Komi Republic: Gulags & Ghost Towns

‘’Even in the Taiga, there is happiness’’
― Unknown

  • Description
  • Itinerary

Moscow – Syktyvkar – Ukhta – Pechora – Vorkuta – Moscow

On our gulags on the tundra tour, we journey deep into the far North of Russia where few people venture. These are the industrial heartlands which were built upon the unmarked graves of many unfortunate victims of Soviet gulags. Many of the inhabitants of the cities on our journey will either be surviving gulag prisoners or direct descendents of them.

At the collapse of the USSR, these industrial powerhouse cities became blackened ghosts of their former glory. Today the landscape is dotted with ghost cities, abandoned Soviet checkpoints and crumbling monuments to the power of the Soviets. Join us on our journey through the Tundra and see the the forgotten side of Russia.

Day 1 – Moscow

  • We’ll meet up in Moscow in the morning and hit the ground running with our quintessential Moscow tour
  • We’ll take in key sights such as the KGB Building, Metropol Hotel, Bolshoi Theater, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, GUM department store and round off at the incredible fallen monument park, With the fall of the USSR, the thousands of Soviet statues were destroyed or dispersed. Some of the most formidable ended up here in the Fallen Monument Park.
  • We’ll then head to a great local Georgian restaurant for evening meal before heading to our home for the next day or so
  • Overnight on the train

Day 2 – Train through the Northern wilderness

  • We’ll enjoy coffee delivered to our cabin and head to the restaurant for a Russian breakfast.
  • The rest of this day will be spent on the train where you can lose yourself in a good book, enjoy the stunning scenery or meet your fellow locals travelling to the far North of Russia.
  • On the train you’ll be briefed about the Komi Republic, its history and rules to follow whilst travelling through the Komi Republic.
  • Lunch and evening dinner on the train
  • Overnight on train

Day 3 – Syktyvkar

  • We’ll arrive at Syktyvkar station and head to our nearby Soviet era (but comfortable) hotel where we’ll have a chance to rest and freshen up after the train ride.
  • We’ll grab lunch and kick off a city tour of Syktyvkar taking in the monument to Vladimir Lenin, the national theatre of the Komi Republic, the many striking monuments to the local population who perished during the second world war and we’ll pay a visit to the quirky and interesting Komi Republic Museum.
  • Along the way we’ll be able to see a wonderful contrast between the Soviet Brutalist architecture and the traditional and quaint wooden houses native to this region.
  • Free time to explore the city at your own pace.
  • Traditional Komi dinner and the chance to try some local beer and vodka.
  • Overnight in Syktyvkar.

Day 4 – Ukhta

  • In the morning we’ll grab breakfast at the hotel before heading to the train station and board the Soviet Polar Train to the centre of the Komi Republic, our destination will be the mining city of Ukhta. A city founded in the 17th century but expanded through the toil of gulag prisoners during the late 1940’s and 1950’s. This is also the birthplace of Roman Abramovich!
  • The scenery from the train is some of the most unique in Russia. We’ll traverse vast foreboding forests, crumbling villages constructed in the traditional wooden way and ghostly checkpoints abandoned since the Soviet Union.
  • We’ll hit Ukhta in the early evening and begin a tour of the downtown taking in the local WW2 monument, Lenin memorial sign, monument to the pioneers of the north, the eternal flame and the museum of oil and gas.
  • Traditional dinner and Baltic beer.
  • Overnight in Ukhta.

Day 5 – Pechora

  • After breakfast, we’ll board the train to the subarctic city of Pechora with a reputation for bleakness.
  • A Stalin-era gulag operated here from 1932 to 1953, but was mostly emptied out of desperation in 1941 and most prisoners were drafted into the Red Army.
  • We’ll see the sights around town and check out the Pechora museum where they display many of the records and artifacts that were recovered from the gulag.
  • There isn’t enough places of interest to spend overnight here, so we board the night train to Vorkuta in the late evening!
  • Dinner and overnight on the train.

Day 6 – Vorkuta

  • In the early hours we’ll pull into the coal mining metropolis of Vorkuta in the early hours, this is a tough mining city full of hard bitten people who are either surviving gulag prisoners or those descended from gulag inmates. Vorkuta was the location of one of the biggest gulags in the USSR: Vorkutlag.
  • We’ll head to our hotel and secure an early check in to have a short rest and freshen up before heading out and exploring the Soviet sights of the town and check out the museum of local lore
  • We’ll see the eerily abandoned ghost town of Rudnik
  • Dinner and overnight in Vorkuta.

Day 7 – Flight home or onward travel

  • We’ll enjoy a farewell breakfast at the hotel before you meet your driver who will transfer you to Vorkuta airport for your flight home or your onward flight. We can arrange additional excursions all over Russia to follow on from this tour.
  • End of tour

Tour Info


Price at request


6 nights, 7 days

Tour Highlights

To be added

Inclusions and Exclusions

Tour price inclusion:

  • Private, comfortable Transport
  • 24 hour services of Soviet Wastelands guide and local guides
  • All accommodation
  • Russian letter of invitation
  • All local tours and admission fees

Tour price exclusion:

  • Visa Fees (if applicable)
  • Food and drinks
  • Souvenirs and personal expenses
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