Tour description

Experience the contrasts of the Urals – the landscapes, mountains, Europe-Asia border, beautiful Bashkiria, brutal industrialism, and see how people really live in Russia.

General information

DepartsChelyabinsk (via Moscow or Ekaterinburg)
EndsEkaterinburg
Kilometers1,600km by road, 50km walking
VehicleVW Caravelle or similar van, late model, with professional driver
HotelsMinimum 3* hotels – comfortable rooms which include en-suite bathroom, WiFi, drinking water and breakfast
Included in your tour price:
  • Transfers to and from Ural airports.
  • All hotels in Ural are twin/double share, single price shown separately.
  • All transport in the Ural, drinking water, Geiger counter and WiFi in our van.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Entrance to attractions visited.
  • Guide.
  • Comfort stops.
Not included:
  • Airfares to and from Ural (we can book them if required).
  • Transfers and hotel in Moscow (we can provide if required at reasonable charge).
  • Personal travel insurance.
  • Alcohol and snacks.
  • Visa to Russia.


DAY 1 Sunday MAKING NEW FRIENDS
FLIGHT 2½ hrs  ROAD TRAVEL 20km  WALKING <1km
Meet at the airport in Chelyabinsk. If you travel via Moscow, we can collect you in Moscow airport for the flight to Chelyabinsk. Fly in the afternoon or evening, arriving in Chelyabinsk about 7pm or 02:40 local time (GMT+5). The later flight allows more time in Moscow. Transfers can be arranged to and from Moscow airport. On the way to the hotel in Chelyabinsk, we drop in to a massive statue with interesting lighting effect to Kurchatov, dubbed Father of the Soviet Atomic Bomb. A Ural native, he worked on the nuclear weapons program, which was in a closed city not far from Chelyabinsk. At the hotel we will relax with a few complimentary beers, wines and snacks to discuss details of the tour, health & safety instructions, and get to know each other – our groups are small and become friends during the tour.


DAY 2 Monday CHELYABINSK TO SIBAY, EDGE OF THE STEPPE 
ROAD TRAVEL 400km  WALKING 5-7km
We will start with a late breakfast at 9am, because the Ural is London +4/Berlin +3 time in the summer. After breakfast we’ll take a walk through central Chelyabinsk, take in the Ural architecture and quickly visit the museum to see a piece of the meteor which caused widespread low level damage in the city before it impacted in 2013. Later in the morning we will begin our journey to Sibay, our stepping stone for Arkaim. We will stop several times along the way to look at a wooden church, and to gaze across at the Magnitogorsk metallurgical factory and the Tyl Frontu. We will see both again closer up later. The landscape begins to show signs of the steppe as we get closer to Sibay, and the mighty Ural mountains may be visible if the sky is clear. Sibay is in Bashkiria – congratulations, you will have entered back into Europe from Asia during this journey. In Sibay we will have dinner in the hotel and there will be some time to go for a walk in the town after if you wish. The local railway station is quite representative of a Russian small regional railway station, and worth a visit.


DAY 3 Tuesday ARKAIM, THE STEPPE 
ROAD TRAVEL 170km  WALKING 6-8km
Arkaim awaits us. We will travel back across from Europe to Asia, and across the northern steppe to isolated Arkaim. At Arkaim a local guide will show the physical attribute of the Arkaim formation, left over from an old civilization. You will see some impressive arrays, which are more scientifically accurate than Stonehenge, yet from the same era. There will also be an opportunity to sense the magic and energy said to be present in the area, including on a nearby hill. After the Arkaim experience we will travel to a high spot on the steppe, to take in the expanse, the feeling of being isolated in this vast area. Our guides will set up a picnic here we can eat and take it in. On the way back to our base in Sibay, we will drop into a war memorial on a hill near the border of Europe and Asia and survey the border before we cross it. Back in Sibay, there will be a guided walk of the town and the local mine. Later in the evening there will be a BBQ and entertainment.
Steppe


DAY 4 Wednesday SIBAY TO ZLATOUST – THROUGH BASHKIRIA, ALONG THE EUROPE-ASIA BORDER
ROAD TRAVEL 350km  WALKING 2-3km
We will say goodbye to Sibay after breakfast. First stop of the day is Tyl Frontu. This is a most impressive monument, and what it represents is very powerful. From this place the metallurgical factory is visible across the river, pumping out mean looking smoke into the air. Driving north from Magnitogorsk, we enter the foothills of the Urals, and take in the natural beauty along the road. The road will pass through many Bashkir villages, horse farms, and criss-cross the Europe-Asia border several times. There will several stops along the way to photograph interesting sights, and we will lunch at a local Bashkir café. There also may be an opportunity to visit a local market and photograph in front of an impressive Soviet wall mural and statue of Lenin.


DAY 5 Thursday ZLATOUST/MIASS – MAKE A KNIFE OR DUMPLINGS
ROAD TRAVEL 110km  WALKING 4-6km
We begin our day at a nearby arms factory. This is not an old factory, but they have a very good guided tour and the possibility to make your own knife with the help of their masters. After the arms factory we will visit some local sights, including a stone and mineral museum and a look out. Later in the day we will have an opportunity to make some pelmeni (Russian dumplings) in the local pelmeni museum, and of course eat pelmeni for dinner.
Day 5 Knife Factory


DAY 6 Friday  ZLATOUST TO EKATERINBURG – NATURE VS. METALLURGY
ROAD TRAVEL 350km  WALKING 6-10km (elevation to 200m)
We drive out of the Zlatoust area through beautiful forest with mountains on both sides, when suddenly the trees stop. This town north of Zlatoust is a copper town, and has literally killed its trees. Its story is not a simple one. We will climb a small hill to survey the area, before continuing on the beautiful road, before entering a ravaged area of a now defunct nickel mine. We will drive fairly close to what was Chelyabinsk 40, the place of several nuclear accidents after the war into the 1950s, and where Kurchatov received a very dangerous dose of radiation. This town to this day is closed to foreigners, and most Russians. We monitor with a Geiger counter as we drive through here – it is quite safe now, a testament to the clean ups and nature’s capacity to overcome consequences of man-made accidents.
Day 6 Zlatoust to Ekaterinburg


DAY 7 Saturday AROUND EKATERINBURG – DEMISE OF THE RUSSIAN ROYAL FAMILY & MILITARY MUSEUM
ROAD TRAVEL 50km  WALKING 8-10km
During the morning we will drive past the place where the Romanov family were killed, and explain the context. We will drive out to the place where their bodies were dumped and mutilated, now the site of a monastery. After lunch we will travel to the nearby military hardware museum, a large scale and impressive museum both indoors and outdoors. We will return to the hotel early evening, and after dinner will walk around the center to the city lookout.


DAY 8 Sunday LAST CHANCE TO SHOP
FLIGHT 2½ hrs  ROAD TRAVEL 25km  WALKING 6-8km
This morning we will go for an early morning walk for those who wish. After breakfast, a visit to the Yeltsin Center, and some shopping. Flights to Moscow with connections to Europe, leave mid-late afternoon, e.g. 15:00 and 17:00 flights to Moscow gives a same day connection to London on Aeroflot.
Day 8