About Sokol Tours \ Our Team
Sokol Tours is operated by an international team with a great depth of experience gained from traveling and working in Russia, Mongolia, Central Asian and China. We believe in the potential of this part of the world as a tourist destination and are prepared to show you the often-overlooked travel opportunities. Each of us brings to Sokol expertise not only in specific regions, but in specific interests from art and music to history, geology, biology, and more.
The Sokol Tours Team
Artour Yatchenko, Director, Sokol Tours, the USA office
Artour grew up in USSR, in the small village in the region that shares a border with China along the Amur river. After high school (1987), he was admitted to study at Moscow State University. In 1988, Artour was called for military service in the USSR army in East Germany. After the service, Artour returned to the University, and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Geotechnical Engineering with an emphasis on Environmental Studies. After graduation, he joined the travel and education firm to assist western travelers and students coming to Russia. After many years in the industry, Artour admits that traveling in Russia can be challenging, but worth it, because it always turns into a true lifetime experience. There is just so much to see, from the untouched lands in the Russian Arctic to bustling Moscow. Dont miss the chance to "taste" one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world, and the opportunity to do what you cannot do at home.
Evgenia Arbatskaya, Travel Consultant, Irkutsk, Russia
Evgenia (or Zhenia) was born and grew up in Irkutsk city, located in Eastern Siberia, Russia. She can be rightfully called a native Siberian or Siberyachka (in Russian). Many people say that if you are born in Siberia, it becomes a part of your soul despite the harsh winters and dominating nature. Zenia is a perfect representative of this mixture and she would be glad to show you how harshness and harmony of Siberia can complement each other and leave you with unforgettable memories. In college Evgenia dedicated her time to Romance languages at the local Linguistic University as well as piano. Today she can communicate with you in English, Spanish and elementary German as well as navigate basic cultural differences that she learned during her visits to several eastern and western European countries. Do not hesitate to contact Zhenia if you are planning to be or already are in Irkutsk. She is always there for you and ready to arrange a city tour, and visits to Lake Baikal or Mongolia.
Sophia Shatueva, Travel Consultant, Ulan-Ude, Russia
Sophia (or Sonya) was born and grew up in the industrial city of Krasnoyarsk, located in Eastern Siberia. After high school, she decided to move to Ulan-Ude city (Buryat Republic) to study English and Chinese at the Buryat State University. It is there where she met her husband. She decided to settle here for good, appreciating the city's rich history, culture and ethnic diversity, where Buryat, Russians, Mongolians, and Old believers live in harmony and peace. Despite Sonya's young age, she has already visited China, Mongolia, Turkey, and the USA. Being only a few hours from Mongolia, which has strong cultural ties with the Buryat people, Sophia believes that traveling to Mongolia without stopping in Ulan-Ude (or otherwise) is an incomplete journey. She invites everybody to experience Buddhist Russia located in the heart of Siberia. Sonya is a big fan of dogs. She loves to travel, dance and exercise. And of course Lake Baikal...as Sonya says: "it is my #1 getaway for a day or two at any time of the year".
Natalia Svobodova, Travel Consultant, St. Petersburg, Russia
Right after Natasha earned a degree in English (1987), she began her career in the travel industry passionately convinced that there is a story to every brick in her city. Among Natasha's favorite sites are the embankments of the Neva and Moika rivers, the Summer Gardens and Catherine's canal near St. Nickolas Cathedral, Basil Island and all summer Emperor residences. When it comes to work, Natasha is always the first to help while not forgetting about the world and her hobbies. She has extensively traveled throughout Europe, Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus, Caucasus, Central and Northern Russia. If there is a free minute, she dedicates it to art and history, landscape architecture, gardening, and as she puts it..."of course some sports: skiing in winter and swimming in summer".
Julia Prokonich, Travel Partner, Vladivostok, Russia
Julia can be rightfully called a citizen of the World. She was born in Leninabad (presently Houdjent) in Tadjikistan at the end of the Soviet empire, and spent her first 5 years there. Her family then moved to Vladivostok for good. This is where Julia spent most of her teenage and student life. Her hard work in high school was awarded with an admission to study business at the prestigious Far Eastern University in Vladivostok. During her studies and after, Julia had the chance to travel and study abroad extensively. She spent a summer in London and visited the USA twice as an exchange student, first in California and later in Chicago. While in the US, Julia did not waste her time and visited Mexico, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and the Hershey chocolate factory during Christmas, which she calls now a true paradise for children! She has also visited China, South Korea, Egypt, and much of Central Asia. Julia invites everybody to visit Vladivostok city to experience unique mixture of Asian and European cultures. Either you are on the way to or from Asia, interested in military history, or starting the Trans-Siberian journey, you can count on Julia. She is fluent in English, and speaks some French and Spanish. Skiing and theater are among her favorite things to do for fun.
Daniel Li, Travel Partner, Beijing, China
Daniel was born and raised in the "garden" city of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, about 2 hours away from Shanghai city. Studying foreign language was a priority and passion for Daniel throughout his middle and high school years. In the early 1980s, he successfully passed his exams and was admitted to the Nanjing Foreign Language Institute for English studies. After college (1984), Daniel was assigned to teach English at the Guangzhou Navy school for 4 years. Over time he missed his hometown and upon returning, immediately joined one of the leading local travel agencies. A few years in the industry inspired him for new challenges. In 1994, he moved to Beijing city to continue his travel career in the vibrant capital. He started as a division manager at one of the leading agencies and quickly moved to the position of managing director. Travel, reading and Internet surfing are among Daniel's favorite things to do when he has free time. He has visited Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Iran. When it comes to work, Daniels's slogan is: "we no longer just satisfy our valued customers, we must totally impress them.”
Alexander Petrov, Travel Partner, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Alexander is a country man. He was born and raised in the small village Dzirim in Khakass Republic located in Eastern Siberia, Russia. Right after high school, Alexander decided to dedicate his professional career to sports. He was accepted to study at the Community College for Sports and Physical Culture in Novosibirsk city (Russia). After graduation, Alexander decided to continue his education at the Teacher's College in Almaty (Kazakhstan), where he received a BA degree in Geography. During his student years in Almaty, he fell in love with the city, people and decided to stay in Kazakhstan for good. Passion for nature, travel and photography brought Alexander into the travel industry. He has extensively traveled throughout Russia, Central Asia, China, and Eastern / Western Europe. Alexander is fluent in Russian, good with English, and speaks some German. Together with his lovely family, Alexander invites you to Kazakhstan, the country of contrasts and beautiful culture.
Tynara Kudasheva, Travel Partner, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Tynara was born in Frunze city (now Bishkek), Kyrgyzstan. She studied Arabic philosophy at Tashkent State University (Uzbekistan), speaks fluently in Russian, Kyrgyz, English, and intermediate Arabic. Tynara is a good diplomat, realist, and problem solver. She will make you forget that Central Asia today is a mosaic of newly Independent States separated by a complex system of border and visa regimes. Tynara’s approach is simple. Politics is politics, but business is business. After many years in the travel industry, she recently opened her own travel agency with the understanding that Central Asia is a conglomerate of different ethnic groups, yet cemented by the same culture and history. With this philosophy, Tynara has no problems keeping tight relations with her friends in Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and China. Tynara also has friends in the western hemisphere. She has traveled throughout the USA, Western Europe and Russia. The combination of her educational achievements, her travel experience, philosophy and the knowledge of how to get things done in Central Asia, makes Tynara an ideal candidate for your smooth connection to the East.
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