Russia - 13 days
Arctic Yakutia
Prices from £5,299

Siberia covers a vast amount of the earth’s surface, stretching across nine different time zones all the way to the Pacific Ocean – yet remains something of an enigma, little visited other than by those who cross it on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Hidden within this land lie a huge amount of cultural and scenic treasures, isolated ethnic groups and forgotten towns, more Asian than Russian. This tour focuses on the Arctic regions of Yakutia, the largest of the republics making up the Russian Federation. With a land area almost the size of India but with a population of only 900,000, Yakutia is one of the only places in the world with enormous tracts of what can truly be called wilderness. This land of extremes is also the coldest inhabited part of the world: in summer, temperatures can hit 40°C, whereas in winter, temperatures in the -70s have been officially registered, and unofficially in the -80s. We explore a mammoth graveyard, where the remains of these ancient creatures as well as woolly rhinos and sabre tooth tigers are still easily found, and meet Yakut horse herders following the old ways of their ancestors, masters of this land before the Russians arrived. Staying with local families we learn about the unique customs that still thrive here, and discover a unique landscape of ‘kisilyakhs’, imposing rock pillars jutting from the land. At Kestyor we delve into more recent history as we visit an abandoned gulag, where thousands of Soviet prisoners eked out a harsh existence, see underground permafrost tunnels, and sail on the mighty Lena River to see the incredible Lena Pillars, one of Siberia’s most breathtaking sights. Travelling through remote landscapes, sailing on rivers, and meeting local people along the way, this is a surprising and fascinating journey to a place that mass tourism has barely even heard about, let alone discovered. Not a conventional trip by any means, this tour allows a unique insight into a Russia that couldn’t be more different from Moscow and St Petersburg.