At the Crossroads of Europe & Asia

Photo credit: Georgia Tourism Board

How to Design the Trip of Your Dreams with MIR’s Private Travel Expertise

Private helicopter tour, Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin
Private helicopter tour, Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

What’s your idea of the perfect dream trip — one that goes beyond the guidebooks, beyond the one-size fits all approach and the usual list of must-sees, and takes you into realm of the extraordinary?

Perhaps you dream of traveling to remote and once-forbidden lands, following in the footsteps of great explorers and conquerors like Alexander the Great, Tamerlane, and Genghis Khan on a cross-cultural journey through China, Mongolia, and along the legendary Silk Route?

Sharing a moment in Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher
Mongolia's centuries-old desert mode of transportation. Photo credit: Andrew Barron
MIR’s founder and president, Douglas Grimes, takes time every year to personally scout our destinations; here, he’s pictured chatting with a local market vendor in Kashgar, China. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes
MIR travelers pose in front of the iconic Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Photo credit: Phil Kidd
The campfire never goes out for tenters at Turkmenistan's Darvaza Gas Crater. Photo credit: Russ & Ellen Cmolik
  • Sharing a moment in Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher Sharing a moment in Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher
  • Mongolia's centuries-old desert mode of transportation. Photo credit: Andrew Barron Mongolia’s centuries-old desert mode of transportation. Photo credit: Andrew Barron
  • MIR’s founder and president, Douglas Grimes, takes time every year to personally scout our destinations; here, he’s pictured chatting with a local market vendor in Kashgar, China. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes MIR’s founder and president, Douglas Grimes, takes time every year to personally scout our destinations; here, he’s pictured chatting with a local market vendor in Kashgar, China. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes
  • MIR travelers pose in front of the iconic Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Photo credit: Phil Kidd MIR travelers pose in front of the iconic Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Photo credit: Phil Kidd
  • The campfire never goes out for tenters at Turkmenistan's Darvaza Gas Crater. Photo credit: Russ & Ellen Cmolik The campfire never goes out for tenters at Turkmenistan’s Darvaza Gas Crater. Photo credit: Russ & Ellen Cmolik

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Maybe you want to plan the ultimate family journey with your children and grandchildren: getting in touch with your family roots, introducing everyone to new cultures and new perspectives through visits to far-off villages and homes, and creating enriching and transformative travel memories to cherish for years to come?

Or have you always imagined exploring stunning landscapes a world away from the everyday, hiking through the rugged mountains of the Caucasus, flying high over the volcanoes and geysers of the Kamchatka Peninsula, or admiring the great expanse of the Gobi from a nomad’s ger?

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Make Your Dream Trip Come Alive

Journeys of a lifetime like these often require careful planning, an insider’s regional knowledge and on-the-ground connections, and the time and energy to troubleshoot all the particulars from arranging convenient hotels and transportation, to navigating the sometimes tricky requirements for visas and border crossings.

You need someone to get you started on the right foot — that’s where MIR comes in. Our knowledgeable team of Custom & Private Journeys Specialists have the drive and dedication to take your travel plans, however lofty or logistically complex, and put them in motion. Backed by our decades of destination expertise and the determination to take on virtually any travel challenge, we can help you dream it and do it all on your terms.

Meeting with a classroom of schoolchildren in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
Meeting with a classroom of schoolchildren in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik

We offer two fantastic ways to explore the treasures of our destinations on your terms:

1. Thoughtfully Handcrafted Custom Private Journeys


Create your own completely customized journey from the ground up with MIR’s expert assistance.

A MIR custom private journey is the perfect choice for travelers who want the advantages of traveling alone — flexibility and privacy — but who also value the security and comfort of knowing that capable guides and drivers have been selected, accommodations are waiting at the end of the day, and transportation to the next town or country is already arranged.

Travelers can see iconic sights — such as Lhasa’s famous Potala Palace in Tibet — on any of MIR’s Flexible Essential itineraries. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
Travelers can see iconic sights — such as Lhasa’s famous Potala Palace in Tibet — on any of MIR’s Flexible Essential itineraries. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik

Beyond the Basics

When you book a custom, private journey with MIR, you’ll work directly with a tour specialist who’ll guide you through the planning process from start to finish — from deciding the destinations and daily activities, to recommending the best route and transportation options for your journey.

Friendly smiles greet travelers in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Ana Filonov
A MIR traveler learns how to bake bread in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
Chatting with Mongolian kids in the Gobi. Photo credit: Lori Linthicum
Enjoy Russian hospitality and traditional foods while dining at a dacha. Photo credit: Alfiya Izmailova
A MIR traveler shows local kids how to high-five. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
  • Friendly smiles greet travelers in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Ana Filonov Friendly smiles greet travelers in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Ana Filonov
  • A MIR traveler learns how to bake bread in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik A MIR traveler learns how to bake bread in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
  • Chatting with Mongolian kids in the Gobi. Photo credit: Lori Linthicum Chatting with Mongolian kids in the Gobi. Photo credit: Lori Linthicum
  • Enjoy Russian hospitality and traditional foods while dining at a dacha. Photo credit: Alfiya Izmailova Enjoy Russian hospitality and traditional foods while dining at a dacha. Photo credit: Alfiya Izmailova
  • A MIR traveler shows local kids how to high-five. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik A MIR traveler shows local kids how to high-five. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik

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In addition to lodging, excursions, and transportation, we’ll also help you navigate your visa, international airfare, and travel insurance needs. When you work with MIR, you have the full support of our Seattle-based and in-country operations teams, the full benefit of our knowledge and expertise, and our full dedication towards helping you get exactly what you want out of your private journey.

Your Trip, Your Dates, Your Signature Experience

We’ve helped thousands of travelers craft unique and well-planned itineraries to our chosen corner of the globe, handling everything from creative culinary tours to multi-day hiking and camping expeditions, and from cross-country driving journeys to unforgettable ancestry tours that have connected families on an even deeper level to their heritage.

An American family meets the Polish family that hid their grandparents during WWII. Photo Credit: Karen Treiger
A MIR traveler shares an H20 Balkan adventure with his grandchildren. Photo credit: Iris Adventures
Making juicy Georgian meat dumplings, khinkali. Photo credit: Kees Sprengers
Siberia’s Great Baikal Trail is a hiking lesson in ecology and the environment. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin
MIR’s Flexible Essential Private Journeys can be custom-tailored to fit your preferences, whether traveling solo or with your family. Photo credit: Phil Kidd
  • An American family meets the Polish family that hid their grandparents during WWII. Photo Credit: Karen Treiger An American family meets the Polish family that hid their grandparents during WWII. Photo Credit: Karen Treiger
  • A MIR traveler shares an H20 Balkan adventure with his grandchildren. Photo credit: Iris Adventures A MIR traveler shares an H20 Balkan adventure with his grandchildren. Photo credit: Iris Adventures
  • Making juicy Georgian meat dumplings, khinkali. Photo credit: Kees Sprengers Making juicy Georgian meat dumplings, khinkali. Photo credit: Kees Sprengers
  • Siberia’s Great Baikal Trail is a hiking lesson in ecology and the environment. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin Siberia’s Great Baikal Trail is a hiking lesson in ecology and the environment. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin
  • MIR’s Flexible Essential Private Journeys can be custom-tailored to fit your preferences, whether traveling solo or with your family. Photo credit: Phil Kidd MIR’s Flexible Essential Private Journeys can be custom-tailored to fit your preferences, whether traveling solo or with your family. Photo credit: Phil Kidd

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We go above and beyond to design one-of-a-kind trips tailored to your specific interests — not only focusing on the classic sights in our destinations, but also adding enriching and authentic opportunities that open our travelers to the fascinating cultural traditions and warm-hearted people of our region.

Some Travel Ideas

On a MIR custom private journey, we can offer you an exclusive opportunity to go far from the familiar and:

  • Celebrate New Year’s in St. Petersburg, Russia, enjoying a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, attending the classic Nutcracker ballet performed on one of Russia’s world-class stages, and sampling Russian zakuski, or appetizers, at a nobleman’s fireside.
  • Discover your family heritage, visiting the villages, towns, and cities where your ancestors grew up, finding the graves of your great-grandparents, or tracking down living relatives in PolandUkraineCentral Europe, and other settlements “beyond the Pale.”
  • Journey to the back of beyond in Mongolia’s great Gobi Desert, sleeping under the stars in a traditional nomadic ger, and learning firsthand about the dinosaurs that once roamed this legendary land.
  • Uncover the ancient secrets of Silk Road crafts through exclusive visits to private studios and workshops, learning about hand-painted silks, the wonderful embroidered Uzbek suzani, and Kyrgyz felted rugs.
  • Experience an unforgettable Siberian winter adventure with your family, dogsledding across the clear ice of Lake Baikal, ice-fishing for the endemic omul, and hovercrafting to the Bronze Age petroglyphs of Sagan-Zaba and sacred Olkhon Island.
  • Set off in search of outdoor thrills on an active adventure in the Balkans, hiking, rafting, kayaking, and even zip-lining your way through CroatiaBosnia & HerzegovinaSlovakia, and beyond.
  • Savor the creative culinary and winemaking traditions of the South Caucasus, learning to make local specialties like juicy Georgian khinkali dumplings or the savory stuffed tolma of Armenia in a village home, and tasting the region’s acclaimed natural and organic wines.
  • Traverse the furthest reaches of our destinations on an epic overland expedition, driving from the ever-changing face of China across the gorgeous rolling steppe of Mongolia, through the charming towns and villages of Siberia, and to historic cities like Samarkand, Tbilisi, Kiev, and Moscow.
MIR has helped numerous travelers reconnect with their roots, including the Treiger family, pictured here. Photo credit: Grzegorz Maleszewski
Spend the night in a ger in the South Gobi Desert. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta
Visit the ceramics workshop of the Narzulaev family, some of the most renowned ceramicists in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher
Sipping iced vodka through straws, Baikal style. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes
Dancers take their final bows at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels
A pair of sea kayakers cruise the Podstrana Bay in Split, Croatia. Photo credit: Iris Adventures
Posing with the goods at Pheasant's Tears Winery in Georgia. Photo credit: Mariana Noble
This Land Rover expedition makes a stop in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes
  • MIR has helped numerous travelers reconnect with their roots, including the Treiger family, pictured here. Photo credit: Grzegorz Maleszewski MIR has helped numerous travelers reconnect with their roots, including the Treiger family, pictured here. Photo credit: Grzegorz Maleszewski
  • Spend the night in a ger in the South Gobi Desert. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta Spend the night in a ger in the South Gobi Desert. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta
  • Visit the ceramics workshop of the Narzulaev family, some of the most renowned ceramicists in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher Visit the ceramics workshop of the Narzulaev family, some of the most renowned ceramicists in Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Lindsay Fincher
  • Sipping iced vodka through straws, Baikal style. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes Sipping iced vodka through straws, Baikal style. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes
  • Dancers take their final bows at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels Dancers take their final bows at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo credit: Meaghan Samuels
  • A pair of sea kayakers cruise the Podstrana Bay in Split, Croatia. Photo credit: Iris Adventures A pair of sea kayakers cruise the Podstrana Bay in Split, Croatia. Photo credit: Iris Adventures
  • Posing with the goods at Pheasant's Tears Winery in Georgia. Photo credit: Mariana Noble Posing with the goods at Pheasant’s Tears Winery in Georgia. Photo credit: Mariana Noble
  • This Land Rover expedition makes a stop in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes This Land Rover expedition makes a stop in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

2. Researched & Ready-to-Go Flexible Essential trips


Prefer that we suggest an itinerary to get you started, or just want a pre-planned, pre-packaged travel option that’s ready to go when you need it? Then select one of our “Flexible Essential” trips – readymade itineraries available on a private basis with your choice of dates and accommodation levels.

A lake of superlatives: Baikal is the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin
A lake of superlatives: Baikal is the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

Your Travel Essentials

With our Flexible Essential itineraries, you get the freedom of traveling on your own, without the stress of making and troubleshooting all the arrangements — we’ve already done the legwork required of a completely customized journey on your behalf. 

Old Believer’s vivid home and costume. Photo credit: Devin Connolly
Sipping tea with a nomadic steppe family in their ger. Photo credit: Kelly Tissier
Savoring wine straight from the source in Georgian wine country. Photo credit: Norman Leaper
A MIR traveler makes friends at the historic Shah-i-Zinda complex in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar
Designs on Romanian wooden and real hollowed-out eggs were once secret languages of local residents. Photo credit: John Baker
  • Old Believer’s vivid home and costume. Photo credit: Devin Connolly Old Believer’s vivid home and costume. Photo credit: Devin Connolly
  • Sipping tea with a nomadic steppe family in their ger. Photo credit: Kelly Tissier Sipping tea with a nomadic steppe family in their ger. Photo credit: Kelly Tissier
  • Savoring wine straight from the source in Georgian wine country. Photo credit: Norman Leaper Savoring wine straight from the source in Georgian wine country. Photo credit: Norman Leaper
  • A MIR traveler makes friends at the historic Shah-i-Zinda complex in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar A MIR traveler makes friends at the historic Shah-i-Zinda complex in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo credit: Michel Behar
  • Designs on Romanian wooden and real hollowed-out eggs were once secret languages of local residents. Photo credit: John Baker Designs on Romanian wooden and real hollowed-out eggs were once secret languages of local residents. Photo credit: John Baker

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MIR’s Flexible Essential itineraries showcase all the essential highlights of a country or region on a brief, compact tour with many of the same inclusions featured on our escorted Small Group Tours. They’re perfect for those who want to travel privately but don’t know where to start, or for those looking for an effortless extension to another tour.

Your Custom Comforts

On every Flexible Essential itinerary, you’ll be met on arrival and seen off at the end of your trip; in-country transportation will be pre-arranged; your lodging will be pre-booked; and while traveling, your own private, expert local guide(s) will ensure that you and your companions get the most out of your visit.

A MIR traveler learns how to make a traditional felt rug in Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
Meeting with local villagers in Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
Be prepared for a toast at Central Asian meals: thanking the host, a funny story, good wishes for good health. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes
Strike a pose! MIR travelers pause for a photo op with the skilled horseback riders of Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
Travelers are treated as honored guests in Uzbek homes; here, an Uzbek hostess offers a special pot and basin so guests may wash their hands before the meal. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
  • A MIR traveler learns how to make a traditional felt rug in Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik A MIR traveler learns how to make a traditional felt rug in Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
  • Meeting with local villagers in Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik Meeting with local villagers in Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
  • Be prepared for a toast at Central Asian meals: thanking the host, a funny story, good wishes for good health. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes Be prepared for a toast at Central Asian meals: thanking the host, a funny story, good wishes for good health. Photo credit: Douglas Grimes
  • Strike a pose! MIR travelers pause for a photo op with the skilled horseback riders of Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik Strike a pose! MIR travelers pause for a photo op with the skilled horseback riders of Kyrgyzstan. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik
  • Travelers are treated as honored guests in Uzbek homes; here, an Uzbek hostess offers a special pot and basin so guests may wash their hands before the meal. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik Travelers are treated as honored guests in Uzbek homes; here, an Uzbek hostess offers a special pot and basin so guests may wash their hands before the meal. Photo credit: Russ Cmolik & Ellen Cmolik

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When you book a Flexible Essential Private Journey with us, a dedicated MIR travel specialist will oversee all the details of your trip, answering your questions and providing customized suggestions, visa guidance, and air tickets from our in-house agency, as desired.

Shake It Up!

Found an itinerary you like, but want to add extras like reservations at a top-notch restaurant, or a chance to witness a unique local ceremony? Maybe you just want to arrange for an extra day or two in a city that piques your travel fancy? No problem — we can take any Flexible Essential program and tailor it to meet your needs.

Enjoy the breeze and the beauty on a cruise of the Neva River and St. Petersburg’s famous canals. Photo credit: Alfiya Izmailova
Enjoy the breeze and the beauty on a cruise of the Neva River and St. Petersburg’s famous canals. Photo credit: Alfiya Izmailova

There’s lots of Flexible Essential itineraries to choose from – use our Trip Finder to choose the one best fit for you.

Ready to Get Started? Here are 4 Easy Steps to Design the Personalized, Private Journey of Your Dreams with MIR

Custom travel doesn’t have to be complicated. Once you have an idea in mind for a personalized, private journey of your own:

1. Consult

Contact our Private Journeys Specialists and tell us what your dream is for this trip: where you want to go, what type of accommodations you’re looking for, what you especially want to see or do. Your personal travel specialist will listen, ask questions, and make creative suggestions.

2. Create

In collaboration with you, we’ll design an itinerary that suits your personal travel goals, budget, and style. We can either suggest one of our Flexible Essential itineraries to start with and fine-tune to fit your preferences, or custom-craft a signature adventure from the ground up. Then, we’ll send it off for your review and feedback.

3. Coordinate

Once you’re ready to reserve your trip, send in the required reservation form and non-refundable deposit. We’ll book all of your arrangements and send you a full confirmation packet with lots of information to help you prepare and pack for your trip.

4. Commence

Escape the everyday, and dive into your destination — with in-country transportation, lodging, knowledgeable local guides, and private drivers ready and waiting.

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MIR has been handling the ins and outs and special requests of personalized travel in our destinations for more than 30 years. With MIR affiliate offices in Western RussiaSiberiaUzbekistanUkraine, and Georgia we can assure you of an on-the-ground partner possessing some of the most extensive travel and tourism experience in the region, as well as an unmatched ability to plan fascinating and unusual itineraries.

To schedule your own adventure in any of MIR’s destinations, contact our Private Journey Specialists with a list of things you’ve always wanted to do, see, or experience; or send us your thoughts using our easy Custom Travel Inquiry Form.

Need fresh ideas to inspire your wanderlust? In addition to browsing the pages of our free catalog you can narrow down your choices online using our Trip Finder and the Destination Map.

PUBLISHED: May 4, 2020


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