Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Best of Russia by luxury train, helicopter and river cruises

TWELVE nights covering 10,600km across Russia and into Mongolia in Gold Class berths aboard the luxury Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express is a highlight of an amazing 33-day escorted tour with Far Horizons from Vladivostok and Russia's far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, through Khabarovsk and the Siberian steppes to Moscow and St Petersburg departing 31st August 2013.

Guests will also fly by helicopter over steaming volcanoes, geysers, thermal lakes, herds of wild reindeer and ambling brown bears in Russia's so-called "Land of Fire and Ice," cruise regions of the Volga and Niva Rivers, see into the once-secret port of Vladivostok closed to all but Russian naval personnel and officials until recent times, venture by Zodiac boats into a nature reserve abounding with puffins, murres, cormorants, sea otters and harbour seals, and be entertained with stories, songs and dances by indigenous villagers in traditional reindeer-hide tents.

They'll dine on international cuisine aboard the Trans-Siberian Express, and by contrast share borscht (beetroot soup,) salmon, boiled potatoes and salads with local village families, learn something of the Russian language during lectures aboard the train, travel around the rim of Lake Baikal containing 20% of all the world's fresh water, see into the land once ruled by Genghis Khan and enjoy the best there is of the wonders of  Moscow and St Petersburg.

Numbers are limited to sixteen; price starts from $38,750pp twin-share including return airfares from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, best available hotels, Gold Class berth on luxury train, all transport, all meals, extensive sightseeing, local guides, Far Horizons escort throughout, taxes and gratuities. Details 1800 083 141, (02) 9955 0444 or

ARCHITECTURALLY the tour embraces classic wooden structures, the world's largest opera house, the church where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918, Kazan's Kremlin Fortress, Moscow's Red Square, a picture gallery featuring 160,000 works by Russian artists, a ring of ancient towns that are now "open air museums," grand Orthodox churches and monasteries and St Petersburg's spectacular Palace of Catherine the Great and Hermitage Museum.

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