Post-soviet wastelands, buddhist temples, lotus fields, red canyons and disappearing waters between Europe and Asia !! ? This adventurous tour will introduce you to the very best of the region and its people, and inform you of the rich history and geopolitical circumstances surrounding its existence.
Regular monthly departures: this tour is offered regularly once a month. Please contact us for exact departure dates. If you are travelling with friends and there are 5 or more of you, you can set your own dates and we will organise a tour just for you without charging any additional fee. If you are travelling solo or with less than 4 companions we will organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences
- Travel Provider Information
- Book with a 50% deposit. Cancellation deadline is 30 days prior to the tour date and a 10% charge will apply. After that, a 50% charge will apply. All charges apply to the total value of the tour.
- Travel Provider Terms and Conditions
- Please familiarize with the Travel Provider's booking terms and conditions by clicking on "Download all information in a PDF document" on this page
- Mangystau Province
DAY 1 - Southern Russia: Krasnodar
In the morning you will meet your tour guide in the lobby of the designated hotel (exact hotel address and meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email; private airport pickup and shuttle service available for a small additional fee).
Krasnodar walking tour: Monument to Catherine the Great, Cossacks Memorial, Red Street, St. George's Church, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and plenty of Soviet concrete architecture.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Krasnodar.
DAY 2 - Kalmykia: Elista
We will leave Krasnodar early in the morning for the 8-hour-long journey to the Republic of Kalmykia, a oddly fascinating and melancholically beautiful autonomous region in Southern Russia inhabited by friendly Buddhist mongolic people.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the long haul in some pretty traditional Southern Russian villages such as Dmitriyevskoye and Takhta.
A quick lunch on the road and finally we will reach Elista, the surreal and surprisingly lively capital of Kalmykia.
Elista evening stroll: Lenin Statue, Buddhist Stupas, Great Tibetan Temple.
Dinner and overnight in Elista.
DAY 3 - Kalmykia: Black Lands National Park and Saiga Safari
In the morning we will continue our tour of Elista's main sights, do some shopping around the exotic central bazaar and pay a visit to the surreal Chess City in the outskirts of town.
We'll then drive towards the gates of the Black Lands National Park, a unique grassland reserve where you'll be able to admire the saiga antelope
We'll then visit the tiny Kalmyk villages surrounding the park and we'll be able to learn more about Kalmy culture and nomadic traditions.
Lunch, dinner and overnight with a local Kalmyk family.
DAY 4 - Southern Russia: Astrakhan
In the morning we'll drive to Lagan, a large Kalmyk town located in the colorful wetlands near the shores of the Caspian Sea dubbed by the local as the Venice of the Steppes for the many navigable canals crisscrossing the surrounding area.
After lunch we'll then travel further north to Astrakhan, the biggest Russian city on the Caspian Sea.
Dinner and overnight in Astrakhan.
DAY 5 - Southern Russia: Volga Delta
Astrakhan walking tour: Kremlin, Fish Market, City Embankment, Cathedral of the Assumption, Music Fountain, Lenin Square.
Visit to the Volga Delta National Park to enjoy a romantic boat trip surrounded by a wild landscape of lotus flowers, water lilies and flocks of migratory birds.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Astrakhan.
DAY 6 - Kazakhstan: Aktau
Morning flight to Aktau, Kazakhstan, one of the most isolated cities in the whole former Soviet Union.
Aktau walking tour: WWII Memorial, Caspian Promenade, Monumental Cemetery, Soviet Apartment Blocks and Brave New World Architectonic Wonders.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Aktau.
DAY 7 - Kazakhstan: Mangystau
In the morning we will set onto a 4x4 adventure across the barren badlands of Mangystau Plateau.
We'll tour the Western part of the plateau and its many natural sights before eventually reaching the underground mosque-cum-mausoleum of Beket-Ata, where we'll enjoy a traditional Kazakh lunch and observe the mystic rituals of pious pilgrims.
Dinner and overnight in Aktau.
DAY 8 - Kazakhstan: Fort Shevchenko and the Caspian Shores
We'll spend the day touring the many wonders scattered along the Caspian shoreline.
First we'll stop at the Koshkar-Ata necropolis, a holy muslim graveyard with impressive monumental tombs and pretty little mausoleums dating back to pre-Soviet times.
We'll then continue our journey heading to Aqshuqyr, a pleasant seaside village, where we'll have the chance to plunge in the fresh waters of the Caspian Sea.
After a traditional seafood lunch near the beach we'll drive north towards Fort Shevchenko, a Tsarist and later Soviet military-base town built on the Western tip of desertic peninsula stretching out into the Caspian Sea.
For desolation lovers and melancholic souls we'll also pay a visit to the remote port town of Bautino and the nearby abandoned village of Kanga, before eventually heading back to Aktau.
Dinner and overnight in Aktau.
DAY 9 - Kazakhstan: Beyneu
After a lazy morning in Aktau we'll set off on a desert ride towards Beyneu, a Soviet-planned town and a major junction along the remote railway connecting Kazakhstan to Karakalpakstan.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the long haul in the end-of-the-world Kazakh villages of Shetpe and Say-Otes.
Dinner and overnight in Beyneu.
DAY 10 - Karakalpakstan: Moynaq
We will leave Beyneu early in the morning for the 9-hour-long journey to Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan internationally known for the Aral Sea disaster.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet, random landscape pictures and border crossing formalities we'll break the long haul in traditional Karakalpak villages along the route such as Jasliq and Kungrad before finally reaching Moynaq, a former fishing town now surrounded by the eerily evocative desert that used to be the bottom of the Aral Sea.
Dinner and overnight in Moynaq.
DAY 11 - Karakalpakstan: Aral Sea
After an early morning walking tour through Moynaq (Ship Graveyard, Former Fish Factory, Aral Sands, School, Museum, Memorial, Cultural Centre) we'll set off on a 4x4 adventure across the Ustyurt Plateau heading north towards the actual shores of the constantly retreating Aral Sea.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet, random landscape pictures we'll break the bumpy ride stopping at isolated Karakalpak hamlets that seem to have come straight out of a Mad Max movie.
Under good weather conditions (and if time permits) we might also be able to visit the lost city of a Kantubek, an abandoned Soviet town built on Aral's biggest island (now just a hill in the desert).
Once we reach the shores of the Aral we'll set up a camp and prepare for a night full of stars, hundreds of kilometres from any form of civilization; the brave ones might also to take a plunge in the extremely salty waters of the Sea.
Dinner and overnight on the shores of the Aral Sea.
DAY 12 - Karakalpakstan: Ustyurt Plateau and Nukus
Early wake-up call and long scenic drive across the Ustyurt Plateau towards Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan.
Food and photography stops along the way.
In the afternoon we will admire the surprisingly rich Savitsky Collection of Renegade Soviet Art in the Karakalpak State Museum.
Nukus evening stroll: Soviet architecture and Karakalpak street culture.
Dinner and overnight in Nukus.
DAY 13 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Karakalpak-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: we will arrange transfer to Nukus International Airport for your flight back home.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: we will arrange transport to the local train/bus station.
End of the tour.
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euro/night), private transport in the region, one-way flight from Astrakhan (RU) to Aktau (KZ), entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights and any other flight not explicitly included in the tour price and itinerary, meals, drinks and tips, transport to and from the airport of arrival/departure (35 euros/ride), visas if required, entrance fees to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. Our motto is flexibility. It is also possible to make the tour the other way around, starting from Nukus and finishing in Krasnodar, if a Caucasus extension is planned.
PLEASE NOTE: It’s advisable to arrive in Krasnodar one day before the actual tour begins. You should notice, however, that you’ll have to take care of your accommodation for any day and night preceding the actual start date of the tour. Without any additional charge we will readily and gladly reserve a room for you at our hotel of choice and you’ll be able to pay for it by cash or credit card once you check-in. If your flight lands on the same day as the tour begins and you prefer to rest a bit before going out sightseeing, you will then meet your tour guide and the rest of the group at the designated hotel in the late afternoon.
Krasnodar has been chosen as the starting point of this route because the local airport is one of the busiest in the region and definitely the easiest and cheapest one to reach from Europe / North America. Alternatively you can also choose to land in Rostov-on-Don, Volgograd or Mineralnye Vody and we'll then take care of your transfer to Elista for an additional fee of 50 euros. Please contact us to learn more about that.
Airport pickup/transfer in Krasnodar and Nukus is available for just 35 euros per ride.