Rodney Russ -  Founder

Rodney RussWith a family name like Russ, it’s possible that Rodney may be able to claim Russian ancestry. He has only traced his forebears to England so far, but there could well be a family connection as he has always felt a strong affinity for Russia, its history, its people and its land. Rodney is a New Zealand born biologist, who through a series of unlikely events and coincidences ended up chartering a Russian research vessel in 1993 for his travel company Heritage Expeditions. Heritage Expeditions still has that vessel and Rodney's relationship with Russia and the many Russians he has met during years of working with them have he says been very enriching. In 2006 Heritage Expeditions pioneered a series of expedition cruises to the Russian Far East which have grown in popularity as others have discovered   the joy of exploring this part of the country. Rodney has made many private expeditions to some of the most remote parts of Russia, and his response to many people asking him how they can arrange similar trips is to found Just Russia Travel. This company is the ideal way to put his great knowledge of Russia to work and shows his passion for adventure travel in some of it’s most remote places.

Natalia Teplova - General Manager

Natalia TeplovaWith a great passion for the outdoors and an enthusiasm to share this with others, Natalia joined the Heritage Expeditions in 2009. Originally from Latvia, Natalia is multi-lingual, speaking both English and Russian fluently. On a day to day basis she has been involved in operations and logistics of their Russian flagged vessel, including untangling Russia's complex documentation. It was here that she practiced and honed her negotiations skills and travelled throughout the Russian Far East. Her love of travel, fluent Russian and business acumen makes her the perfect Manager for Just Russia Travel.


Ekaterina (Katya) Saliaeva - Russian Consultant

Katya Saliaeva

Katya calls the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East home. Although she was born in St Petersburg, a military posting for her father saw the family move to Vladivostok when she was just three years old. She excelled in English at school and graduated from the Far Eastern State University as an English teacher in 2008. During her time at university she took the opportunity to spend four months in the USA on a ‘Work and Travel’ programme and really enjoyed the experience and the chance to perfect her English. After graduation Katya spent two years working for a telecommunications company in Vladivostok and also worked as a translator for Heritage Expeditions founder Rodney Russ on his frequent visits to Russia. In time she began working exclusively for Heritage Expeditions and joined the expedition team on board the ‘Professor Khromov’ for a voyage from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy to Anadyr. During this voyage she visited the gravesite of Vitus Bering on the Commander Islands which she recalls as being particularly impressive and memorable. In 2010 Katya relocated to Christchurch, New Zealand where she continued to work for Heritage Expeditions, translating and processing visas and permits for voyages. Although now resident in New Zealand, she remains a passionate advocate for her homeland and really enjoys introducing visitors to the many faces of Russia.

Mikhail (Misha) Rybochkin

Mikhail RybochkinMisha was born and still resides in the city of Ul’yanovsk on the banks of the Volga River and famous as the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin. He studied English and Spanish in Moscow before spending four years in the Soviet Army. Upon leaving the military he worked as a translator in Iran and China during the construction of nuclear power plants and then moved to England where he continued to work as a translator and driver. His introduction to tourism was working for the ‘Intourist’ travel company and a Volga River boat guide.
When the opportunity arose for Misha to travel by icebreaker from Norway to Franz Josef Land guiding tourists from Austria and Germany he seized the chance, and later travelled by yacht from Lisbon to the Canary Islands. A passion for travel saw him climb Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Elbrus and even skydive to the top of Mt Elbrus. From 1993 to 2002 Misha also took part in the organization and execution of a number of skydiving, skiing and mountaineering expeditions around the North Pole.
He has travelled North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Antarctica, mostly by car and now travels extensively throughout Russia wherever the roads will take him. In this way Misha has visited most regions of the Russian Federation and really enjoys introducing visitors to the real Russia.