements for returning to your home country or transiting through other destinations after the completion of your tour. We are able to help facilitate taking a COVID-19 test while on trip. Please ensure you have funds available to cover the cost of this test which will be payable directly to the testing site. Your Intrepid Tour Leader will provide more details at the group meeting as well as assist with booking appointments for all travellers who need to be tested. RUSSIAN VISAS Most nationalities require a visa for Russia.  RUSSIA - LETTER OF INVITATION (LOI) You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes called a Voucher or Visa Support Letter in order to apply for your visa. Logins and your trip code will be sent to you at the time of booking so that you can obtain your LOI online through our local partners in Russia, Parallel 60, via this link:  https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/russian-letter-invitation-loi-and-visa You will then be able to download your LOI instantly. Please note that the LOI included in the cost of your tour is for a Single Entry Tourist Visa. We will also add 3 days to the LOI duration before and after your trip dates for your convenience in case you have booked pre or post accommodation. If you require a different visa type or are planning to stay longer than these dates please contact Parallel 60 (www.visain.ru) directly to request a LOI to fit your specific travel plans. INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR RUSSIAN VISA APPLICATION: Once you have obtained your LOI you can apply for your visa. You must apply for your Russian visa in advance. Visas are not available on arrival or en-route. It is your responsibility to apply for your own visa either directly through a consulate 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 us or include a copy of your itinerary as Parallel 60, our Russian partners, are the official inviting organisation. Do not be concerned if the destinations and accommodation listed do not match your trip exactly. This information is for the purposes of obtaining the visa only, not an indication of where you must travel and stay once in Russia. DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR RUSSIAN VISA APPLICATION: * Letter of Invitation (LOI) * Photocopy of your passport * Passport size photos  * Flight or other transport details (if requested) * Please check with the consulate for any other specific requirements VISA EXTENSIONS IN RUSSIA Please be aware that visa extensions are NOT possible in Russia. INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR RUSSIAN 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 35 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. RUSSIAN MIGRATION CARDS All foreign citizens entering Russia are required to fill in a migration card on arrival. 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. If you travel to Russia from one of the Custom Union countries – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, please ask for one when going through immigrations into one of these countries or make sure to get one when entering into Russia.

    Why we love it

    An epic symbol of Russia, Red Square has also long been at the heart of the country's history. Visit the austere mausoleum of Lenin, then there are plenty of places to get your culture fix like checking out the eye-bulging treasure collection in the Kremlin and Armoury Museum.

    Venture into the countryside to visit Europe's largest art-park, Nikola-Lenivets, and see gigantic art installations, largely made of wood, some that you can climb into and explore.

    Stroll along the oh-so-pretty streets and canals of St Petersburg and glimpse its imperial past in its baroque and neoclassical palaces, cathedrals and world-class theatres.

    Moscow's metro stations are an attraction not to be missed. Nicknamed underground palaces, these stations help the Moscovites commute in serious style.

    Delve deeper into Russia culture with a relaxing soak in a banya (Russian-style sauna).

    Is this trip right for you

    We stay in a hostel in Moscow and a Russian style country house in Nikola-Lenivets, which are both multi-share. It's a great chance to meet other like-minded travellers and an authentic Russia "dacha" experience. This trip is far from hand holding - with a limited number of activities included there is plenty of time to bring out your spirit of adventure. Your tour leader will give you suggestions and directions to help make the most of the time on the trip. The pub crawl in St Petersburg aims to give you an authentic taste of local culture with one drink included in each pub, but it's not specifically a "drinking tour" and participants will need to drink responsibly. Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

    Health

    RUSSIA GIARDIA Giardia intestinalis, a parasite that causes severe diarrhoea has been reported from time to time in the water supply in Russia. For this reason, we recommend against drinking unboiled tap water in all Russian cites. IMPORTANT - BANNED MEDICATIONS By law, travellers bringing prescribed medicines into Russia must carry a prescription in the patient's name, that includes the name of the drug and prescribed quantity. According to official channels, if your medication contains "narcotic or psychoactive substances", a notarised translation into Russian is also required. This may include medications containing codeine or opiates, sleeping pills, medication for ADHD, antidepressants and strong painkillers. Some medicines that you can buy over the counter in your home country may require a prescription in Russia. There have been cases of travellers being detained at border crossings when undeclared or banned medications have been discovered by customs sniffer dogs. If you’re unsure whether you need to provide a prescription and notarised translation to bring your medicines into Russia, check with the Russian Embassy before you travel. TICKS In spring and early summer in rural areas of Russia ticks are prevalent. Please take precautions when walking in these areas by wearing long trousers and covered shoes, and check your clothes and body thoroughly. HYGIENE The diet and hygiene standards on this trip may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc. and bring some medication/re-hydration salts etc if you commonly experience stomach problems with a change in diet.

    Food and dietary requirements

    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.

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling. RUSSIA The official currency of Russia is the Ruble (RUB). 1 ruble = 100 kopeks. ATMs are widespread in Russia so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit or debit 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. If you are travelling to remote parts of the country you will need to prepare cash exchanged into local currency. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. 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. TIPPING IN RUSSIA: If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is 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. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: - Restaurants/cafes with table service: We suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added. - Local guides: Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest 100- 200 RUB per person per activity day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for a for a full day. - 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 a base of 100- 200 RUB per person, per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day. - Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $US3-5, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, 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 isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. Please do not tip with coins, notes of and less than 10 RUB or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult. BUDGET FOR MEALS NOT INCLUDED: Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last-minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result, there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs.

    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, 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

    Climate and seasonal

    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

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with our Responsible Travel Guidelines. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. For additional Conditions of Carriage regarding COVID-19, see here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/conditions-carriage

    Feedback

    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/ 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.

    Emergency contact

    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 the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office: Intrepid’s Local Operator: +7 918 6151572

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable, and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers, and staff are trained on these principles and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    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.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted 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 your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Travellers who reside within the European Union or Switzerland receive basic international health insurance, so travel insurance is not mandatory under European Union Law. However, as this does not cover situations such as emergency rescues, private health care, or repatriation to their home country, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. European Union or Swiss travellers who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting. For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services

    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. SOLO TRAVELLERS This is the beauty of our style of travel: many of our travellers join because they are travelling solo and want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport or the information we have in our booking system, so if you identify differently from the gender marker on your passport, please let us know in advance. We also have a Single Supplement available on most trips for travellers who prefer to have their own room. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will on a single room basis. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on an open gender, multi-share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, 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 maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that 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. If you are unsure about when to book your tickets please get in touch with your booking agent and find out what times and dates are free for you to see a show. As we don't want you to double book yourself! 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. Here are some useful internet sites to check for what will be on (ballet, opera, exhibitions, etc) in Moscow and St Petersburg: www.mariinsky.ru, www.bolshoi.ru and www.mikhailovsky.ru

    Accommodation

    Hostel (3 nights),Hotel (2 nights),Guesthouse (2 nights),Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

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