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Paul KIernan, UK-London, 04.09.2019 00:00:00

Another Great Stalingrad Tour 

This was my 4th Stalingrad Tour, all with Volgograd Sputnik Travel Company and all with Mikhail Shuvarikov as guide. This was a completely bespoke tour with Mikhail taking me to a number of specific areas I wanted to see, along with a couple of surprises!

On the first day with visited Mamayev Kurgan, which I had seen many times, but this time we wandered off the beaten track and saw the Western slopes, an old German Pillbox on the Summit and an old fresh water spring which is referenced in several books on the battle. On the way home we popped in to the Planetarium where we were able to see the Stalin Mosaic (now uncovered after Kruschev had originally ordered it covered over).

On the second day we first visited the Red October factory which is being renovated and looked very different on the outside. Where the works are taking place we were able to see original walls and foundations from old buildings. To my great surprise Mikhail was able to organise a tour of the Red October museum – normally closed to foreigners. This was partly by luck as he was able to contact the museum director who happened to be there and gave us a wonderful tour. I’d suggest giving plenty of notice if you wanted to do this. It is a terrific museum and well worth a visit if you are able to arrange it.

From there we moved north to visit the site of the western crossing point in this area for the 62nd Army. We then did a quick detour to the old Traktor Stalingrad football stadium which I had passed before and wanted to see. This is a post-war stadium but still interesting and worth a look.

We then moved off north again towards the Barrikady factory. Our plan here was to visit/revisit important locations from the battle for this area – covered in detail in Jason Mark’s excellent “Island of Fire”. We started off by visiting the site of the old Barrikady Fuel tanks, to the south-east of the factory, and from there went on to visit the (rebuilt) Kindergarten, the remains of the Komissarhaus. We think we also found some very limited remains of the Pharmacy (Apotheke). We then visited the Rolik Gully, where we saw the renovated memorial, the Transformer Hut (still operational) and the water pump. We went on to revisit the remains of Lyudnikov’s Observation post (The Red House/Rotes Haus), before visiting one of the Houses (possibly No 73) – repaired after the war and now an apartment block. Shell holes are still visible in some of the brickwork and the basement. 

All of this was done during roasting temperatures of 36 degrees, so we took a short break, driving over to the beach on the East side of the Volga, where we had a welcome swim in the Volga and a nice cold beer! From here, staying on the east side, we went through Krasnysloboda to the memorial at the eastern crossing point for the 62nd Army, before crossing back to see the new memorial site at the location of Rodimtsev’s HQ (having been able to see Rodintsev’s wall from the East bank). To finish the day, Mikhail kindly drove to “Coventry Street” which I had never managed to find on my previous visits (it is close to the Chuikov memorial).

On the third day we headed to the River Don, to witness the closing ceremony of the annual excavations, where volunteers from all over the Russian Federation dig to find missing soldiers remains. On the way we stopped at two memorials. The first was to a Soviet tank crew who were deliberately burned alive in their tank by the Nazis. The second was at the site of a POW camp at Vertyachiy. We also found time for a swim in the River Don before moving on to find the Excavation team. I had previously been on the Excavations near Kuzmichi, so was aware how hard these teams work. Here we saw the presentations to the searchers, and then the moving closing ceremony which includes a blessing by a Russian Orthodox speech (respected by the volunteers of many faiths including Muslims and Buddhists), and a torch-lit end to the proceedings. Local government representatives were present and the event was covered by Regional TV.

On the fourth day, at my request Mikhail had arranged for us to visit a local shooting range where we were able to some modern guns but most importantly the famous PPSH-41. After that we took an impromptu river trip on the Volga. We went in a speed-boat, more expensive than the pleasure boats, but the boat goes right up to the hydro-electric dam. The pleasure boats turn around at the Motherland Calls statue, so the extra distance we covered allowed us to see the Factory District from the river (the Rolik Gully area was very clear). In hindsight I wish we had asked Mikhail to arrange this, as he could explain to the driver to slow down at important sights. Still a great trip – but if you do it get Mikhail to arrange it would be my advice.

To round off the day, we revisited the Univermag museum, which now included a (very load!) video presentation.
A fantastic trip, covering everything I wanted to see and more! I can’t recommend Mikhail and his company enough. When I (inevitably!) go back it will be with Mikhail as my guide again. Great bloke and a great guide.

Date of experience: August 2019

Stephen & Margaret Oas-Zeigler-USA, 16.10.2019 00:00:00

Both my wife and I loved this 3-day History Tour of Stalingrad

I am very knowledgeable about the battle of Stalingrad - yet I learned much more in Mykhail's fantastic and moving tour. It was all I could ask for, as I received in-depth and intelligent answers to all my questions, wrapped into a fast-paced trip through many highlights. But the really amazing thing was that my wife was just as engaged, moved and entertained as I. She was inspired by the awesome sacrifices that came alive with Mikhail's excellent English. Thank you so much!

Date of experience: October 2019

Mark Trippit, Australia, 26.10.2019 00:00:00

Exceptional tour

We took the 3 day Stalingrad Battlefield tour including the excursion to Pitomnik (German airfield) in August 2019 with Stalingradtours. It was a fantastic tour and provided an extensive exposure to the battles that changed the course of WW2. Right from the start the company was great to deal with and always got immediately back to us during the booking process and was able to cater to all our needs. Our accommodation was great and in a central location as recommended by the company. Our guide was outstanding, excellent knowledge, with great contacts to get to the places that really mattered, his English was very good and was always there if we needed assistance. Both prior to, during and after the tour he has been a pleasure to deal with. The tour content was a great mix of museums, historic sites, field trips and the people that changed the course of history. My wife (who is not a history or war buff) loved the tour. We traveled in Russia for 2 months and this tour with Stalingradtours was one of the highlights. If you are thinking of travelling to Volgograd (Stalingrad) do it before it gets to commercialised and don’t pass these guys up.

Date of experience: August 2019

GUILLAUME Suzanne and Robin, Switzerland, 28.10.2019 00:00:00

Un voyage extraordinaire

Nous avons vécu 4 jours fantastiques et inoubliables! Grâce au professionnalisme des guides et leur gentillesse nous avons pu nous immerger complément dans l’histoire de cette ville et région. Ce voyage ainsi que les personnes qui l’ont organisé resteront dans nos cœurs pour…

Date of experience: October 2019

David Vere, UK-London , 07.11.2019 00:00:00

Stalingrad Battlefield Tour: 28 October - 1 November 2019

I found out about the Volgograd Sputnik Travel Company through an internet search and felt a Russian tour would be most educational. I made contact with Mikhail at the company who readily provided details of a three day tour in the city and out at Kalach. Mikhail also booked me into the Hampton by Hilton hotel which was excellent. Over three days we visited all the major battle sites in the city and beyond. Mikhail was most informative and added many individual stories to illustrate the reality of the battle. He also recommended three excellent restaurants for dinner which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have no hesitation in recommending this company to guide you through the battlefield which was a most sobering experience and which put the role of the Russians in the Second World (or Patriotic) war into context.

Date of experience: November 2019

Niall McDonagh. Ireland/Saudi Arabia, 24.11.2019 00:00:00


The Mother of all War Tours and a Farewell to Arms!

Let me declare an interest first.
I have visited as many of the major World War 2 (and 1!) sites over the years as has been possible.
Normandy, Arnhem, Bastogne, Verdun etc. (even Khe Sanh at one point!!)...there is nothing like seeing on the ground what you read in books.
It's been the most glorious, stimulating, gut-wrenching and life educating time of my life.
But there was always lurking in the background...the ultimate destination, the highest blood price, the most horrific battle of all time: Stalingrad.
It called out. It beckoned. There was always a reason not to go. The distance, the weather, the visas...whether to see it in the Winter or Summer...etc. etc..
I finally took the plunge this month and in choosing Sputnik Travel Company and Mikhail in particular I struck gold.
The visa process was surprisingly straight-forward with Sputnik sending the necessary email immediately. They were extremely prompt. You know that you are dealing with a well-oiled machine that values its clientele. I actually visited their office and they are 24/7 on it.
Of course every company is only as good as its representatives and in this Mikhail is a rock star.
I came with some photos from Angriff (Jason Mack) and the After the Battle magazine. I thought that Mikhail might be impressed...hah!!!
The guy is a walking talking encyclopedia of Stalingrad's tragic World War 2 experience.
I did the full 3 day tour which still was not enough but Mikhail was there to educate me, stimulate me and urge me on to celebrate our joint passion for History.
If you want to see lesser known sights like Pitomnik or Gumrak or Gorodishche then there is simply no alternative to Sputnik.
There are often no signs in these places and the information has simply been handed down through Mikhail's father and other keepers of the flame.
Sputnik I guarantee you are the only game in town and Mikhail is gold.
I saw photos in the Grain Silo that Mikhail had taken and were framed there. Again, photos of Mikhail as a teenager at war excavations with his father...something he is still engaged in every year when he finds time.
He is a friendly informative and professional guy who amazed me everyday with his passion and knowledge.
Everyone knows him and he gets you places no one else can.
We even tried to bribe a guard at the now closed Tractor Plant!! Milhail didn't flinch!! He is there for YOU!!
So go to Stalingrad. It is a vibrant happening city that was a World Cup venue and has all the amenities you need...not in ruins trust me!!
You have to use Sputnik...the only professional game in town.
As for me...well, the experience was so wonderful, so intense, that I have decided to end my War Tourism here. Nothing can match the Stalingrad experience.
Nothing matches Sputnik.
Mikhail I thank you for making my dreams come true...now if I could only convince the wife to come next time!

Date of experience: November 2019

Dominique Verstappen, The Netherlands, 24.11.2019 00:00:00

Stalingrad battlefield tour (3 dagen)

We hebben met 3 van 16 tm 18 november de driedaagse battlefield tour gedaan. We hadden hiervoor al een behoorlijk aantal battlefield tours gedaan maar deze was verreweg de beste. Enerzijds wellicht door het feit dat het Stalingrad betrof maar anderzijds toch ook zeker door onze fantastische gids Mikhael. De drie dagen waren intensief en volgeboekt met geen verloren tijd aan lange lunches of pauzes. Mikhael nam ons naar alle bezienswaardige plaatsen in en rond Stalingrad en was uitermate goed geinformeerd en deelde zijn kennis met enthousiasme. Met name de vele persoonlijke anekdotes die hij wist te vertellen maakten het speciaal. Mikhael was duidelijk zelf zeer geinteresseerd en betrokken en dat maakt een wereld van verschil bij een gids. Alles was tot in de puntjes geregeld, we werden altijd netjes op tijd op gehaald en het hele programma liep als een klok. We kunnen iedereen die een Stalingrad battlefield tour overweegt Mikhael en zijn bedrijf van harte aanbevelen. Wij hebben zelf inmiddels al besloten volgend jaar via Volgograd Sputnik Travel Company een tour naar Kursk of Leningrad te maken. Date of experience: November 2019

In English

We did the three-day battlefield tour with 3 from 16 to 18 November. We had already done quite a few battlefield tours for this, but this one was by far the best. On the one hand perhaps due to the fact that it concerned Stalingrad but on the other hand certainly also through our fantastic guide Mikhael. The three days were intensive and fully booked with no wasted time on long lunches or breaks. Mikhael took us to all the places of interest in and around Stalingrad and was extremely knowledgeable and shared his knowledge with enthusiasm. In particular, the many personal anecdotes that he managed to tell made it special. Mikhael was clearly very interested and involved and that makes a world of difference with a guide. Everything was arranged down to the last detail, we were always picked up on time and the entire program ran like clockwork. We can heartily recommend Mikhael and his company to anyone considering a Stalingrad battlefield tour. We have already decided to make a tour to Kursk or Siege of Leningrad tour next year through Volgograd Sputnik Travel Company.

Date of experience: November 2019

Steven Bukvic. Coventry, England, 01.12.2019 00:00:00


An Outstanding Tour - The Battle for Stalingrad (1942-1943)

In recognition of my home town's (Coventry, England) twinning with Stalingrad, my passion to understand more about the Second World War, and to celebrate my 60th birthday I visited Stalingrad (now Volgograd) 5-8 November 2019.

After an internet search and receiving a number of quotations I selected the Volgograd Sputnik Travel Company to provide the tour guide for my wife and I. Prior to my tour I had read multiple reports about the tour guide, Mikhail. The reports were extremely accurate. Mikhail is a walking encyclopedia of the Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943). Mikhail speaks excellent English and not only de he impart detailed knowledge of the most ferocious battle of WWII but his passion about all aspects of the battle are deeply rooted from his childhood interest through to the present day.

Due to time constraints we opted for a full 2-day tour and it was a perfect blend of information, sites and relaxation time. Mikhail was adaptable / flexible to our needs allowing more or less time at each site depending upon our requirements. At the same time, he managed the key timings to perfection, ensuring for example we were on time for teh changing of the guards at Mamayev Kurgan.

Mikhail is clearly popular with the various people we met at the different sites and museums and the tour was well managed. With a very comfortable car and steady driving Mikhail delivered us safely from location to location.

Only by taking this tour can you truly appreciate the scale of the battle that unfolded but also the layout of Stalingrad as a city and the many heroes associated with this battle.

Credit should also be given to Victoria (sorry I couldn't find you to say thank you and goodbye) who was our assigned English speaking guide who provided the tour of the Basement of the Central Department Store where Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus in command of the German 6th Army surrendered to the Soviet Red Army.

I recommend without hesitation Mikhail as and expert guide for this amazing tour. I will certainly use Mikhail for my future visit to Stalingrad for a few extra days of tours. I will also engage with Sputnik Travel for my planned tours to Kursk and St. Petersburg.

Superb performance as a guide. Steve & Ludmila

Date of experience: November 2019

Garth Perry, UK-London, 03.12.2019 00:00:00

Stalingrad Battle Tour 16th to 18th November 2019

Always have been interested in World War Two and when I read about a Stalingrad Battlefield Tour in the Sunday Times, it seemed a great opportunity to learn about the battle of Stalingrad first hand. The trip itself was organised via Regent holidays who proved very satisfactory and all went according to plan including obtaining the necessary Visa.

On the ground though it was the Volgograd Sputnik Travel Company and especially Mikhail that brought the insight and understanding to help really understand the sheer scale of the battle, the devastation, the loss of life and the importance of the battle. In addition he was able to use stories from his own family and the ongoing work to recover the bodies of missing soldiers to enlighten us of the human cost of the battle. He is an excellent guide with an in depth knowledge of the subject and the critical events and sites that you need to see. From picking us up at the airport to dropping us off again four days later he went out of his way to make sure we got from the tour what we were looking for.

For anyone looking for a a Stalingrad battlefield tour I highly recommend Mikhail and the Volgograd travel company. Thank you Mikhail for making it a great experience.

Date of experience: November 2019

John Theobald, London-UK, 08.12.2019 00:00:00

Excellent Battlefield Tours With A Knowledgeable Guide

My partner and I spent two days with Mikhail after meeting us at the railway station we walked the central area of Volgograd visiting key sites, memorials and the basement of the old department store where Field Marshal Paulus surrendered (now a museum). We then moved on to Mamaev Kurgan a key battleground and site of the dramatic "Motherland Calls" statue and the memorial flame hall. After an excellent lunch in a Russian restaurant we visited the Grain Elevator and Panorama Museum both of which are an impressive and fitting memorial. On our second day we visited sites in the northern industrial districts; Red October Steelworks, Barrikady armaments factory, Tractor factory all scenes of intense fighting. We also saw Colonel General Lyudinkov's headquarters and toured the famous "Lyudnikov Island" enclave including no-mans-land where the apartments still display significant battle damage on their walls. We completed out tour by driving out of the city visiting the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" in the town of Gorodische, the church was used by the Nazis as a dressing station and was badly damaged first by the German offensive and then by the Soviet counter offensive. Our final visits were to the Rossoshka war memorials and cemeteries of Soviet, German and Romanian soldiers. Mikhail is an excellent guide, speaks very good English and is very knowledgeable. I would highly recommend these tours for anyone wanting to visit Volgograd.

Date of experience: November 2019