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.

The Basics

Start: Almaty

Finish: St Petersburg

Trip style: Signature

Max group size: 15

34 Days


$16 850 AUD*

This tour is currently on pause

To be notified when this tour resumes click the button then select ‘Cossacks, Cold War & Cosmonauts’ from the drop down menu.

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: CCAS *from


Arrive in Almaty and make your own way to the trip hotel. Meet your trip leader and travel companions for a welcome meeting to discuss the finer details of your ultimate adventure into the world of ‘Dark Tourism’, at 17.00. After the meeting, head out into cosmopolitan Almaty to a local restaurant for a special dinner.

We begin our day in Almaty with a tour of the Almaty Metro which was begun in the times of the Soviet Union. The project collapsed with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the metro was not finally completed until 2011. Like its Moscow counterpart the metro is home to elaborately decorated and palace like stations which are well worth a look.

Our next stop will be the Almaty Cossack Museum. The Cossacks are a predominantly east Slavic Orthodox Christian people originating from the area around the steppes of Ukraine and Russia. By the end of the 18th century Cossacks had become a special military class, similar to knights in medieval and feudal times. Cossack forces played an important role in several of Russia’s conflicts, including the Seven Years War, Crimean War, and the Napoleonic Wars.

After lunch in a local restaurant the remainder of the evening will be yours to explore Almaty on your own, before we head to the station to board our first long distance train.

We spend today on the move travelling the tracks from Almaty to Baikonur. You might wish to spend the day practicing your Russian (or Kazakh) with other people on the train, playing cards with your travel companions or just watching the amazing scenery of Kazakhstan go by.

We will arrive at the Russian space port of Baikonur in the very early hours of the morning and transfer to the hotel to get some sleep and settle in.

Once we have rested from our long journey, we will begin our investigation of Russian Space travel. Our first stop will be the launch pads from which both Russian and international rockets are sent into space, followed by a tour of the Zenit launch facility. This facility has been designed to be environmentally clean and is able to launch a rocket into space only ninety minutes after it has reached the launch pad.

Our next stop will be the museum of the Baikonur Cosmodrome where we will get an overview of the use of this facility over the years, this will be followed by a visit to the cottages of Korolev, the father of Russian space travel, and Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

We will also have a tour of the small town of Baikonur, learn about the history of the town and visit monuments to the heroes of space.

Our final stop for the day will be the Baikonur International Space school. Over the last twenty-five years the school has had over two thousand graduates who have gone onto careers as cosmonauts, engineers or other professions associated with space travel.

Today we continue our exploration of the Baikonur Space Port. We will visit the Saturn Tracking Station, Proton Launch Pad and Energia-Buran launching facilities. The Energia-Buran system includes a single complex for launching and testing super-heavy Energia boosters.

In the afternoon we will visit the Energia Bunker, Yubileyny airfield, built for the development of the Buran reusable spacecraft program, before transferring back to the town of Baikonur to visit the Monument to Weightlessness.

This morning we will visit Pad 17 and the Cosmonaut hotel from which space travellers are farewelled before their trips to the stars. We will walk along ‘Cosmonaut Alley’ where, according to tradition, each space traveller plants a tree before blasting off.

Finally, we will view the Soyuz MS Launch pad before reboarding the train to our next destination.

* Please note that the situation at the Cosmodrome of Baikonur is highly changeable and the itinerary can change at any time. While we will endeavour to provide the itinerary as stated, it is inevitable that the itinerary will change due to local conditions. This disclaimer allows Inverted Atlas absolute discretion in changing this part of the itinerary – this also means the itinerary can be changed if we are able to secure exclusive access, witness a launch or other access to something really special at the Cosmodrome.

Today is another day spent in motion. You may wish to use this time to reflect on your experience at the Cosmodrome, watch the scenery of the Kazakh steppe or spend it chatting to your travelling companions.

Our train will arrive in Karaganda in the very early hours of the morning, where we will transfer to our hotel to check in and get some rest.

After a late start to recover from our trip, we will begin our exploration of the city of Karaganda. We will visit Karaganda’s Independence Square, Soviet Murals, and the monument to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

After lunch we will visit Karaganda’s regional museum, which will give us an overview of recent Kazakh history of the 18th-20th centuries.

This morning we will take a trip outside Karaganda to the village of Dolinka, home to the Karlag Museum, a museum detailing the political repression of the Stalinist gulag system. Housed in the main building of one of Stalin’s largest gulags, this gulag processed nearly one million people imprisoned and sent far from home for crimes that were either real or imagined. Gulags were common on the Kazakh steppe as there was little need for walls or prevention of escape – prisoners couldn’t escape because there was simply nowhere to escape to.

We will continue on to the Spassk Gulag Memorial, a cemetery-like ensemble of stones dedicated by various nations to victims of the Kazakh gulag system before returning to Karaganda.

In Karaganda we will have some free time to grab some lunch before boarding a train for a short ride to the capital of Kazakhstan Nur-Sultan. We will arrive in Nur-Sultan in the evening and transfer to the hotel.

Today we will explore the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan. We will begin with a continuation of yesterdays theme, by visiting Alzhir. Alzhir is a former Stalinist prison camp for the wives and children of men accused of betraying the Soviet state, which is now a memorial and museum.

Next, we will visit Nur-Sultan’s impressive Independence Square, Kazakh Eli Monument and view the Kazakh University of the arts before a walk around Nur-Sultan’s historic old town.

After some free time to grab some lunch we will ascend Nur-Sultan’s most iconic monument, Bayterek Tower for an amazing view of the city.

The remainder of the day will be yours to explore Nur-Sultan.

This morning is yours to have your own adventures in Nur-Sultan.

In the mid-afternoon we will board the overnight train to Semey in the east of Kazakhstan.

On arrival at Semey we will start to explore a site which has suffered more nuclear tests than any other place in history. Today we will explore the history of the soviet nuclear weapons program at the Semipalatinsk Polygon, including underground tests, the industrial use of nuclear charges, parallels with the USA and visit the artificial ‘atomic lake’.

We will visit the bunker from which nuclear tests were conducted and after lunch visit the National Nuclear Centre of Kazakhstan. We will also pay a visit to a silo which once contained an underground laboratory, visit the destroyed missile launchers and command point.

This morning we will explore the history of the early Soviet nuclear program from 1943-1962. We will visit the nuclear test field and Kurchatov city, named after Soviet nuclear physicist Igor Kurchatov, the town once supplied workers for the Semipalatinsk test site.

We will visit the abandoned town of Chagan, including the airbase for heavy bombers and the anti-missile battalion. Visiting Chagan gives us an insight into the history of this place through the eyes of private citizens, workers and officials.

In the afternoon we will transfer back to Semey for some free time to grab some lunch, before boarding the overnight train which will take us to Russia.

Please note that like Baikonur a visit to the Semipalatinsk Polygon and associated sites is at the sole discretion of the Russian government. At the time this itinerary was put together no special permission was required; however, this could change at any time. While we will endeavour to provide the itinerary exactly as described, Inverted Atlas reserves the right to change this part of the itinerary at its absolute discretion.

We will arrive in Novosibirsk in the morning and transfer to a local café to quickly grab some breakfast.

Then we will spend the remainder of the morning visiting the Historical Architecture Museum and Novosibirsk History Museum. Novosibirsk, literally meaning ‘new Siberia’ is the largest city in its ‘Oblast’ or state. Siberia is well known as a place of freezing cold and exile, especially for learned men and women whom Stalin considered a threat. As people of intelligence were sent to Siberia en masse, cities in Siberia are adorned with beautiful architecture and are home to amazing feats of science and industry.

After lunch in a local restaurant, we will take a short tour of the major sites of Novosibirsk including the stunning Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Lenina Square and the Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Today we are in for a real treat as we journey outside of Novosibirsk to the only science town in the world where all branches of science are represented, Akademgorodok. Sometimes called the ‘Scientific Vatican’ it was established in 1957 at the height of the Cold War by Nikita Khrushchev and Soviet mathematician Mikhail Lavrentyev as a special town for scientific research.

We will take a walk down Lavrentyev Prospekt, mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most scientific street, see the Novosibirsk State University and have some time to view and maybe visit some of the other academies in the area.

After some free time to grab some lunch, we will visit the Soviet Style Apartment Museum. The museum is located in a 1960’s condominium and represents how life started out in the first science town in the USSR. The museum if often skipped by tourists (the few Novosibirsk has) and it is likely we will have it to ourselves.

Our next stop will be the Open-Air Railway Museum for a look at some old engines and carriages that once travelled on the Trans-Siberian Railway on which we are now travelling. Among the collection you will find a prison carriage that was used in transporting people to the gulags and an ambulance carriage in which surgery was once carried out on the tracks.

At the end of the day, we will stop at the Novosibirsk Planetarium to observe the Foucault Tower. The tower houses the Foucault Pendulum which is used to demonstrate the daily rotation of the Earth on its axis. After we have witnessed this demonstration, we will return to the hotel.

This morning is free for you to explore Novosibirsk on your own. You may wish to go back to the Planetarium to see other exhibits on offer, take a walk down by the Ob River or just use this time to relax in a local coffee shop.

In the late afternoon we will walk to the station to board the Trans-Siberian Railway to Yekaterinburg.

The train will arrive in Yekaterinburg in the afternoon, and we will transfer to the hotel to check in and freshen up. Later we will head out to see some of the sights of the city. We will start with a walk through the Yekaterinburg historical garden and view the city dam. We will finish with a visit to one of Yekaterinburg’s star attractions, the Church on the Blood, a beautiful church with a grisly history. The church is built on the site of Ipatiev House, which Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War. The church commemorates Romanov Sainthood.

Today we spend a full day exploring beautiful Yekaterinburg. Our first stop today is the border between Europe and Asia, the Ural Mountains which begin just outside the city, form a natural border between the two continents. The border sign allows travellers to stand with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia.

Next, we will visit the open-air Museum of Arms. The museum is home to around 350 military vehicles, artillery and rocket launch systems. It has the largest military collection of tanks, aircraft, submarines, cars and trucks, some of which are used in Russia’s Victory Day parade, which celebrates Russian triumph over the Nazi forces during WWII.

Continuing on, we will make a stop at the Ganina Yama Monastery and Porosenkov log. Ganina Yama, was the site of the ‘Four brothers mine’, in which in the pre-dawn hours of 17th July 1918, after the execution of the Romanov family the Bolsheviks secretly transported the bodies and cast them into the depths of the mine. A week later the White Army drove the Bolsheviks from the area and attempted to ascertain the fate of the royal family, however the Bolsheviks had already relocated the bodies to Porosenkov log, a nearby ravine where the bodies were not discovered until 1970.

After some free time to grab a quick lunch, we will make a stop at Visotsky Business Centre lookout to get a panoramic view of the city, followed by a stops at some of Yekaterinburg’s other sites, including, the Monument to the Invisible Man, Novotikhvinksy Convent and the Monument to the Computer Keyboard. We will also make a stop for shopping and browsing at the local flea market.

In the evening, we will transfer to a Russian restaurant for a masterclass in Pelmeni making. Learn how to cook Russian dumplings and then savour the fruits of your labour. After dinner we will transfer a bar, located within a haunted mansion (our favourite kind) to try local drinks and snacks. Make sure you try the local craft beer and cherry liqueur!

This morning is free for you to explore Yekaterinburg on your own.

In the afternoon we will re-board the train for our journey onto the city of Perm, arriving in the evening.

On arrival we will check on to our hotel and then transfer to a restaurant for dinner.

In the morning we will travel to the village of Kuchino outside of Perm, home to the Perm-36 gulag. The gulag is now the Museum of the History of Political Repression and is the only surviving example of a gulag labour camp in Russia.

In the afternoon we will travel back to Perm for a short tour of this fascinating city, followed by some free time for dinner.

This evening we will board to overnight train which will take us to the charming city of Nizhny Novgorod.

We will arrive in the pretty city of Nizhney Novgorod in the early morning and transfer to a local café for a quick breakfast. We will then have a walk around the Nizhney Novgorod Kremlin. It is a common misconception that the only Kremlin in Russia is the one in Moscow, however many cities have a central ‘kremlin’ or fortress which is often the oldest part of the city. The Nizhney Novgorod Kremlin dates back to 1374 and was originally made of wood, it was later replaced by stone buildings and walls around 1500.

After some free time for lunch, we will visit the interesting Museum of GAZ. Standing for Gorkovsky Automobile Zavod, GAZ is a Russian car manufacturer that originated in Nizhney Novgorod and in its early history partnered with the Ford Motor Company. This interesting museum displays examples of the company’s cars over time and gives an interesting insight into Russian car manufacture.

After our visit to the museum, we will check in to our hotel, in the evening we will head down to the water for a sunset cruise on the Volga River followed by dinner in one of Nizhney Novgorod’s traditional restaurants.

This morning is yours to explore Nizhney Novgorod on your own.

In the afternoon we will reboard the train for our short journey to Moscow arriving in the late afternoon.

On arrival we will check in to our hotel and then catch the Moscow Metro to Red Square for sunset

This morning we head to Moscow’s Star City to visit the Museum of Rocket and Space Corporation “Energia”. In the museum you will find a memorial room dedicated to the father of Russian space travel, S.P Korolev, the descent module of Yuri Gagarin, the Voskhod-2 multi-manned spacecraft, from which Alexi Leonov performed the first space walk and a mock up of the Soyuz-Apollo first international orbital complex.

After our visit to the museum the remainder of the day will be yours to explore Moscow.

Featured Optional experience – Cosmonaut Training

Depending on local conditions at the time this trip departs, there may be the opportunity for hardcore fans of space travel to participate in cosmonaut training at Star City. Such training includes, but is not limited to, centrifuge training, zero G simulation, Soksol Spacesuit training and Neutral buoyancy training. Please contact us directly if you wish to participate in any of these activities, please note they are PRICY, but obviously an experience that can not be found anywhere else on the planet. All activities are at the sole discretion of the Russian space agency, require advance booking and medical check to participate.

This morning we will continue to explore Moscow, beginning at the former KGB head quarters at Lubyanka which we will view from the street, before moving on to Bunker 42, a genuine Soviet Cold War shelter. Once a secret military bunker, bunker 42 is now an exhibition complex with an area of 7000 square metres and located 65 metres below ground.

Our next stop will be the Museum of the Patriotic War of 1912, which is located just outside Red Square. The museum displays weapons, uniforms and artworks commemorating the Napoleonic invasion of Russia of which the Cossacks played a sizable part in Russia’s defence.

Continuing into Red Square we will have a short break for lunch at the GUM centre, the former state department store at an old Soviet style cafeteria restaurant.

After lunch we will head to the Museum of Cosmonautics for an overview of the Russian space program since its inception.

We begin our day with a visit to Moscow’s epic Kremlin. Explore the Cathedral of the Assumption where Russian emperors were crowned and the nearby Cathedral of the Archangel where they were laid to rest. See the largest bell that never rang and the largest cannon that never fired, as well as the beautiful gardens, and government buildings and fixtures from a distance.

After our visit to the heart of Moscow, we will have some free time around Red Square for lunch, before jumping on the Moscow Metro with for a guided tour of some of Moscow’s most elaborate stations. Part of Stalin’s propaganda machine, claiming the people would ‘travel in palaces’, the stations of the metro are elaborately decorated with columns, mosaic, fresco and even stained glass – yes that’s right, stained glass successfully used underground. The metro is by far the best way to get around Moscow and the opulence of the stations is in stark contrast to the usual Soviet blocky, functional architecture, trust us it has to be seen to be believed! We will finish our metro tour at Gorky Park, Moscow’s premier green space and have some free time to relax.

Akin to Central Park in New York, Gorky Park contains beautiful gardens, fountains, restaurants, and places set out for people to relax and enjoy, it is a true oasis within the busy streets of the city.

Featured Optional experience – Ballet performance at the State Kremlin Palace

No trip to Russia is complete with out a trip to see the ballet and what better place to see the ballet (especially on this trip) than the State Kremlin Palace within the walls of the Kremlin. The palace was built on the initiative of Nikita Kruschev as a modern arena for communist part meetings, the palace has over 800 rooms and is dominated by a central auditorium in which ballets are performed. This experience is dependent on performance dates and times which are released closer to the date of travel. As such it could take place on any night the trip is in Moscow or if there is no performance scheduled, not at all.

Today is a free day to explore Moscow on your own. You may wish to take your newly found knowledge of the Moscow Metro and head out to explore some of Moscow’s many sights – you could spend a lifetime exploring in this city so be sure to ask your trip leader for recommendations.

This evening we will have a special dinner in a traditional restaurant close to the hotel.

This morning we will have a few hours free in Moscow before transferring to the airport for our flight to Kaliningrad. Located beneath Lithuania, Kaliningrad is not accessible overland from Russia with out crossing an international border. Kaliningrad is Russia’s only ice-free port and is headquarters of the Baltic Fleet and Russian Navy.

On arrival we will visit Victory Square and the relatively new Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which was begun in 1995. The lower temple is one of military glory and is dedicated to the memory of Russian soldiers who died in the Seven Years War, Napoleonic Wars and World Wars I & II.

Our final stop before checking in to the hotel will be the Kaliningrad Amber Museum. Amber is one of the chief stones found in the Baltic region (also very popular in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) and the museum houses artworks made from the stone.

Our first stop this morning is the Museum of the World Ocean. Located inside a giant glass ball the museum contains a research centre as well as boats, submarines, and seaplanes to explore.

Next, we will be shown around an ex-Soviet Nuclear Submarine by an ex-crew member. Gain a real insight into life onboard and in the Russian defence force, with the ability to ask our special guide any questions about their time in Soviet Navy.

Finally, we will have a short walk-through Kaliningrad’s old fishing village with some free time to grab some lunch. The afternoon is free for you to explore Kaliningrad on your own.

We will have a few free hours in Kaliningrad this morning before transferring to the airport for our flight to the northern city Murmansk on the Barents Sea. Murmansk is the largest city north of the Arctic Circle and was a popular city during the Cold War.

On arrival in Murmansk, we will check in to our hotel.

This morning we will climb aboard ‘Ice Breaker Lenin’ for a look at a nuclear-powered Soviet ice breaker ship. Launched in 1957, Lenin was the world’s first nuclear-powered surface ship and the first nuclear powered civilian vessel. Lenin entered operation in 1959 and from 1960 to 1965 covered over 157 000km clearing sea routes through the ice for cargo ships.

After we disembark from the icebreaker the remainder of the day will be free for you to explore Murmansk.

This morning we journey outside of Murmansk to visit a husky farm to learn all about these affectionate and charming dogs – and of course get to play with them! Siberian Husky’s are inseparably linked to long polar days, snow covered landscapes and strong friendship with their humans.

After lunch at the Huskey Farm, we will travel to Saami Village. We will meet the people of the village and their reindeer which are so important to their way of life. We will hear local stories and see how people live in this northern village in the Arctic.

After breakfast we will transfer to the train station for our overnight train journey to St Petersburg. Watch the scenery of this very different part of the country sail by from the comfort of your cabin, play some cards with your travel companions, update your journal or chat with the locals.

The train will arrive in St Petersburg in the mid-morning, and we will head straight out to the Gulf of Finland to visit the historic Fort Konstantin and the old port area of Kronstadt. Founded in the 18th century by Peter the Great, this area became an important centre for commerce and later the maritime defence for the Russian capital at the time.

Next, we will head into St Petersburg to a lively delicatessen and coffee shop where we will stop for a drink and a maybe a decadent bite to eat.

After we will visit the jewel in St Petersburg’s crown, the Church on Spilled Blood. This church is spectacular inside and out, the interior is made up of colourful mosaics made with the tiniest of tiles. Like almost everything else in Russia it has a bit of a grisly history, it is built on the site of the assassination of Emperor Alexander II in March 1881. During the Soviet era the church was closed (thankfully not demolished as some were) and used as a vegetable store house, giving it the local moniker ‘Church on Spilled Potatoes’. After extensive restoration the church is now open to the public and is a sight not to be missed no matter how many times you return to St Petersburg.

The remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore St Petersburg on your own.

We will re-group this evening for a special dinner to farewell your travel companions and trip leader and reflect on this one-of-a-kind adventure.

Your adventure through Kazakhstan and Russia comes to and end after breakfast this morning.

Optional Experience: Kayak the canals of St Petersburg

Cossacks, Cold War & Cosmonauts - An adventure into Dark Tourism
Trip Map – Cossacks, Cold War & Cosmonauts


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.

Single supplement

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.

Itinerary disclaimer

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.

Age requirements

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.

Travel insurance

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.

You might also like these trips