Bespoke trips with Alexandra to the former Russian Empire; riding horses in Kyrgyzstan, ‘Tolstoy tours’ to Yasnaya Polyana, and everything else in between
Join Alexandra for the adventure of a lifetime, riding horses in the magnificent Tien Shan Mountains, home to the nomadic Kyrgyz people and some of the most beautiful and untouched scenery in the world. Or join her for a ’Tolstoy tour’, taking in the writer’s homes in Moscow and Tula.
A unique experience
A relative of Leo Tolstoy and a fluent Russian speaker, with decades of experience of living and travelling (much of it by horse!) all over the former Russian Empire, Alexandra can offer unrivalled access to this historically, culturally and geographically fascinating region.
Alexandra’s passion for travel
In 1997 Alexandra left a secure job as an equities broker in London to pursue a dream; riding the Silk Road by horse and camel. The dream became a reality and in 1999 at the age of 25, together with three girlfriends, she rode 5,000 miles from Merv in Turkmenistan to the ancient Silk Road city of Xian in China.
For nine months they camped in steppes, mountains and deserts, riding through the most extreme weather conditions, ranging from -15C in the snowy Tien Shan Mountains to +50C in the Taklamakan Desert.
In 2002 Alexandra spent a further six months riding through Mongolia and Eastern Siberia. This passion for adventure and travelling by horse developed into a business of leading groups on riding trips to Central Asia, and later the same year she led her first trip for clients to Central Asia, giving them a unique experience far from their everyday lives as they rode and camped for ten days a route chosen for its beauty and remoteness. By popular demand Alexandra continued to lead regular trips for discerning travellers for six years, sharing her knowledge and passion for Central Asia, and in particular the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. After taking a break for a decade whilst having children, Alexandra returned to Kyrgyzstan in 2018 with her children to give them a taste of her passion for remote travel. Inspired by their adventure, she has resumed her trips, including an option for family travel. In 2019 she led a group of three families (including nine children) on a highly successful trip to Sary Chelek nature reserve.
In between her adventures, Alexandra lived in Moscow on and off for almost twenty years, visiting St Petersburg and other historical Russian cities, as well as spending a significant amount of time in Uzbekistan and the Silk Road oases of Samarkand and Bukhara. A great admirer of Russian art and folk crafts, relatively unknown in the West, Alexandra plans to lead bespoke trips to St Petersburg, as well as to traditional areas of the Russian countryside. There will also be trips to Uzbekistan and Georgia.
Alexandra has teamed up with Ampersand Travel to curate two riding trips in 2020 to the magnificent national park of Sary Chelek, teeming with wild flowers and rare walnut forests, in the south-west of Kyrgyzstan. Bespoke trips for either families or adults are available in July or August, to Sary Chelek or Kichi Naryn, an open valley full of nomadic horse herders, higher up in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Groups are a maximum of twelve people and an intermediate level of riding is required (walking, trotting and cantering).
Typically a trip is ten days long and around 25km is covered per day (up to 20km for family trips). The horses are local and bred to be agile in the mountains, as well as fit for long distances. Accompanied by several guides on horseback, the group is also supported by a back-up truck with staff, which goes ahead each day to set up camp. Staff include cooks and an English speaking guide and photographer. Camping is in British three-man tents and a large mess tent (with tables and chairs) is provided for meals, all freshly cooked with local ingredients. Each night there is hot water for washing and shower and loo tents are provided.
In November 2019 Alexandra, together with Ampersand Travel is leading a four day ‘Tolstoy tour’, taking in the writer’s city and country homes, as well as the principal sites of Moscow. Guests will stay at the five star National Hotel in Moscow and at the B & B belonging to Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy’s country estate.
“There is no better holiday in our eyes; time spent together doing something so invigorating and disconnected from the stresses of the modern world is invaluable… Life is complicated but these slices of simplicity and proximity to nature are restoration for the soul, and we look forward to sharing our precious experiences with others”