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
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
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
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.
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.
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
The journey is complete; a brilliant
and unforgettable experience along one of the world's greatest rail journeys.