Escapes

Escapes

Bespoke escapes with Alexandra to the former Russian Empire; riding escapes to Kyrgyzstan, art escapes to St Petersburg, 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 city escape to St Petersburg, with unrivalled access to the city’s best museums, art collections and palaces.

A unique experience

A fluent Russian speaker and 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.

This adventure fired a passion in Alexandra for travelling by horse in the mountains and steppes of nomadic countries, and developed into her business of leading groups on riding escapes to Kyrgyzstan.

In 2002 she spent a further six months riding through Mongolia and later that 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 last summer with her two young sons and daughter to give them a taste of her passion for remote travel. Inspired by their adventure, she is resuming her trips in 2019, but now including an option for family groups.

In between her adventures, Alexandra lived in Moscow on and off for almost twenty years, visiting St Petersburg and other historical Russian cities on many occasions during her time there. A great admirer of Russian art, relatively unknown in the West, Alexandra plans to lead bespoke escapes to St Petersburg several times a year, providing unparalleled access to museums, galleries, palaces and theatres. Other escapes will follow, with Georgia most definitely on the target list, as well as Uzbekistan!

Escapes details

There will be one scheduled trip per year to Kyrgyzstan for families in May, and one for adults in June, to the beautiful 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 also available in July or August, to Kichi Naryn, an open valley full of nomadic horse herders, higher up in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Groups can range from two people to ten, and prices vary accordingly.

Typically a trip is ten days long and between 25 – 30km 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 camp staff, which goes ahead each day to strike camp. Staff include a cook and English speaking guide and photographer.

In 2006 the well-known American political satirist and journalist P.J. O’Rourke joined Alexandra on a trip to Sary Chelek in Kyrgyzstan. Click here to read his hilarious (using a large dose of artistic license and exaggeration!) account.

In the autumn Alexandra will lead a four day escape to St Petersburg, staying at the magnificent Astoria Hotel, and visiting the Hermitage, Russia and Ethnographic Museums, amongst many others, as well as attending the ballet or opera and the city’s finest restaurants. 

Trips

    Sary-Chelek Reserve

    kyrgyzstan

    This ride takes place in Sary Chelek Reserve in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Translated as ‘golden hollow’, Sary Chelek is considered a charmed land, and a destination that even the Kyrgyz dream of visiting, with its alpine meadows and seven pristine mountain lakes. 

    Kichi Naryn

    kyrgyzstan

    Wedged into a striking canyon of the Tien Shan (‘Celestial’) Mountains of Kyrgyzstan, the Naryn region is breathtakingly beautiful with its vast open valleys, alpine pastures and soaring, snow-covered peaks. It is here that the Kyrgyz culture is considered most ‘pure’ and the only people to be encountered are nomadic shepherds with their herds of horses.

“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”

ALEXANDRA TOLSTOY , ULTRATRAVEL, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

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