The history of Magadan and the Kolyma region
is inherently dark. As a hub for gulags during the most terrifying years of
Soviet Rule, it became home to ‘’the Road of Bones’’, a highway stretching
thousands of miles and costing thousands of lives. Prisoners who died simply
buried on the spot and became part of the road. To this day, the area is still
littered with remote gulags, ghost towns and other Soviet relics left abandoned
during the collapse of the USSR.
On our Magadan Gulag tour, we link up with our
highly skilled team in the region to provide an action packed tour of this
incredible region. From camping in abandoned gulags miles away from
civilization to fishing in the rich waters of the Sea of Okhtosk, this will be
a tour to remember.
Before or after the tour, you can also take advantage of YPT’s extensive contacts in Russia and arrange additional travel and excursions across the biggest country on earth.
*Due to the logistics behind a tour of this endeavour, a minimum of four participants is required for this tour to happen as scheduled.*
Arrival into Magadan at your own leisure where our driver will meet you at the airport or the train station and begin the 50km trip into the city. (YPT can assist with booking flights or trains from Moscow – Magadan)
The route to Magadan from the airport is about an hours drive and takes you through the infamous ‘Road of Bones’. Built by forced labour from nearby Gulags, the road stretches for thousands of miles. Many prisoners died in it’s construction and were simply buried under it.
On arrival, check into a quintessential and comfortable Soviet hotel.
In the evening, you’ll meet your YPT guide and the rest of the group before heading out for some traditional Siberian fare and get to know each other.
Overnight in the hotel
Tuesday 27th July – Magadan
After a hearty Siberian breakfast, we meet our local guides and start the day nice and early with a trip to the Regional History Museum and its 5 halls dedicated to the region’s dark Gulag past.
We’ll then hike up to the Mask of Sorrow, a monument perched on a hill above Magadan in memory of the countless prisoners who suffered and died in the Gulag prison camps in the area during the Soviet Union.
After lunch, we’ll pay a visit to the Geological Museum which documents the gold discovered in the region. This was a principal reason for the forced labour in the area.
We’ll see the memorial museum of Vadim Kozin – In 1944, shortly before the birthday of Stalin, KGB chief Beria called Kozin 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.
Visit the Memory Node monument, dedicated to the Soviet troops from the area who perished during the Second World War.
Of course, it’s not a Soviet trip unless you see a giant statue of Vladimir Lenin, so we head for sunset selfies with the original Bolshevik to wind down our first action packed day!
We’ll head for dinner and drinks in Magadan.
Overnight in the hotel.
Wednesday 28th July – Magadan Gulag
Today we make an early start for the big reason for coming here! After grabbing our supplies, we begin an epic 320km road trip to the Dniprovsky tin mine – the infamous Soviet Prison camp which operated between 1941 and 1954 and was operated through the forced labour of political prisoners, criminals and Nazi POWs from across all of the Soviet Republics.
Normal cars do not fare well in this extreme terrain, so we will likely need to switch to the vehicle which is the workhorse of the Russian Far East, the Kamaz truck!
Due to it’s remote location, 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 the gigantic abandoned camp.
Depending on the situation we will visit a number of ghost villages either before, or after our trip to the mine as well as stop offs at Soviet monuments and weird relics on the side of the road.
At night, we camp out in the countryside near the mine. Your YPT guide and local team will prepare a BBQ and dish out some vodka for those who wish.
Embedded within our local team will be a true man of the Russian Taiga, in camouflage bearing a high powered rifle and a machete. He is there to keep us safe from any bears.
Overnight camping at the Gulag.
Thursday 29th July – Magadan
We’ll enjoy breakfast in the Gulag and take in the pristine nature.
After putting our tents away, we head for another day of exploring this massive mine complex ably led by our expert local guides. The gulag is one of the most preserved in Russia, so you will be able to find countless relics left strewn across the area.
Lunch in the Siberian wilderness, cooked by our local team, miles away from civilization.
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 our hotel and freshen up after our time in the wild.
Dinner and drinks in Magadan.
Overnight in the hotel.
Friday 30th July – Magadan
Today we make an early start as our local team drive us to the sea of Okhotsk on Russia’s East coast. This is an extremely scenic drive with us taking the opportunities to stop for pictures where possible.
Legal fishing here starts on June 20th, and the Sea of Okhotsk is one of the most biologically productive of the world’s seas with over 600 species found there. 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 Russian professionals will pick up the slack!
BBQ lunch by the sea, where our freshly caught fish can be cooked on a bonfire.
The Sea of Okhotsk is the coldest sea of East Asia, so those brave enough can take a dip!
In the evening we take the slow drive back to Magadan.
Dinner and drinks in Magadan
Overnight in the hotel.
Saturday 31st July – Magadan
Today we’ll start a trip to the scenic village of Ola located in the hills above Magadan.
On the way, we’ll see Nukli with it’s stunning chapel and monument in the rock.
Visit the monument to the Tsaregradsky and Bilibin, the men who arrived here on an expedition to this inhospitable region many years ago.
We’ll visit the Sleeping Dragon cliffs, with an observation deck and stunning views over the bay offering the chance to see birds and wildlife of the region. From here you can see the entire coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, from the Nyuklenskaya Spit to the Koni Peninsula.
After lunch, we will drive to see the Magadan Megaliths. Natural equal blocks formed by millions of years of unforgiving weather.
To round off the day, we’ll visit the Salt Lake of Magadan where you can take a relaxing swim if you like. In summer the water is very warm.
Return to Magadan in the evening.
At night, we head out for our last group dinner.
Although Magadan might not be renowned for its thriving nightlife, we still make the most of our last night by heading to Magadan’s Okean Bar for a YPT style last night party.
Overnight in the hotel.
Sunday 1st August – Magadan
Free morning in Magadan for last minute shopping, walking or relaxation.
We bid farewell to each other and we reach the end of the tour.
YPT can arrange any onward extension you wish, take the Trans-Siberian to Moscow or Beijing or explore more of the biggest country on earth. We can assist you with anything.
– All accommodation in twin-share hotels
– All transport as per itinerary
– Russian Letter of Invitation to assist with your visa
– Admission fees for museums
– 24 hour services of a bilingual, YPT tour leader and local English speaking tour guides