Days 1-4. Arrive Beijing
Well be counting down to Christmas in Beijing at the start of the tour. Visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Lama Temple, and the Hutongs all without the maddening crowds. Head out to see the Ming Tombs, and see the Great Wall in a whole new light as you climb its snow-capped turrets.
Our cosy train waits to take us north across the Gobi Desert, to Ulaanbaatar - Mongolia's Capital.
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. Mongolian Winter and to Siberia
We head for the countryside to spend time in warm traditional gers, set among spectacular rock formations and wild rolling snow-covered hills in the Terelj National Park. In 13th Century National Park we will warm ourselves by the pot belly stoves as we learn about the fascinating nomadic culture, before returning to the capital to rejoin the Trans Mongolian Railway bound for Siberia.
Day 9. Aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway
Days 10-11. Christmas in Siberia
The picturesque village of Listvyanka right in the heart of a Siberian winter wonderland is waiting to welcome us. Here, beside the shores of the vast Lake Baikal which is probably frozen thick to almost two metres by this time, we prepare to celebrate Christmas with traditional Russian dishes, a shot or two of vodka to warm the cockles of the heart, and a traditional troika ride (horse sleigh).
On Boxing Day, we bid farewell and travel to Irkutsk to see its historic time-worn mansions from the days when Russian and Polish exiles were banished from here, far from Moscow.
Days 12-14. Trans Siberian Railway to Moscow
Days 15 – 19. Moscow & to St. Petersburg
At this time of year Moscow is like a page from a fairytale, as we'll see on our tour with the famous Red Square ablaze with bright festive lights and the splendid twirled cupolas of St. Basil's Cathedral dusted in snow, while the imposing face of the Kremlin looks on. Inside the Kremlin walls we see the Armoury Chamber and two beautiful cathedrals. We'll be in Red Square as the Kremlin clock strikes 12 on New Year's Eve. This is sure to be a New Year celebration to remember for a long time to come!
After more sightseeing, we'll board an overnight train for St. Petersburg.
Days 20-24. St. Petersburg
In the clear winter days the pastel palaces and frozen canals convey a special charm with their white frosting. We visit St. Issac's Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress and the magnificent Peterhof, not forgetting the Hermitage Museum; and Catherine's Palace and Park on our Pushkin tour. Our journey concludes with a gala dinner and show. What a way to celebrate Christmas and New Year!