This trip is an epic journey traversing 3 national and through areas that area rarely visited by tourists. In particular this trip exposes the outer reaches of rural Mongolia and the vast taiga of Siberia, as well as the grandness of the huge cities of Beijing, Moscow and St Petersburg.
We provide all travellers with reusable bags in order to avoid waste and encourage use of “tea flasks” for drinking water (or tea, like the locals do!) so as not to purchase multiple plastic bottles.
There are a lot of small things that we can do to make a difference for the region we travel through. While we are at Lake Baikal, the deepest fresh water lake in the world, we’ll go and pick up the garbage along the shore of the lake to help protect this amazingly beautiful nature. While on the train, the train attendant can provide glass cups (coming with beautiful Russian style cup holder, a great souvenir) for you to drink tea and coffee so we can avoid using paper or plastic cups. In Mongolia, we should only leave our footprint behind when we visit Terelj National Park and stay overnight in the Ger camp by taking out our garbage.
There are quite a few trains that we’ll take on this journey, and it’s encouraged to share the snacks/food we buy so that we don’t create as much wasted packaging. And taking the trains is the best way to reduce our carbon footprint as well. In fact, when it comes to carbon emissions, as a company we operate a carbon neutral policy, offsetting all passenger travel ‘on the ground’ while on tour.
We include informal local language lessons to give our travellers a head start into understanding the culture and communicating with the people we meet along the way.
When taking trains we travel 2nd or 3rd class (kupe or platzkart) which is the way the majority of locals travel - this gives us maximum chance to meet and share stories, food, games and the journey with local travellers.
You are accompanied by a leader for the duration of the tour who will be able to help you understand more about the realities of living and travelling in Russia and help to facilitate your interaction with locals along the way. The local guides who take you on excursions and walking tours in each of the places we visit are passionate about their country and allow you to get a real insight into places significant to the history, culture and development of the nation.
During the journey there are numerous opportunities for local interaction and getting to know people. Wandering the back streets of Suzdal you'll no doubt encounter local residents tending their gardens, chickens and livestock or perhaps even come across monks, nuns and priests on their way to the many monasteries and churches in the town. Along the way you'll have the opportunity to support local industries by shopping for food at local farmers markets, buying direct from the babushka's who sell their home produce on the streets or visiting local handicraft stalls. Or talk to our hosts in our Guesthouse near Lake Baikal to learn about their life the far reaches in Siberia.
In Mongolia the itinerary takes in the beautiful Terelj National Park for 2 days in this grassland wilderness. The group stays in a traditional Ger camp, where they can experience the lives of nomadic families. The gers sleep up to 4 people with comfy beds and plenty of blankets. In the colder months you might want to stoke up the wood heater in the centre of the ger and you'll be toasty warm in no time!
Through staying in these local guesthouses/camps, we establish a true connection with the locals who welcome us into their life and it’s a very heart-warming experience to get to know these people and their community.
There are also some great projects that you have the option to support through our foundation – Nochlezhka, a local charity that helps the homeless people in St Petersburg, Lotus Children’s Home which provides housing and schooling for orphans from the city in Ulaanbaatar, or Huiling school in Beijing, a local NGO that supports the reintegration of mentally challenged people into society.