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. Shortly after midday we arrive in the world's most remote capital - Ulaanbaatar.
Days 6 - 7. To Terelj 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, in the land of the nomad. In the afternoon we travel to the countryside retreat of Terelj National Park for a two night stay in a ger - the traditional home of the Mongolian people. Our ger camp is set amid stunning alpine scenery and we enjoy all that the area has to offer. We visit a local family and experience the true nomadic lifestyle.
Days 8 - 9 . 13th Century National Park and return to Ulaanbaatar
We venture out to the 13th Century National Park, a stunning snowscape on the Steppe and home to the giant statue of one of history’s most infamous conquerors, Genghis Khan. Again we get to enjoy the comforts of snug, wood fire heated gers before venturing back to the capital on day 9.
Days 10. Ulaanbaatar and depart to Irkutsk
Today we visit Sukhbaatar Square and the National History Museum which reveals the remarkable and unique history of Mongolia. We have the afternoon to ourselves to explore the city and this evening we depart aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway heading Northto Siberia.
Day 11. Aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway
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.
Day 12. Arrive Irkutsk (Siberia) CHRISTMAS DAY
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. We enjoy a celebratory Xmas lunch with our fellow travellers and ponder our location – said to be the very centre of the Asian continent.
Day 13. To Lake Baikal
We transfer to Lake Baikal and the village of Listvyanka. Our guesthouse host is waiting to greet us and we spend two relaxing evenings in this beautiful lakeside village. We visit a picturesque spot for a sleigh ride - a classic Siberian winter experience!
Day 14. Return to Irkutsk and depart to Moscow
We return to Irkutsk and a chance to explore the city before we board the train for the journey to Moscow. 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!
Days 15 - 16. Aboard the Trans Siberian Railway
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 – 21. 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. On Day 18 we get to enjoy New Years Eve in this most fascinating world city and may choose to welcome in the following year in Red Square itself.
Days 22-23. 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.