Transnistria, South Ossetia, Chechnya and Russia Combo
We’ve worked on this tour for a while, but now we bring you back to the heart of Soviet Europe.
This tour coincides with the Transnistrian and South Ossetian National Day celebrations, two of the last surviving Soviet-style military parades left in Europe! The tour will begin with a journey into the secretive state of Transnistria, which was commonly referred to as ‘’Europe’s North Korea’’ just a few years ago. We’ll explore the two biggest cities of the republic, abandoned Soviet sites and much more before heading to Saint Petersburg.
The Russia segment will be an epic trip which takes us through the most exciting parts of the former Soviet Union! From shooting Kalashnikovs and seeing polar bears to visiting the blood spattered trail of the Russian revolution culminating in Siberia, at the site of the murder of the Romanov family.
For our South Ossetia segment we’ll start an epic train journey through the heart of Southern Russia to Vladikavkaz, the gateway to the Caucasus! Here we’ll see all the local sights, from Soviet monuments to harrowing terrorist attack sites. From here we’ll cross through the Caucasus mountains to South Ossetia to check out the capital city of Tskhinval, take part in their independence day celebrations featuring one of the last Soviet style military parades left in the world and travel to the war-torn city of Leningor checking out Soviet monuments, local culture and ancient history on the way.
Our next stop will be the capital of the Chechen Republic, Grozny, once labelled as the most destroyed city on the planet after the vicious civil war which engulfed the republic for almost two decades. During that period, Chechnya was deemed as the most dangerous place on earth for a number of years. Today, it has seen the war brought to an end through the iron-fisted reign of the Kadyrov regime and a rebuilt Grozny has been called ‘the Dubai of the Caucasus’.
After Chechnya, we’ll board a train north through the volatile republic of Dagestan to the site of the most brutal battle in human history and the turning point of WW2: Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad! The tour finishes in style as we visit the biggest statue of Vladimir Lenin on earth, enjoy lunch in a Soviet airplane and much more!
If you’re interested only in a particular portion of the tour, check out the standalones below:
- Transnistria 30th National Day and Gagauzia Tour
- Revolutionary Russia Tour
- South Ossetia National Day Tour
- Chechnya/Stalingrad Tour
|Group||Start Date||End Date||Price (Euro)|
|Group A (Transnistria and Russia)||29th August 2019||18th September 2019||€1490|
|Group B (Tranistria, Russia & South Ossetia)||29th August 2019||22nd September 2019||€2290|
|Group C (Transnitria, Russia, South Ossetia & Chechnya)||
29th August 2019
|24th September 2019||€2490|
|Group D (Transnistria, Russia, South Ossetia, Chechnya & Stalingrad)||
29th August 2019
Saturday 29th August – Bucharest
- Guests arrive at own leisure and transfer to our centrally located hostel near the gara de nord area of Bucharest
- Meet at 6pm and head out for a group dinner at Caru Cu Bere in the old town of Bucharest.
- Overnight at our hotel.
Sunday 30th August – Bucharest
- We’ll check out and store our luggage in the hotel baggage room.
- We’ll meet our local Romanian guide for a day tour of Ceausescu’s Bucharest! No trip to Romania would be worth its salt unless we went and looked at everything and anything Ceausescu related, the don of Eastern Bloc extreme. We will do a local walking tour, seeing all the must-see sites from “revolutionary” times such as the enormous Palace of the Parliament, see where the Communist regime went down in flames on the bullet riddled streets around Revolutionary Square, see the churches that avoided Communist destruction by being placed on wheels and slid across the city and much more.
- Free afternoon in Bucharest to explore the old town at your own leisure before meeting up back at the hotel in the evening to collect our bags and head to the train station.
- We’ll board the 19.15 train to Chisinau, this is an old school Communist era 4-berth sleeper and still has the made in the DDR plates on some of the walls!
- During the night, we’ll pass border control and the train will be lifted off the tracks to change wheel gauge
- Overnight on sleeper train
Monday 31st August – Chisinau
- Early morning arrival in Chisinau and transfer to our central hotel.
- Check-in and catch up on some much-needed rest
- Traditional Moldovan Dinner at La Placinte.
- City walking tour of Chisinau. We’ll visit the abandoned National Hotel, see one of the most stunning monasteries in the city which was thankfully spared destruction under Communism, see the infamous city prison which has been declared a breach of human rights amongst other things.
- We’ll see the enormous World War II Memorial and climb some tanks and surface to air missiles at the Military Museum!
- Return to the hotel for an afternoon trip to Cricova Winery to see the wine making process and to of course sample a good amount of Eastern Europe’s best wine! This is one of the most fantastic wine cellars you are ever likely to see. We’ll enjoy a sampling of traditional Moldovan food here also.
- After some free time at the hotel we’ll head for a hearty meal at a local institution and drinks downtown.
- Overnight in Chisinau
Tuesday 1st September – Tiraspol
- Breakfast in the hotel
- We’ll meet our Transnistria fixers for the 2 hour ride to the breakaway republic of Transnistria. YPT will deal with all permits, border formalities and conversations with the Transnistrian KGB/MGB.
- After checking into the original Soviet Intourist hotel, we’ll kick off our city tour of Tiraspol.
- We’ll walk down the main street called October 25th street which has a billboard of former President Smirnoff: The warlord who turned president for almost twenty years. We’ll see the embassies of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the foreboding HQ of the infamous Sheriff organization and stop at a bookshop to pick up some Russian and Transnistrian nationalist paraphernalia, a mug with Putin or a fridge magnet of ICBMs firing across the atmosphere, why not?
- We’ll then stop at the impressive House of the Soviets, built in Stalinist style with a large bust of Lenin outside.
- We’ll mix with students at the Dolce Vita cafe, an inexpensive place with great buffet style food and the eatery of choice for students at nearby Tiraspol university.
- We’ll then transfer to the other end of October 25th street to see the North Korean style statue of Russian General Suvorov. Surrounding it are the flags of Russia, Transnistria and the breakaway brotherhood states of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and South Ossetia.
- Have you picture taken in front of a giant crest of Transnistria featuring the hammer and sickle!
- Visit Parliament, housing one of the biggest statues of Lenin outside Russia.
- Visit the Eternal Flame Memorial complex dedicated to the Soviet-Afghan war, WW2 and the Transnistrian civil war. Check out the battle damaged T-34 monument to WW2, it’s permitted to climb on it and get an awesome photo.
- We’ll then switch it up and board an old Soviet ferry without an engine and cross the Dniester river to see how the village people live across from Tiraspol. This is an area truly lost in the USSR!
- We’ll visit a still functioning palace of culture with an enormous head of Lenin outside, pockmarked with Kalashnikov bullet holes after Moldovan troops symbolically executed him during the civil war.
- We’ll then visit a stunning and completely self sufficient monastery complex that has to be seen to be believed. We know many of the priests there and sometimes they allow us to sample their incredible homemade wine, however, this is subject to whether the one priest with the key is available on the day.
- We pay a visit to a local store which hasn’t changed since the USSR and still uses an abacus to calculate the total. Here we’ll stock up on $3 Kvint Cognac (One of the best Cognacs in the Soviet era), $1 Vodka and local smoked cheese.
- We then head to a stunning viewpoint and Soviet obelisk that was one of the most brutal battlefields during WW2. In the Russian speaking world, it’s respect to the dead to raise a shot of Cognac or Vodka in their honour and we’ll do just that!
- Return to Tiraspol and head for dinner at 7Fridays, a Tiraspol institution!
- Afterwards we can head to one of the countries few nightclubs and try our hand at Russian karaoke!
- Overnight in Tiraspol
Wednesday 2nd September – Tiraspol TRANSNISTRIA NATIONAL DAY
- We get up early and go to the center for a Russian Party Style Breakfast! There will be many outdoor Shashlick stands on October Street selling very cheap Russian BBQ, salads and vodka! Take your pick of a good area and sit at the many tables lining the road.
- After our Russian Party Breakfast, we walk down October Street viewing all the Soviet attractions, including live music and dancing.
- We then stop at 7 Fridays. The most popular Western Style Cafe in Tiraspol. There is a menu from around the world and cheap Russian beer and vodka. We take a private table and wait until the start of the parade.
- When the parade is about to start we go outside and walk to the center for the best view of the Soviet Style Army Parade! Bring your cameras! There will be no western journalists here, so your photos and videos will be priceless. We will also witness the speeches of the Transnistria President and Russian Diplomats from Moscow. *Maybe even Putin?*
- After the parade and speeches, we go back to the party area, where the parties continue all day and well into the night.
- After the fireworks, we go to a local bar or disco to continue the party well into the night.
- Overnight in town.
Thursday 3rd September – Chisinau
- After breakfast, we bid farewell to the Transnistria National Day group as we depart back to Chisinau and head to the airport for our flight to Russia.
- Evening arrival in Russia where we’ll check into our hotel and head out for dinner.
- Overnight in Saint Petersburg.
Friday 4th September – Saint Petersburg
- Free day in Saint Petersburg whilst we wait for those arriving for our revolutionary Russia tour.
- At 6pm we’ll head out for an evening meal and round off the night in a Ryumochnaya (the Russian word for shot glass), these drinking holes are as close as you’ll get to the drinking traditions of 19th-century Russia. Cheap and unpretentious, they were a step up from drinking at home (or in the street), the place to go if you couldn’t afford a restaurant in both the USSR and 90s Russia. At our local favourite, there is no sign outside but you can spot the place by the large head of Lenin in the window. The traditional order would be zakuski – Russian hors d’oeuvres of dill pickles, sausages, pickled herring – consumed with alcohol.
- Overnight in Saint Petersburg.
Saturday 5th September – Saint Petersburg
- We hit the ground running with a Soviet tour of Saint Petersburg.
- First, we’ll visit the famous museum in The Cruiser Aurora, a famous vessel that fired the first shot that launched the Russian Revolution.
- We’ll then visit the Finlyandsky Railway terminal, best known as the terminal that Vladimir Lenin used to return to Russia from Germany to start the 1918 Revolution, Lenin rode into St. Petersburg on engine #293 disguised as a railway worker, after previously previously fleeing persecution after the July Days riots.
- We will then visit Tauride Palace, one of the oldest and largest palaces in St. Petersburg. It was built by Catherine the Great. This was the site where the revolutionary provisional government was formed in 1917.
- We’ll visit the famous Lenin Memorial Museum, here we will view Lenin’s office and living quarters, the assembly hall in which Lenin spoke, as well as the former school for the girls. The gallery is one of the few Lenin museums still in existence.
- Visit to the Apartment Museum of the Alliluevs, or ‘Lenin’s secret flat’ was home to Sergey Allileuv, a Russian revolutionary and his daughter Nadezhda Allilueva, Stalin’s second wife. Alliluev was also a participant in the October 1917 Revolution. The Allileuv’s provided refuge to Lenin and Stalin when both were fugitives.
- We’ll then visit Uprising Square with its imposing Soviet monument, called so due to the numerous political uprisings and protests that have occurred there.
- Dinner and overnight in Saint Petersburg.
Sunday 6th September – Saint Petersburg
- After breakfast, we indulge in the Tsarist history of Saint Petersburg.
- We’ll be taking in the stunning Admiralty house, the Kazan cathedral and the picturesque church of the saviour of spilled blood.
- We’ll then visit the world famous Hermitage museum, former winter palace of the Tsars, and explore its many world class artifacts. This is the 2nd biggest art museum on the planet, so we will assign a meetup point and time for you to explore areas specific to your interest.
- Free time in the evening to explore any specific sights you wish to see yourself in Saint Petersburg.
- We grab our bags and board the night train to Moscow.
- Overnight on the train.
Monday 7th September – Moscow
- We arrive in Moscow in the morning, grab some breakfast at the train station and transfer to our hotel to drop off our bags and meet our local guide for the day.
- 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.
- Overnight in Moscow.
Tuesday 8th September – Moscow
- After breakfast we head out early to see Lenin’s embalmed body in his mausoleum on Red Square.
- We head out of Moscow in a private car to the famous Kubinka centre, the world’s biggest tank museum. It has a gigantic collection of Soviet tanks from pre-WWII to modern day. It also features a huge amount of captured German tanks from WWII, as well as tanks of other countries. Here you will have the rare chance to see stunning military equipment from all over the world. Featuring the huge German self-propelled mortar Karl Gerat and one of only two Maus tanks left in the world weighing 188 tons.
- Return to Moscow where you will have some free time to explore any specific sights you wish to see yourself in Moscow.
- We grab our bags and board the night train to Kazan, the capital of the autonomous Tatarstan.
- Overnight on train.
Wednesday 9th September – Kazan-Ulyanovsk
- Morning arrival, we grab breakfast at the station or nearby then transfer to our hotel.
- We will meet our local Tatar guide to take a tour around the beautiful city of Kazan.
- Our first stop will be the Kazan Kremlin – one of the most beautiful Kremlin in Russia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- We will then take in sights such as the Qol-Şärif Mosque, Söyembikä Tower, Staraya Tatarskaya Sloboda – one of the oldest districts in Kazan where many historical buildings have been preserved and practically each of them are connected with a figure of Tatar culture, Bogoroditskaya Monastery – where the Vatican copy of the Our Lady of Kazan Icon is held, Ss Peter and Paul’s Church – one of the most beautiful churches in Tatarstan and perhaps even Russia with unusual decorations and mouldings, Kazan Registry Office – in the form of a giant Kazan cauldron, Kazan-Arena stadium – built for the 2013 Summer Universiade.
- We will then board the train to the birthplace of Lenin, Ulyanovsk, arriving around midnight we will check into our hotel for a well earned rest.
- Overnight in Ulyanovsk.
Thursday 10th September – Ulyanovsk
- After breakfast, we will head to the most famous site in the city: The Lenin memorial centre. This massive memorial centre dedicated to Ulyanovsk’s most famous son is crammed with busts, photos and portraits of Lenin, from his time as a young revolutionary to his evolution as the figurehead of a Soviet cult.
- We will then visit the family home of Lenin in the city.
- We will then walk across Russia’s most famous river, the mighty Volga!
- Check out the impressive monument to Dmitriy Razumovskiy, a local special forces soldier who was slain whilst rescuing children during the horrific Beslan school siege.
- We then check out the impressive aviation museum featuring over 40 planes and helicopters from the USSR, if we’re lucky, we’ll have the chance to walk out onto the wing of a rare Tupolev 144!
- We enjoy an evening meal and a relaxing evening before taking the night train to Izhvesk, Russia’s weapons manufacturing capital.
- Overnight on train.
Friday 11th September – Izhvesk
- We store our bags in the station and grab breakfast before heading to the Izhmash museum, dedicated to the Izhmash plant which produced motorbikes and Kalashnikovs. On display are many rare motorbikes and a relaxed arsenal of weaponry.
- We then pay a visit to a centre dedicated to the man who created arguably one of the most lethal weapons of mass destruction in human history: The MIkhail Kalashnikov Museum, charting the creation of the weapon and the life of Kalashnikov. You will be allowed to fire a Kalashnikov if you wish as the museum basement has a firing range. Bring your passport and driver’s license if you wish to fire weapons.
- After lunch, we’ll then pay a visit to the Izhvesk city zoo home to arctic foxes, Amur leopards and polar bears.
- After dinner, we’ll then take the night train deep into the Ural mountains to the city of Yekaterinburg.
- Overnight on the train
Saturday 12th September – Yekaterinburg
- Arriving around 10am we’ll check into hotel and begin a tour of the city of Yekaterinburg.
- We’ll see the Square of 1905, the square became the center of revolutionary events in the city during the early 20th century, In 1905, the Bolsheviks revealed the Manifesto of October 17. The rally was interrupted by the Black Hundreds and the Cossacks, and the ensuing fight resulted in several deaths.
- We’ll check out the 5 story tall Yekaterinburg City Administration built during the Soviet Union period, it is to this day a spectacular sight to behold due to its marvelous architectural design.
- City Dam built in 1723 and served as the base for the industrial expansion of the city. Today, it is home to a prominent monument of the Industrial Age, the statue of Tatishev and De Genin.
- We’ll see the Keyboard Monument, 86 concrete keys arranged in the shape of a QWERTY keyboard. It represents Western technological culture, but maintains the tradition of Eastern stone gardens. The Keyboard Monument is thus perfectly situated, as it stands on the border of Europe and Asia.
- We’ll see the State Academic Philharmonic which is one of the best in Russia. On the opening day of the Philharmonic, the State Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of U.S. conductor Vladimir Savich, performed Tchaikovsky’s “Sixth Symphony” and Respighi’s “Pines of Rome”. The latter was performed for the first time in the Soviet Union.
- A historic highlight of the tour will be the Church of All Saints which is a Russian Orthodox church, built in 2003 on the site where the former Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and several members of his family and household were executed following the Bolshevik Revolution.
- We’ll check out Rastorguev – Kharitonov’s Palace arguably the grandest palatial residence in the Urals. It’s former owner was jailed for life for the cruel treatment and torture of serfs.
- We’ll check out the incredible Black Tulip Memorial, a recreated cargo space of a military transport plane that used to transport the bodies of dead Russian soldiers back home from the Afghan war. Such aircraft were called “Black Tulips” by the Afghan veterans. The names of the 240 soldiers killed in Afghanistan are carved on the ten pylons of the monument. After the anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya, granite plates with the names of servicemen killed in Chechnya and Dagestan were added to the memorial.
- We’ll see the Statue of Yakov Sverdlov a Bolshevik revolutionary and close ally of Vladimir Lenin before rounding off our walking tour at the opulent opera and ballet house built in a similar style to the Odessa and Vienna opera houses.
- There is then the option of free time or a visit to the military technology museum, this vast indoor and open-air collection of tanks and armoured vehicles is located on the northern outskirts of Yekaterinburg in Verkhnyaya Pyshma. It’s one of the largest of its kind in the world, with an extensive range of large military tanks and helicopters located outdoors, and smaller military craft and retro automobiles on display indoors.
- Evening meal and overnight in Yekaterinburg.
Sunday 13th September – Izhmash
- After breakfast, we check out and store our bags at the hotel and jump in the car to explore what makes Yekaterinburg infamous across the world. We show you the most dramatic period of Russian history, the time of the Revolution. After the brutal execution of the Romanov family, the corpses were transported out of the city and put in an open mine called Ganina’s Pit. Hand grenades were thrown down the mine shaft by their executioners. The bodies were taken out of the mine, dissected and burnt into ash. There is a monastery there founded in 2000 after the visit of Patriarch Alexy II – the Head of Russian Orthodox Church. The churches were built with the local timber without the aid of any nails.
- After taking in this priceless historical area, we head into the Ural mountains, regarded as the border between Europe and Asia. To the west of the Urals lies European Russia, the cradle of the Russian culture and to the east lies the vast land of Siberia. You will visit the obelisk between Europe and Asia. You can put one foot in Europe and another one in Asia and take some unique photographs. On the way you will stop at the memorial complex, which was set up in 1995 in honour of the victims of Stalin’s repression.
- Returning to the city, we grab our bags and take the epic 31 hour train journey back to Moscow.
- Overnight on the train.
Monday 14th September – Yekaterinburg
- Most of the day on the train where your YPT guide will keep you entertained, relax in the restaurant car and have some beers and vodka to celebrate the completion of your epic Russian journey!
- We’ll be arriving in Moscow around 22:00 and check into our hotel and rest up.
- Overnight in Moscow
Tuesday 15th September – Moscow
- Free day in Moscow as we wait for those arriving for our South Ossetia tour.
- We’ll meet up in the evening and head out for a hearty Russian dinner and get to know our new arrivals.
- Overnight in Moscow.
Wednesday 16th September – Moscow/Train
- Breakfast at the hotel before we check out and store our bags.
- For those who’ve just arrived, we’ll kick off a Moscow city tour taking in the Soviet Disneyland of VDNKh, featuring a Vostok rocket, a Soviet Tupolev aircraft, tons of stunning Soviet art and an imposing Lenin.
- We’ll then see the Cosmonaut museum with Yuri Gagarin’s original spacesuit and the incredible monument to the Cosmos outside.
- We’ll then check out Red Square and the KGB headquarters
- We’ll leave in the evening for our mammoth train journey to Vladikavkaz, the gateway to the North Caucasus and home to one of the biggest military bases in Russia!
- Overnight on the train.
Thursday 17th September – Train
- We’ll enjoy breakfast in the restaurant car of the train and spend the rest of the day on board, stopping off at various points for snacks, drinks, souvenirs and a chance to stretch your legs on the platform.
- On our trip we’ll be journeying through the Cossack heartland of Southern Russia, seeing what was once some of the worst battlefields on WW2 and your YPT guide will be on hand to answer any questions and keep you entertained all the way.
- Dinner and overnight on the train.
Friday 18th September – Vladikavkaz
- Morning arrival in Vladikavkaz.
- After check in and breakfast we’ll begin a city tour of Vladikavkaz.
- We’ll see The beautiful Mukhtarov Mosque set against the dramatic backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains. It was used to serve the Ingush residents of Vladikavkaz before they were expelled from North Ossetia in the 1990s.
- We’ll then check out the enormous Soviet monument to Issa Pliyev on horseback. He was a Soviet general who commanded forces during the battle of Moscow and Stalingrad and also played a vital role in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Visit the Victory Park full of hulking Soviet monuments to the NKVD, Cossacks, WW2 battles. The park also features one of the last surviving statues of Josef Stalin left in the former USSR, locals claim Stalin was an Ossetian and he is well thought of here.
- We’ll then walk down the picturesque main boulevard of Vladikavkaz set against the might Caucasus mountains, here we’ll have a traditional Ossetian lunch with Caucasian tea and people watch.
- If dates align, we’ll try and catch a concert at the national university of North Ossetia.
- Overnight in Vladikavkaz
Saturday 19th September – Vladikavkaz – Tskhinvali
- End of group A: YPT is able to arrange onward transportation for those leaving us here.
- Groups B/C/D continue:
- After breakfast we’ll meet our driver and have an early start as we visit the site of the Beslan school massacre and pay our respects. In 2004, during the height of the 2nd Chechen war, a group of terrorists captured the school and took over 1,100 people hostage. After three days and a raging battle with security forces, over 334 people (including 186 children) lay dead.
- We’ll grab lunch to go on the road then begin the 4-5 hour drive to Tishkinvali, on the way we’ll stop to see the imposing Soviet monument to the Red Army soldier and hero of the Soviet Union Peter Barbashov who sacrificed his life during the brutal fighting for the city of Vladikavkaz in 1942. There are also a selection of original WW2 tanks and weaponry alongside the monument.
- On the way we’ll stop at some incredible beauty spots and monuments in the mountains.
- We’ll use the infamous Roki Tunnel to cut through the Caucasus mountains before reaching the South Ossetia border, this will be tense and questions will be asked by men in suits but fear not, your YPT guide will take care of all formalities and get you inside.
- Keep an eye out on the road to South Ossetia and you’ll see various artillery guns on standby.
- After arriving in the capital of South Ossetia, we’ll check into our hotel, drop our bags and freshen up before meeting our local high ranking host who will be overseeing our visit to the country and ensuring everything goes smooth.
- We’ll walk through the main city park and see the ‘I love Tshkinval’ sign before going for dinner at one of the best eating spots in the city which is often frequented by the South Ossetian president. We’ll order traditional South Ossetian Chacha to toast your arrival in one of the hardest to visit breakaway republics on earth.
- Overnight in Tskhinvali
Sunday 20th September – Tskhinvali – South Ossetia Independence Day!
- Breakfast in Tskhinvali
- We’ll begin a city tour of the capital city of South Ossetia. We’ll start at the former Intourist hotel of the Soviet era, still functioning but riddled with bullet holes and rocket blasts.
- We’ll then explore the former train station and the plinth outside that once held a statue of Josef Stalin. After this we’ll head down the main street and see the university, outside is the turret of a Georgian army tank which was destroyed outside the train station before embedding itself in the concrete.
- We’ll take our prime spot to see the Military Parade. Representatives of all other breakaway states including the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics will be in attendance and possibly Assad or Putin. If we are lucky, the republic will also roll out Grad launchers, tanks and artillery for the parade.
- We’ll then enjoy lunch in the form of free food trucks from all regions of South Ossetia at the “South Ossetia Cultural Festival”, accompanied by live traditional music, dance and other performances. The South Ossetian president will be walking around with his delegation.
- Free time to enjoy the days celebrations with firework display in the evening.
- We’ll meet up as a group in the evening to have dinner.
- Overnight in Tskhinval.
Monday 21st September – Tskhinval
- Early start and breakfast in Tskhinval
- We’ll start by exploring the old town of Tskhinval, this is a harrowing experience and it has been left the same since it was obliterated in a Grad rocket strike in 2008. Many buildings are in ruins still with inhabitants. There is a former synagogue here and only one Jewish person left living in the city.
- We’ll then drive out to the highway of death monument, a sobering ring of burnt out cars which were part of a refugee column fleeing the capital. Many were slaughtered in a rocket strike on the column and the memorial stands as testament to the war crime.
- We’ll drive along the lonely mountain road to Leningor, the second biggest city in the republic and inhabited by Georgians. On the way we’ll be passing through stunning scenery and war torn ghost towns.
- We’ll stop at 8th century fortified churches on the way with stunning views of the Caucasus mountains.
- In Leningor, we’ll see the local museum, medieval monuments, Soviet WW2 memorial and monuments to Pushkin. Here it’s possible to buy Georgian wine, brandy and bizarrely, even magnets saying ‘I love Georgia’.
- We’ll enjoy a traditional Georgian lunch in Leningor before returning to the capital.
- Dinner and overnight in Tskhinval.
Tuesday 22nd September
- Breakfast and free morning in Tskhinval to explore the city
- Around 11, we’ll return to Vladikavkaz
- Late afternoon arrival in Vladikavkaz
- Group B: end of tour. YPT is able to assist in onward transportation.
- Groups C and D continue:
- Dinner and overnight in Vladikavkaz
Wednesday 23rd September
- After breakfast we’ll meet our driver and depart for the 2 hour drive through Ingushetia to the republic of Chechnya, formerly the most dangerous place on the planet. The security situation has now stabilized there and it’s safe to travel.
- After checking into our hotel we’ll meet our local Chechen guide and head for a traditional lunch before exploring the city.
- We’ll start at the bottom of Vladimir Putin Boulevard and explore the Kadyrov museum; complete with a tank and gold-plated monument outside, it’s dedicated to the family of the ruling regime here, and it really is a sight to behold!
- We’ll then walk down the main avenue and see the press house, site of the most recent attack on the city by Islamic insurgents.
- We’ll explore the bustling Chechen bazaar and buy some souvenirs before heading to the Akhmat Kadyrov mosque, one of the biggest mosques in the region.
- We’ll then ascend to the helipad of Grozny business plaza for a birds eye view of the city once called ‘’the most destroyed city on earth’’ by the UN in the 1990s.
- We’ll enjoy a traditional Chechen dinner of Zhig Zhig Galnash (a sorta garlicky beef stew with boiled dumpings).
- Overnight in Grozny.
Thursday 24th September
- Group C: end of tour. YPT is able to assist in arranging onwards transportation.
- Group D continue onward:
- We’ll have an early start for our train to Volgograd and settle into our Soviet-era transport for the day.
- Day on the train with lunch and dinner to be obtained on the platforms at various breaks in the journey.
- Overnight on the train.
Friday 25th September
- We’ll arrive in Volgograd in the morning and head to our nearby hotel to check in.
- After a short rest we’ll head out and explore the city that was the site of the most brutal battle mankind has ever witnessed.
- Our first stop will be the WW2 Museum, arguably one of the best in the world. In the museum complex, amongst a mass of tanks and weaponry, is the former grain mill that was a fierce fighting position during the battle of Stalingrad and it still bears countless scars of war.
- We’ll see Pavlov’s house — a fortified apartment complex that a Red Army platoon held for over 60 days during a heavy Wehrmacht offensive. The house is named for the commander of the platoon, Yakov Pavlov.
- Explore the interior of the WW2 Museum, featuring countless artifacts including the sniper rifle of Vasily Zaitsev, the Sword of Coventry and an impressive 3D panorama of the Battle of Stalingrad to give you an idea of the different points where the battle raged.
- We’ll then visit the nearby Lenin statue with a mural of the defenders of Stalingrad behind before visiting the stunning Volgograd Planetarium featuring stunning Soviet-era architecture, a gold mosaic of Stalin and a huge bust of Yuri Gagarin.
- Lunch in a Soviet-era InTourist restaurant
- We’ll then divert down a nondescript side street next to a derelict supermarket; below here is the former command bunker of General of the 6th Army: Von Paulus. It was from here that he commanded German troops during the battle and was received news of the betrayal by Hitler. It is now an incredible museum which we’ll explore thoroughly.
- After the bunker, we’ll check out the craft beers of Volgograd in an underground bar that still bears the scars of WW2 on some of the walls.
- Dinner and overnight in Volgograd.
Saturday 26th September
- After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll meet our driver for the 1.5 hour drive out into the rural Volga Region. We’ll visit the Volga-Don Canal and see the mind blowing ‘Meeting of the Fronts’ memorial. It was at this point, during the infamous Operation Uranus, that two Soviet Fronts surrounded the German forces at Stalingrad and formed a ring of steel that began to rapidly close and inevitably destroy the German 6th Army, arguably the turning point of WW2.
- After exploring the monument, we’ll then check out the stunning park on the banks of the Volga featuring many Soviet monuments to Young Pioneers, Cosmonauts, WW2 heroes and even billboards to global Communists from the DDR to North Korea!
- We’ll check out Lenin in the village before returning to the outer ring of Volgograd to see a real trip highlight: none other than the biggest statue of Vladimir Lenin on the Planet! Standing over the mighty Volga at over 57 metres, this is the biggest monument to a human being ever created and has to be seen to be believed. A slightly smaller monument to Stalin formerly stood here, but was torn down in the 1950s.
- After this we’ll have a lunch stop at a very interesting spot: an Armenian restaurant built into a former Aeroflot YAK 40!
- We’ll then head to a monument of a T-34 battle tank that took part in the battle for Stalingrad.
- We’ll then see the Kazansky cathedral. One of the few churches to survive the Russian Revolution, it was heavily damaged during the battle of Stalingrad and was even used in the early days by Nazi troops to hold a mass to celebrate a presumed quick victory that would thankfully never come.
- The day will culminate in arguably one of the most important WW2 battlefields in existence, the infamous hill of Mamayev Kurgan.
- We’ll explore the complex in depth and take in its mass of awe-inspiring Soviet monuments, all loomed over by the enormous Rodina Mat — the tallest statue of a woman in the world.
- Explore the small but well-done Stalin Museum dedicated to the infamous Soviet leader.
- We’ll then have coffee in the adjoining WW2-themed cafe with a giant portrait of Stalin looming over you, and the option to dress up as a Red Army soldier whilst you dine!
- Returning to Central Volgograd, we’ll stop at the city courthouse, which is a prime example of Soviet Brutalist architecture featuring an impressive relief of Marx, Engels and Lenin bordered with a giant hammer and sickle and a Young Pioneer flame.
- Evening meal at a very good local steakhouse restaurant in the city.
- Overnight in Volgograd
Sunday 27th September
- End of tour
- Onward travel throughout Russia or back to Moscow can be arranged by YPT.
- Be one of the few tourists to visit two post-Soviet breakaway states
- Complete one of Russia’s most epic train journeys from Moscow to the wild Southern frontier of the Caucasus
- Witness the harrowing war ravaged sites of the 2008 Russo-Georgia war as well as forgotten monasteries over 1,000 years old.
- Cross two continents and even stand on the line that divides Europe and Asia.
- Be one of the few tourists to visit Chechnya, a place classed as the most dangerous region on earth in the 1990s.
- Visit Stalingrad, the site of the most brutal battle in human history and the turning point of WW2.
- Explore the stunning Volga Don canal and the heap of forgotten Soviet relics that hug its banks.
- Visit the Kadyrov Centre, a museum dedicated to the powerful regime that enforced order in Chechnya after decades of sheer lawlessness.
Inclusions and Exclusions
Tour price inclusion:
- Accommodation in mentioned hotel on twin sharing basis
- All transport as per itinerary
- Local guides
- Entrance fees for all mentioned monuments
Tour price exclusion:
- International air tickets
- Visa Fees (YPT can provide a Russian LOI: €35)
- Single supplement (Not available on train : €735)
- Visa if needed (YPT can provide support)
- All meals
- Any personal expenses & services not included in the above
- Tips for local guides and drivers
- External costs as mentioned in itinerary