Cossacks, Cold War & Cosmonauts
The Ultimate Adventure into Dark Tourism
Three, two, one and blast off, on a trip that’s once in ten lifetimes! Get as close as a regular human can to space travel with a visit to Roscosmos, the largest working space port in the world, located deep in the desert of remote Kazakhstan. Explore the history of Russian space travel, from the launch of the first man into space and throughout recent history. A hat tip to ‘dark tourism’ this trip also delves into the use of gulags in both Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as the use of nuclear power and weapons by the former-Soviet Union at the Semey test site and the Semipalatinsk polygon. In Russia visit the town of Akedemgorodok, Russia’s ‘Scientific Vatican’, stand on the border between Europe and Asia in Yekaterinburg and tour and ex-Soviet submarine with a crew member. Visit ‘Star City’ in Moscow, check out the Museum of Rocket and Space Corporation and take a tour of a genuine soviet bunker.
Experience the long-distance rail network in both Kazakhstan and Russia, with the Russian section of this trip along the Trans-Siberian Railway and stay in traditional, locally owned hotels throughout.
- Blast off to remote Kazakhstan with a trip to the space base of Roscosmos and visit the Tian-Shan Astronomical observatory outside Almaty, as well as Russia’s ‘Scientific Vatican’ at Akedemgorodok near Novosibirsk.
- Visit some of the worlds most amazing ‘dark tourism’ sites with sobering visits to the gulags of Russia and Kazakhstan, Semipalatinsk polygon nuclear test site and tour an ex-Soviet submarine with a former crew member
- Discover ‘Star City’ in Moscow, home to Russia’s cosmonaut training facility for a visit to the Museum of Rocket and Space Corporation “Energia”
- Stand on the border between Europe and Asia in Yekaterinburg and visit the church which now stands on the spot where Russia’s last ruling family, the Romonov’s, met their grisly end
- Traverse almost the entire Eurasian continent by train, including along the Trans-Siberian railway and stay in locally owned and operated hotels throughout.
Finish: St Petersburg
Trip style: Signature
Max group size: 15
ALMATY – ST PETERSBURG
$16 850 AUD*
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Trip code: CCAS *from
Duration: 34 Days
Trip style: Signature
Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15
Trip code: CCAS
Cost: $16 850.00 AUD twin share
Single supplement: $2375.00 AUD
- 33-nights’ accommodation in traditional family run, unique, small hotels
- Flights Moscow to Kaliningrad and Kaliningrad to St Petersburg in economy class
- All train tickets as mentioned in itinerary
- Meals as per itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
- Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides
Optional experiences (not included):
- Moscow: Ballet performance at the Kremlin
- Moscow: Cosmonaut Training Exercises
- St Petersburg: Kayak in Canals
* Please note some optional experiences must be booked prior to travel. You will be given the option to add these experiences at check out
Trip price does not include
- International airfares
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- Visa for Russia or Kazakhstan (if required)
- Any expenses associated with COVID-19
- Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
- Additional accommodation before or after the tour
- Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
- Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas
Journey Rating – Quest
As a once in ten lifetimes experience, this trip which focuses on ‘Dark Tourism’ is bound to be a bit of a challenge. Both in Kazakhstan and Russia people will not be used to travellers, with the exception of Moscow and St Petersburg, and this will be especially true of places like Baikonur, Kaliningrad, Murmansk, Perm and Semey. Train journeys for most of the trip will be long overnight sleeper trains in 4-berth (two up/two down) compartments. Eastern squat style toilets are likely to be the norm in restaurants, unscheduled toilet breaks and public toilets in small or remote towns, especially while in Kazakhstan. Due to the sensitive nature of some sites visited officials may seem a little over-zealous and somewhat intimidating at times. While every effort is made to keep to the advertised itinerary, it is the nature of places like Kazakhstan and remote regions of Russia that the itinerary may need to change on the ground due to evolving local conditions – so it’s very important to pack an easy-going attitude and most of all a sense of humour.
Dietary requirements should not be an issue while traveling on this trip, however those on gluten free, vegetarian and vegan diets are advised to bring some supplemental snack food from home as food options on the trains are very limited.
A note about fitness
This trip requires a good level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 4km at times and manage uneven surfaces during sightseeing, which will sometimes be at an incline. In addition, you should be able to climb up to 200 stairs unassisted and use an eastern style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues).
You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from coaches and minibuses, into the accommodation and on and off the trains. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.) Trains in Russia and Kazakhstan are sometimes accessed by a large step up and sometimes a vertical step ladder (think about getting in/out of a pool), and cabins are in a 4-berth (two up/two down) configuration. You must be able to climb into the top bunk via the use of a slender ladder as a bottom bunk cannot be guaranteed.
In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through very remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.
Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!
In this instance the single supplement covers all twin share accommodation, it does not cover a single cabin on the trains, something which is unfortunately not possible.
Trip leader description
Accompanying you along your journey will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:
- If you lose your passport or other travel documents
- If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
- If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
- Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
- Questions regarding the itinerary
Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.
This itinerary is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.
While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.
Minimum Age: 18 years
Due to the sensitive nature and remoteness of some of the sites visited, we are unable to accept children on this trip.
There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.
Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.