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23 Day Russia Waterways & China Silk Road Tour 2014

This tour combines the Russia Waterways tour with a China Silk Road tour, letting you explore the rich historical heritage of Russia and China and experience the lifestyles of the people in these two countries. While relaxing on a luxury cruise in Russia cruising along Moscow, Uglich, Yaroslavl, Goritsy, Kizhi, Mandrogui and St Petersburg, you will go on shore to visit many places of interest. In China, you will retrace the steps of Marco Polo along the Legendary Silk Road. See the preserved architectural splendors and explore the amazing artistic achievements of the incredible Buddhist cave art of Mogao Caves. This combined tour is an experience you will never forget.

 

 

Day 01: Australia – Guangzhou (D)

Depart to Guangzhou, the southern gateway of China on China Southern Airlines and arrive in the evening. You are transferred to hotel for the night.

 

Day 02: Guangzhou – Moscow (B)

You will fly to Moscow from Guangzhou via Urumqi and arrive in Moscow in evening. Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to Ship.

Accommodation: On board.

 

Day 03:  Moscow (B/L/D) 

Moscow is Russia's largest city, it's political and economic capital. Through bribes, diplomacy and coercion, Moscow overcame its two rival principalities to become Russia's first city. Moscow's role was briefly challenged when Tsar Peter the Great moved the capital to his new city Saint Petersburg, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Today is dedicated to exploring Red Square, Leningradskaya and Tverskaya streets, Novodevichiy Convent (exterior), KGB (exterior), GUM and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (exterior). You may also like to take part in the optional excursions like Moscow by night & Metro. 
Accommodation:  On board.

 

Day 04: Moscow (B/L/D)

Today is very special, as we will go inside the Kremlin - the ancient castle built to withstand the Mongol hordes. Throughout history, the Kremlin has been the centre of political power in Russia and it remains a symbolic political centre even today. It is the official site of the inauguration ceremony of the Russian President. The Kremlin is a living museum of Russia's history. This historical treasure has been so well preserved that it seems that you are travelling back in time. You will see the most interesting places in the Kremlin as you follow our professional guide in the steps of some of the world's greatest leaders and its most terrible dictators. Afterwards there will be optional excursions on offer which may include the National folk show 'Kostroma.'
Accommodation:  On board.

 

Day 05: Uglich (B/L/D)

Uglich is a small town located on the Volga River. It is most famous for the tragic events that took place in 1591, when the 10 year old  Prince Dimitry, the last heir to the thrown of the ancient Ruyrik Dynasty, was killed here. Historians now agree that he was killed by Boris Godunov, adviser to Dimitry, who wanted the throne to himself. Dimitry's death plunged Russia into decades of political turmoil known as the Time of Trouble.
You will discover the town on a walking tour with a visit to the Kremlin, Transfiguration Cathedral, and the church of Saint Dimitry on the Blood.
Accommodation:  On board.

 

Day 06: Yaroslavl (B/L/D)

By today's standards Yaroslavl is small, but its place in Russia's history and culture cannot be underestimated. Before it was annihilated by the Mongols it was Russia's largest city, its economic, political, cultural and scientific centre. It was rebuilt shortly after but was once again burnt to the ground. While the Mongols had been preoccupied with Yaroslavl, Moscow was able to harness enough power to overthrow the 'Mongol yoke.' You will explore this town on the Volga River by bus with stops in Nikolas Wonderworker, Governor's Art Gallery, and church of the Prophet Elijah. You will also have free time to explore the local market.
Accommodation:  On board.

 

Day 07: Goritsy (B/L/D)

Goritzy is famous for the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery (1937). This monastery's strong walls and bastions were used by some nobles as a safe house during the Time of Trouble. The Polish Armies stormed it, but never succeeded capturing it. Unfortunately, the monastery was not successful in repelling the attacks of other invaders four centuries later. The Bolsheviks closed the monastery in the early 20th century and sent its monks to the prison camps. On your walking tour around the small town you will go inside the local Monastery of Saint Cyril on the White Lake, an exceptional Museum of icons.
Accommodation:  On board.

 

Day 08: Kizhi (B/L/D)

Kizhi-Island Kizhi is the name of a unique island located on Lake Onega. In the centre of the island stands the amazing Transfiguration Church. This wooden church and its 22 domes are said to be built without a single nail. In fact, originally, the Transfiguration Church was located in another place. The Bolsheviks, who had little, if no, respect for religion, had some respect for its architectural value. So they decided to move this unique church as far from the major cities and people as possible, to distant Kizhi Island. You will devote this day on the island to the open-air museum of wooden architecture.
Accommodation:  On board.

 

Day 09: Mandrogui (B/L/D)

Mandrogi is the name of a small village that has no architectural wonders, giant castles or churches. You will however discover the unique style and architecture of the northern tribes that have occupied these lands for centuries. Here among the beautiful landscapes of this peaceful place we will have Russian famous shashlik (meat kebab) made on the grill. You will have free time to stroll around the town and buy some souvenirs, before returning to the ship. Whilst cruising on board the ship, you will experience live music concerts, a Russian language course, Russian song lessons, dancing music in bars nightly and the Captain's bridge tour.   
Accommodation:  On board.

 

Day 10 – 11: St. Petersburg (B/L/D)

St Petersburg is Russia's cultural and historical treasure, one of the world's most beautiful cities. It is known as Venice of the north, thanks to its numerous canals and hundreds of bridges. It can rightly be called a living museum - so many of its buildings are a part of Russia's history. These two days there will be a bus city tour to Smolny convent, Tavrichesky Palace, Summer Garden, Palace embankment, Winter Palace, buildings of exchange and Nevsky Prospect. There is a walking tour of St Peter and Paul's Fortress. Also included is a visit to the Winter Palace, which is home to the Hermitage Museum - the largest collection of Russian art in the world. The Hermitage originally started as the private art collection of Catherine The Great. The art works are displayed in numerous halls, many of which are works of art in themselves. You may like to take part in an optional excursion to a Russian Folk Show, or a Rivers & Canals tour at night. 
Accommodation: On board.

 

Day 12: St Petersburg

Today is at leisure to explore St Petersburg. You may wish to take the optional excursions on offer to Pushkin (Catherine Palace and Park) or Peterhof (lower park only). 
Tonight there will be a presentation of the crew and the staff, followed by dinner.
Accommodation:  On board.

 

Day 13: St Petersburg – Moscow - Urumqi (B)

You are at leisure until transfer out to airport for your flight to Moscow where you will be met and taken to visit Kolomenskoe Museum, which is an open air museum including examples of Russian wooden architecture of the 17 – 18th centuries. After that, you are transferred to airport for your flight to Urumqi, China to start your Silk Road tour. Fly overnight.

 

Day 14: Urumqi (B/L/D)

You will arrive at Urumqi in morning. Upon arrival, you are transferred to hotel for breakfast and rest. Afternoon, you will visit the Erdaoqiao International Grand Bazaar. It is a magnificent commercial architectural complex embodied with a strong flavour of Islam. The Bazaar furnishes different kinds of goods made in Xinjiang as well as other neighbouring countries, and offers all the ethnic food and souvenirs you would anticipate. You can practise your negotiation with venders there.

 

Day 15: Urumqi (B/L/D)

A coach drive will take you to the Heavenly Lake located half way to the top of the Bogoda Peak. Heavenly Lake was once known as Yaochi. With many stories and the picturesque surroundings this fair land is special indeed. An ancient poem tells us that a Western Queen once lived here, the King of China came to visit and they fell in love. The deep-blue Heavenly Lake is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and covered with evergreen fir trees, which is a fascinating and wonderful sight one can have never seen elsewhere. Afternoon visit includes the Nanshan Prairie, the Baiyang Valley Scenic Spot. Pine trees cover the mountains while clay brick houses and yurts spread over the pasture.  A highlight today is a visit to local Kazak family. You will be the guest in a Yurt sitting down having a chat with the warm-hearted Kazak people, experiencing the authentic local life. Enjoy a local banquet with Xinjiang specialty in the evening. Stay overnight in Urumqi.

 

Day 16: Urumqi – Turpan (B/L/D)

Drive to Turpan, the Ancient city of Jiao He, a famous historical city. Turpan boasts China’s four most: highest temperature, lowest spot, sweetest grapes, and least rainfall. All of these make it possible for many miracles to happen in this area. You will start with the Ancient Ruins of Jiaohe City, traced back to the later period of Western Han Dynasty. The city was completely abandoned in the Yuan Dynasty and the city of Jiaohe was left to ruin. Continue to visit the ingenious Karez underground irrigation system that created an oasis in the extraordinarily arid area of Turpan. This system covers 5,000 kilometres in length and it is one of the three greatest projects in ancient China as famous as the Great Wall and the Grand Canal.  

 

Day 17: Turpan – Urumqi (B/L/D)

Also included is a visit to the Flaming Mountain, which is 100 kilometres long from east to west, and 10 kilometres wide with an average height of 500 metres. The mountain of red sand stone is covered with visible signs of water erosion, and is devoid of any plant life. It is easy to recognize these mountains as they glow under the blazing sun. A special visit to the Grape Valley nestling on the western slopes of the Flaming Mountain will be arranged, where you will have a chance to call on a local family to experience the ethnic life style, while tasting the beautiful flavours of the Xinjiang fruits and enjoying the local minority songs and dances. Drive back to Urumqi and stay overnight there.

 

Day 18: Urumqi – Dunhuang (B/L/D)

After breakfast, you are transferred to airport for your flight to Dunhuang, a famous passage on Silk Road. Dunhuang is considered by some to be the most wonderful section of the Silk Road tour. Well-known places here are the Mogao Grottoes, Sounding-sand Hill and the Crescent Spring. On the way to Dunhuang, you will view the ruin portion of the Great Wall, which is traced back to Han Dynasty and the Beacon Tower on the Wall for relaying information of the warfare in the ancient time. Then proceed to Sounding-sand Hill, which is also called “Holy Hill”. The Hill is made up of colourful sand that looks like particles of grain. Sliding down on the sand from the top of the mountain makes a pleasant sound. At the beginning, it sounds like music from a stringed instrument and bamboo flute. The further down the person slides, the louder the sound is. Eventually the sound is like the performance of percussion section and drum. The friction between human body and the sand even makes a visible spark. When arriving at the bottom of Sounding- sand Hill, take a camel ride to climb up to the hill (at your own expense). You can slide down the sandy slopes. It is really exciting. Another highlight of today’s tour is to visit the Crescent Spring, which is also called Sand Spring. The local people now also call it the “Medicine Spring”. The spring gets its name because it looks like a crescent. The spring is surrounded by Sounding-sand Hill. The place between the spring and the sand is only several metres away, but the wind never blows sand into the spring, which is hard to imagine. After that, take a coach to Mogao Grottoes, one of the eight wonders of the world. Dunhuang Grottoes display a very colourful and descriptive world in the paintings of: Buddha, illustrations of Buddhist scriptures, the stories of ghosts on the earth, stories explaining the tenets of Buddhism, the development of Buddhist history, sacrificial ceremonies, and some paintings apparently just for decoration. There are seven different categories of paintings in these Grottoes. Many foreign visitors draw a conclusion that “it is certain that you will understand the ancient civilization of the whole world after you have seen Dunhuang Grottoes”.  Stay overnight in Dunhuang.

 

Day 19: Dunhuang – Jiayuguan – Lanzhou (B/L/D)

Take a bus trip to Jiayuguan Pass, the west end of the Great Wall (about 4 hours). This pass is considered  “the First Pass” in China. Visit the Jiayuguan Great Wall and Xuanbi Great Wall. Take a night train to Lanzhou (soft sleeper, Quad shared compartment with bunk beds).

 

Day 20: Lanzhou (B/L/D)

Arrive at Lanzhou in the morning. Transfer to hotel for breakfast and refreshing. After that, you will visit Zhongshan Bridge, “the Number one Bridge over the Yellow River” and Baita (White Pagoda) Mountain. The mountain was names Baita because a White Pagoda was built there. The pagoda was originally built in the Yuan Dynasty, but the existing structure was rebuilt between 1450 and 1456 in the Ming Dynasty. It is a combination of inverted-bowl and multi-storeyed styles. Generally, if a pagoda combines the two styles, the lower part is multi-storeyed while the upper one takes the shape of an inverted bowl, but this pagoda reversed the rule. Its lower part is an inverted bowl and its upper part multi-storeyed, making it a rare example among ancient pagodas.

 

Day 21: Lanzhou – Guangzhou (B/L/D)

Visit the Statue of Mother of Yellow River, the irrigation ancient tools of Yellow River and Ancient Water Tankers. Then you are transferred to airport for your flight to Guangzhou. Upon arrival, you are transferred to hotel. Stay overnight in Guangzhou.

 

Day 22: Guangzhou – Australia (B/D)

You are at leisure to do some last minute shopping at this exciting city. After dinner, you are transferred to airport for your flight homewards to Australia.

 

Day 23: Australia

Arrive in Australia in the morning. Your unforgettable Russia Waterways and China Silk Road tour ends.

 

Departure Dates: 20 May & 12 August 14.
Tour Price: $5,990 per person, twin share.
Single supplement: $1,650.

 

Inclusions:
1. Air fares with China Southern Airlines from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane into Moscow and out of Moscow via Guangzhou and Urumqi.
2. Airport tax and fuel surcharge (currently $580, subject to change).
3. A 12 day river cruise between Moscow and St. Petersburg including all port taxes in a twin shared cabin of Main Deck on George Chicherin or similar.
4. All accommodation, mainly 4 stars in China on the Silk Road tour.
5. All transfer and transport.
6. All entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary.
7. Many meals as mentioned in the itinerary.
8. Services of local tour guides.
9. Russia and China domestic flights.

 

Exclusions:
1. Travel insurance.
2. Russia visa fee (current $130 for single entry) and China visa fee (current $98.50 for single entry) for Australia passport holders.
3. Tips to guides and drivers.
4. Personal expenses.
5. Any services or meals not mentioned in the itinerary.



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