Join Young Pioneer Tours for the next part of the Summer Soviet Adventure, when we embark on a trip to one of the most remote regions on earth, and a place embedded in Soviet folklore.
Your Soviet Adventure begins in Moscow where we board the night flight to Magadan. There we are taken to the city via the legendary ‘Road of Bones’, and its various monuments. You then tour the city learning about the Soviet Gulag history in its detailed museums before we step it up a notch and head down to the Dniprovsky Mine and Gulag for two days of exploration, with us even camping there.
In Belarus, we’ll ride tanks, visit the KGB Building and see where the 1st Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Liberal Party met, but there’s more to Belarus than just it’s spectacular Soviet history which has been so well preserved. We’ll also hang out on a graffiti street, have a tasting at a brewery and ride a children’s railway. August is buzzing in Belarus, with locals enjoying the short, but beautiful summer, and we’ll get to really soak in that atmosphere when we spend a day at one of their favourite holiday spots outside of Minsk.
August is rife with festivals and events, which of course aren’t planned very far in advance, but we’ll have our ears to the ground to see what we can go to. A couple we’ve got our eyes on are Vulitsa Brazil, a festival where Brazilian/Belarusian graffiti artists paint new murals on October Street and around the city, and the other is A-fest organised by Alivaria Brewery.
Group meet at 18.30 at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport before boarding the 21:15 flight to Magadan. The flight takes 8 hours and arrives at 12:45pm the following day.
Tuesday 14th August
We are met at the airport by our local guides and driver for the 50km trip into Magadan, the trip should take about an hour and takes us through the ‘Road of Bones’ which was built by forced labour. We stop at various places on the way.
On arrival, we check into the 3 star VM-Central Hotel, this is a masterpiece of a hotel and a must for Soviet watchers.
Following lunch, we take a city tour of Magadan with the main site being the visit to the ‘Mask of Sorrow’ – a monument to the memory of victims of political repression.
Overnight at VM-Central Hotel.
Wednesday 15th August
We start the day nice and early with a trip to the Regional History Museum and its 5 halls of the Gulag and Chief Directorate of Camps.
Visit to the Geological Museum which documents the gold discovered in the region (a principal reason for the forced labour).
Memorial museum of Vadim Kozin – In 1944, shortly before the birthday of Comrade Stalin the KGB chief Beria called him up and asked why his songs didn’t involve Stalin. Kozin famously replied that songs about Stalin were not suited for tenor voices. In late 1944, Kozin was sentenced to five years in jail as part of the repression campaign against prominent Soviet performers and was sent to the Magadan Gulag.
It’s not a Soviet trip unless you see a big statue of Lenin, so we head for sunset selfies with the original Bolshevik.
Dinner and drinks in Magadan.
Overnight at VM-Central Hotel.
Thursday 16th August
The big reason for coming here! We get up early for the long drive to Dniprovsky Mine – the Soviet Prison camp operated between 1941 and 1954. Much of the infrastructure used when it was a gulag including the watchtowers, huts and barbed wire fences are still intact.
We spend most of the day here exploring.
Depending on the situation we will visit a number of ghost villages either before, or after our trip to the mine.
At night, we camp out in the countryside near the mine including a BBQ and obligatory vodka.
Friday 17th August
After putting our tents away, we head for another day of exploring this massive mine complex ably led by our expert local guides.
Lunch in the countryside.
We take the leisurely drive back to Magadan stopping on the way for various picture opportunities and rest stops.
On arrival back in Magadan, we check back into VM-Central Hotel.
Overnight in Magadan.
Saturday 18th August
We get up and nice and early for the drive to the sea of Okhotsk on the east coast of the Russian Federation. This is an extremely scenic drive with us taking the opportunities to stop for pictures where possible.
Legal fishing here starts on June 20th, so we will take the opportunity for a day of sea fishing (trying to catch Salmon and Sockeye), should we fail to catch anything our local professionals will pick up the slack.
BBQ lunch by the sea cooked on a bonfire.
We take the slow drive back to Magadan.
Overnight in VM-Central Hotel.
Sunday 19th August
Up early for a tour to the Ollu Village site.
Tour Nyukli and surrounding area, which is one of the must-see places in Magadan with views of the bay, and the monument to the Cazegradsky-Biblin expedition.
We return to Magadan for lunch.
After lunch, we head to the Azman hills with rare natural phenomena. Until July there is even still snow here.
At night, we head out for our last group dinner (their may be Borsch involved).
Although Magadan might not be renowned for its thriving nightlife, we still make the most of our last night by heading to the Okean Bar for a YPT style last night party (where vodka is most probably involved).
Overnight in VM-Central Hotel.
Monday 20th August
Free morning for last minute shopping, walking or relaxation.
We transfer to the airport for the 15.30 flight back to Moscow arriving back at 15.00 due to the time difference.
Day 1 Tuesday 21st August
Arrive in Minsk.
Our first destination today will be the Azgur Museum. This huge room used to be the workshop of Soviet sculptor Zair Azgur, and there are still hundreds of different sizes busts of Soviet leaders staring down at you as you walk around.
After lunch we’ll visit the Alivaria Brewery and Museum, where you’ll have the opportunity to taste their finest brews.
Beginning at Lenin Square, take a Soviet walking tour of the centre of Minsk, strolling the length of Independence Avenue past the KGB building and many other iconic Soviet landmarks.
Visit Tsentralny, a famous local drink-and-have-a-bite place where you can buy supplies for the train trip the following day, and experience the hustle and bustle of one of Minsk’s most popular spots.
Tonight we’ll visit the iconic Rakovsky Brovar, a local institution.
Overnight at Hotel Belarus.
Day 2 Wednesday 22nd August
Breakfast at Hotel Belarus (included).
Leave first thing in the morning to catch the train to Brest.
On arrival in Brest we’ll have take a walking tour of the quaint, very European-feeling old town. After passing through Lenin Square, we’ll meander down the Alley of Lights, a street lined with unique lanterns all designed by local artists, and every one of which is totally unique, from a nose wearing a suit, to a shoe-polisher whose chair you can sit on, to a horse and carriage. You can even put your foot in a giant boot!
After exploring the cobble-stoned, cafe-lined streets, we’ll finish the tour with the daily lighting of the lamps – a famous Brest tradition.
For dinner we have the option of Tractir, a local restaurant famous for authentic Belarusian cuisine and homemade flavoured vodkas. The horse-radish one will definitely put hairs on your chest!
After dinner we’ll get a taste of Brest’s wild nightlife at Coyote Bar. Yes, you got it, a tribute to the movie Coyote Ugly!
Overnight at Hotel Bug, a delightful little hotel covered in Soviet art and murals.
Day 3 Thursday 23rd August
Begin the day with breakfast at one of Brest’s many cafes.
Our first stop will be at the Brest Fortress, or Hero Fortress as it is often known.
A 19th Century Russian Fortress, this spectacular example of Soviet architecture is now a war memorial commemorating the first battles of WWII featuring two of the most amazing Soviet monuments in the former USSR.
The next stop will be at the train museum, an open-air museum featuring locomotives from throughout the 20th
Free time in the centre of town for lunch.
After lunch you can continue your free time, browsing the many shops and cafes, or simply taking in the vibe of the town.
Optional activity: visit the Confiscated Items Museum, a small museum full of religious icons that have been confiscated at border points, with an interesting display about the nearby Polish land border crossing.
Head to the train station in the evening to catch the night train back to Minsk.
Day 4 Friday 24th August
Arriving in Minsk early in the morning, we’ll stop for breakfast at a cafe near the train station.
Leaving Minsk we’ll visit Nesvizh Castle.
Lunch in Nesvizh.
Go as a group to the Jewish cemetery in Mir.
Free time to explore Mir Castle (presenting options of audio guide etc.) and also town.
Return to Minsk and have free time in the evening.
Overnight at Hotel Belarus.
Day 5 Saturday 25th August
Breakfast at the hotel (included).
Leaving Minsk again, we will visit Belaz, a factory which produces industrial vehicles. Here you’ll see with your own eyes how the world’s biggest dump trucks are assembled, and you’ll even have the opportunity to ride one!
Stop at a supermarket to buy supplies for the rest of the day. There are plenty of barbeque spots, but no shops at our final destination.
Arrive in Plescenitsy and experience summer life like a local, relaxing lakeside for the rest of the day, surrounded by forest.
Free time in the afternoon and evening, during which you might like to use the sauna, or play some volleyball or badminton. You could also take a boat out on the lake, or just sit in a gazebo and find some locals to drink vodka with.
Day 6 Sunday 26th August
Leave Plescenitsy in the morning and start driving back towards Minsk.
Visit Khatyn, a breathtaking complex of monuments devoted to the village of the same name which used to inhabit the space, but of which all 156 inhabitants were massacred in 1943.
In the afternoon we’ll visit Stalin Line, a huge open air museum of military technics, including tanks, rockets, artillery, cars, helicopters, aircrafts, bunkers, and much more.
And if you behave, you might even get to shoot a Kalashnikov (AK 47) and ride atop a tank. (Just kidding, you don’t need to behave to get to do this!)
Dinner in the Old Town before a night of debauchery at the Moulin Rouge bar – Minsk’s unique and indescribable mixture between a brothel, a shisha bar, and a professional dance show.
Overnight in Minsk.
Day 7 Monday 27th August
Breakfast at the hotel (included).
Start the day with a trip to the new WWII Museum, an important part of any trip to Belarus.
Visit October Street where there are a couple of options for lunch.
After lunch, take a walk down October Street; an incredible insight into Minsk’s modern hipster scene and the gentrification of the city, this is a street in an industrial area where the brick factory walls are covered in graffiti and little hipster cafes are popping up between old factories.
During our tour of October Street, we’ll visit the Y museum, a small contemporary art museum run by local artists.
We’ll continue with a driving tour of Minsk, including visits to the Former Residence of Lee Harvey Oswald, the House of the 1st Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Liberal Party, and the famous KGB Building.
You won’t miss the Belarus National Library, a spectacular and bizarre building that resembles a futuristic cosmo station, and of course we’ll make a trip to the huge observation deck on the top floor.
Take a ride on the Children’s Railway. It’s not a miniature railway like you might think of with that name, but instead it’s a fully functioning, yet small, railway run completely by children.
•Moscow – Magadan – Moscow
•All guide and entrance fees
•5 nights hotel accommodation
•1 nights camping
•Breakfast throughout the trip
Compulsory Health Insurance
Transport according to the itinerary
Accommodation in 3 start hotels in double/twin share rooms (except on the sleeper train which is four per room)
YPT guide and local English speaking guide during the tour
Breakfast on Days 2, 5, 7 & 8
Shooting and tank riding at Stalin Line
•Russian Visa invitation letter
•Tips and gratuities
Letter of Invitation and Visa (not all nationalities need this, but if you do we can provide it for you, €30-50 depending on your nationality)
Transport to and from Minsk at the beginning and end of the tour
Meals other than those stipulated
Single supplement (EUR 295)
Souvenirs or any other personal expenses
Tips for guides and drivers
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.