Day 1. Arrive Beijing
Beijing will prove unforgettable, all senses assailed - colour and sound, smell and taste - leaving indelible memories of continual contrast, history and tradition alongside 20th century technology.
Days 2 - 3. Beijing
Our sightseeing takes us to the magnificent Lama Temple, Tiananmen Square and Mao's Mausoleum. Set in beautiful parklands we discover the fascinating history and significance of the serene Temple of Heaven and later we tour one of Beijing’s traditional hutong neighbourhoods dating from the Yuan Dynasty. Our sightseeing continues with an excursion to the Great Wall. Built to defend the civilised world from the fierce and capable Mongol horsemen, the Wall stretches 10,000 Li across China's mountainous northern frontier.
Day 4. Aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway
Excitement and anticipation as we leave to board the Ulaanbaatar Express. On board we quickly settle in and enjoy meandering scenery as the train tackles the mountains before descending to the arid lands of Inner Mongolia and onwards to the very heart of Asia.
Day 5. Arrive Ulaanbaatar
You awake to the stunning visual silence of the south Gobi, the horse and ger dotted steppe stretches from horizon to horizon, the occasional nomad encampment appears mirage-like through the carriage window. Mid afternoon we arrive in the world's most remote capital - Ulaanbaatar.
Days 6 - 8. To Terelj National Park & 13th Century National Park
This morning we visit the Gandan Hiid Monastery, which gives an insight into the lives of Buddhist Mongolians. The Mongolia of Genghis Khan lies beyond the city, from Ulaanbaatar we travel through the countryside to spend time in traditional Mongolian gers, set amongst spectacular rock formations and wild rolling snow-covered hills in Terelj & 13th Century National Parks, a living museum that provides a glimpse of life as an ancient Mongol during the time of Genghis Khan.
We get to enjoy the comforts of snug, wood fire heated gers before venturing back to the capital on Day 8.
Days 9-10. Ulaanbaatar and depart to Irkutsk
We have the most part of the day to ourselves to explore the city. This evening we depart aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway heading North to Siberia.
North across the steppe and through the mountains, following the valley of the Selenge River to the Russian frontier and the very heartland of Siberia, Irkutsk.
Days 11-12. Arrive Irkutsk (Siberia)and to Lake Baikal
We transfer to Lake Baikal and the village of Listvyanka visiting the Museum of Wooden Architecture and the Limnological Museum en route. Our guesthouse host is waiting to greet us and we spend a relaxing two nights in this beautiful lakeside village. Whist here we visit a picturesque spot for a sleigh ride - a classic Siberian winter experience!
Days 13-14. Return to Irkutsk and onto Moscow
Old buildings and timeworn mansions lend a beauty to this remote but flourishing city, sometimes called "The Paris of Siberia". Founded over 350 years ago, it prospered as a market town on the ‘Tea Route’ between China and Europe. Irkutsk today is proud of its place in Russian history, and is always a highlight of any Trans Mongolian rail journey.
Returning to the station early morning on Day 14 we meet our train bound for Moscow.
Days 14-16. Aboard the Trans Siberian Railway
Life on board is a great social occasion for our Russian hosts and we have the opportunity to celebrate the holiday season with them - what better place to be than on this famous train in the heart of a snowy wonderland!
We travel via Novosibirsk, Omsk and Ekaterinburg booming over the steel bridges spanning Siberia's nerve system of 5,000 rivers. Through the Ural Mountains and, on the far side of the Volga, the expanse of snow, flickering silvers and greens of the birch forests speed past. On past its suburbs and into the heart of Moscow the train arrives almost casually on time.
Days 17 – 20. Moscow
Beneath the city lies the palatial metro rail system draped in chandeliers, mosaics and baroque bas- reliefs while the vast Cathedral of Christ the Saviour again dominates Moscow's skyline. The echoing vastness of Red Square, the splendid twirled cupolas of St. Basil's. The Kremlin itself - the fabled palace-fort of gilded domes where we marvel at the exquisite collection of royal treasures in the stunning Armoury Chamber; the Cathedral of the Assumption where Tsars were crowned, the Bell Tower and the Faberge jewels and icons. The perfect setting to ring in the New Year!
Days 21-23. St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is a unique treasure house of 18th century architecture and the city that best displays the Russian genius for museums. The gilded rooms of the former Winter Palace, now the Hermitage Museum, are hung with the works of a hundred great masters. Our fabulous journey concludes with a gala dinner.
Day 24. Depart St. Petersburg
The journey is complete; a brilliant and unforgettable experience along one of the world's greatest rail journeys.