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Naadam is the one and only Big Event in Mongolia – a spectacularly colourful national festival, held every year. Naadam literally means ‘three manly games’. Known as the world’s second oldest Olympics, it celebrates what defined civilisation in the Steppes eight centuries ago: archery, wrestling and horse-riding.
Arrive to Moscow, where you are met and transferred to the stylish five-star Four Seasons Moscow. Located in the historic building of Moskva Hotel and occupying one of the most enviable addresses in the very heart of Moscow, the hotel is a short walk from the Kremlin, Red Square and the Bolshoi Theatre. We enjoy a welcome reception dinner at our hotel, whilst you meet your fellow travellers and anticipate the epic 13 day voyage that lies ahead.
Our touring programme of Moscow principally takes us to the grandeur of the Kremlin – the spiritual, historical and political heart of Moscow – and to see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber. We will enjoy an exclusive private viewing before it opens to the public before, visiting Red Square. This iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, such as the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful façade of the world famous GUM department store which was constructed in Tsarist times, is also the sombre and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb. We will have lunch in Café Pushkin, a legendary Moscow restaurant with a décor that revives the atmosphere of an early 19th century mansion and serves traditional Russian cuisine and end the day with a tour of the opulent and unique stations of the Moscow metro – showpieces of Socialist art furnished with statues, frescoes and mosaics, unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
If you have been to Moscow before we offer included Freedom of Choice touring options where we show you other sights of Moscow such as the famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art) or the Space Museum.
Upon arrival at Moscow Kazansky Station, you will be greeted in the magnificent Imperial Waiting Room with a cold glass of Russian Champagne and canapes as you mix with the other guests and are welcomed by the train staff. The excitement in the waiting room audibly mounts and, 30 minutes before departure, your car attendants will escort you to Platform 1 where a military brass band is playing and the Golden Eagle awaits.
Situated on the River Volga, the picturesque and historic city of Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan. One of the highlights of this city tour is our exploration of the Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As Kazan is the birthplace of one of Russia’s most famous opera singers, Feodor Chaliapin we honour his memory with a private concert of his music.
Founded in 1723 by Peter the Great, Ekaterinburg, is the capital of the Urals. Our city tour takes us to the poignant site where the Romanov, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, was executed with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Now a church dedicated to their memory, this site provides us with a powerful insight into the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. (Freedom of Choice touring options available)
A modern ‘Soviet’ city, we experience the life and character of Novosibirsk’s rich culture where the arts and science predominate. Our city tour takes us to Lenin Square where the imposing Opera House is located. An architectural marvel, it houses two permanent ballet and opera companies and is one of the largest opera houses in the world. In front of the Opera House, we visit an impressive statue of Lenin – a marvelous opportunity to have your photograph taken with this iconic political leader. (Freedom of Choice touring options available)
A day to unwind and reflect on the many sights and sounds we have experienced on our journey so far. Chat to your fellow passengers, perhaps learn a few words of Russian or simply enjoy the ever changing landscape outside your window as it unfolds.
Our visit to Irkutsk, the ‘Paris of Siberia’, takes in the most significant sites and museums in this fascinating city, including an exploration of the classic wooden architecture with its intricately carved lace-like decorations that has given many of this region’s buildings such a distinctive and unique appearance. We also visit the Volkonsky House Museum, which is dedicated to the memory of the aristocrats who were exiled to this remote outpost after the failed Decembrists uprising of 1825, and we recreate the atmosphere of that time with a champagne reception and private concert. (Freedom of Choice touring options available)
Few natural sights can surpass the beauty and grandeur of Lake Baikal and is a major highlight on our Trans-Siberian journey. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and holds 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater.
Also known as the ‘Pearl of Siberia’ it is home to a unique breed of freshwater seal and over 50 species of fish including omul. For five hours we wind our way through tunnels along cliff hugging tracks above the lake with a vista of snow capped peaks along the far shore forming a picture-perfect backdrop.
To add to the grandeur of the day our Golden Eagle train will be hauled by a Soviet era steam locomotive on this beautiful section of the line. There will be plenty of opportunities for photographs as the train winds its way along the lake. This will be an unforgettable part of our journey.
Weather permitting, we stop in an extremely picturesque location by the lake for photographic opportunities and for the brave hearted there is time for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear and ice-cold waters of Baikal. Travelling onwards to the end of the Baikal branch line, we leave the train and travel by boat on the lake to Listvyanka, a small Baikal settlement nestling at the base of the surrounding hills and visit the Lake Baikal Museum and Aquarium where you can learn about the flora and fauna of the lake.
We will enjoy a delicious barbecue, including freshly smoked omul fish, prepared by our own chefs on the shore of Lake Baikal to complete a memorable day.
As part of our Freedom of Choice touring options you can choose a hiking opportunity that offers some spectacular and panoramic hillside views of the lake below.
The ethnic and cultural diversity of Ulan Uday, the capital of the Buryat Republic, offers a unique insight into its heritage. As we tour the area you will notice the different faces of these welcoming Buryat people. During our exploration of the Old Believers’ Village we have the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of these religious people as we are treated to a concert featuring local traditions and folk singing.
Our Trans-Mongolian adventure takes us into Mongolia and a 3 night stay in its capital, Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia, once the very centre of an enormous empire led by Genghis Khan, is a country of beautiful landscapes and nomadic people, rich in culture and history. Mongolia is famous for its endless green Steppes, grazing livestock and white, nomadic Gers (Yurts) dotted all across the countryside.
Please note depending on final timings provided by the railway authorities we may substitute the railway journey from Russia into Ulaanbaatar with a private jet charter from Irkutsk so that we can maintain the advertised programme in Mongolia.
On the first day of the Naadam Festival, we observe the elaborate opening ceremony which consists of local dancers, athletes, horse riders and musicians, before travelling outside Ulaan Baatar to watch the national horse race. The competitors in the riding events are all children between five and twelve, many of whom have been in the saddle since the age of one. As they race along the plains for 20 kilometres, thousands of spectators line the remote track to watch up to 1,000 horses with children sitting confidently astride their small but sturdy Mongolian steed. It is claimed such equestrian skills won Genghis Khan an empire that stretched from the Sea of Japan all the way to Europe. In the evening we will enjoy a performance of traditional Mongolian throat singing and contortionists.
This is a unique opportunity to be among the few non-Mongolians to experience the spectacular, but little known, Naadam Festival and soak up the exciting atmosphere of this national holiday. Once a religious ceremony, the festival now formally commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country. In recent times, women have been allowed to enter and they now compete in two of the three events, horse racing and archery. Today is the day for all the main competitions and will attend the archery, wrestling and ankle-bone shooting events.
Breakfast is served in the hotel and transfers are provided to the airport for departing flights.
Due to the popularity of the period around the Naadam Festival we reserve accommodation for our guests at a number of the best hotels in Ulaanbaatar including the Shangir-La, Kempinski or Ramada. Please note, we cannot guarantee your preferred choice of hotel.
This trip is very different in style and content to our Classic Trans-Siberian journeys. It is a group departure and has all the day trips and excursions included. Therefore the only optional extras to consider are if you would like to begin your journey in St. Petersburg?
Just wanted to drop a quick note to tell you how wonderful everything was on our trip. It was really even more amazing than we hoped for from start to finish. Some highlights.
• Metropole ended up being a great location (and the awesome breakfast was included) plus the concierges were very very helpful. Rooms are quite ordinary but can’t say enough about service and location.
• We got a great (affordable too!) vegetarian meal at Twin Gardens in Moscow. It was our fine dining option over White Rabbit – concierge at Metropole had made that recommendation to me in email early on and helped with reservations. We also went to Tsum Buro on their recommendation after Boshoi – also very good and both walk-able from Metropole
• Konstantine and Demitry in Yekaterinburg. They were excellent and the “ownership” they took over our care those days was very nice. He is a great partner.
• We really enjoyed our train trip (despite our overly large luggage), we had two great women carriage attendants and one bit lazy man on our middle leg who we called grandpa snow. We found our trains
comfortable and thank goodness for Susan the bathrooms very clean!
• Not sure if you heard about the coal train that derailed outside of Irkutsk in January. We were actually behind that, we are fairly convinced they moved us to another track as our ride was Very bumpy
and Lena said she was stunned we were only 15 minutes late as some trains where running 11 hour behind.
• Skiing worked out great and we did not injure ourselves.
• Weather was miraculous – Our average temperature was around -10 to -15 C, and on our ski day with sun – perfect ski weather. So hardly a hot hands was used.
• The top highlight was our cooking class in Lake Baikal, it was so very special. We went to Rita and Sasha (he’s a guide that works with Lena and she use to have a home stay before she retired) Not only did Susan get vegetarian Borscht and Rita’s Blini’s were the best. It was just great fun, good conversation and a little homemade vodka.
Thank you again for all the care you put in helping us plan this trip
and your flexibility. It was a trip of a lifetime.
FYI – I came back to sub sub zero temperatures (-33 C), I can’t believe it’s colder at home than Siberia!!
Liz & Adele
We have just checked in to Hotel Nine in Ulaanbaatar. Our train tickets for Beijing were there, waiting for us. Excellent.
There was a small moment of uncertainty when they seemed to think that we would share a room here, but that has been dealt with.
I want to take the opportunity of letting you know how fantastically well everything has been organised, and how pleased we are with everything.
The hotels were uniformly good, the transfer arrangements worked brilliantly everywhere, and all three guides (Marianna in Yekaterinburg, Anastasia in Irkutsk/Listvyanka and above all Anar in Mongolia) were fantastic.
The trip itself has so far been amazing – everything we could hope for and more.
So, very well done, and many thanks.
We’re settling back in after our big adventure. What a time we had! Would recommend and would do it again 🙂
Sorry it’s taken me too long to get in touch to thank you for everything. But thank you!! For your help setting things up and for being reactive throughout our many email trails over the last few months. It made everything so much simpler for us.
It’s definitely not a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience – we will do it again in a few years, trying a different route and some different stops along the way. It’s simply too big a deal not to have another go!
I can give you specific feedback on trains, hotels, destinations, if it interests or helps you. (In short, Mongolia was incredibly beautiful, Tomsk lovely, Moscow even better than I imagined. The train standards were a bit of a mixed bag – the Russian ones good, the Chinese and Mongolian ones not so. There are a few things I’d highly recommend, such as a couple of our hotels)
Your ticketing was seamless, and I’ve already recommended your booking services to a friend planning to travel in the summer.
So yeah, we’ve had a super time. Pretty serious come-down now!
I came back home last Wednesday evening, after a total of five weeks and about 7000 miles of railway track!
Just wanted to send you a message with a big THANK YOU for all your help, and with your incredible patience and flexibility when I was changing my mind and my plans.
And when I was panicking about things, like passport and visa. 🙂
Everything went well, it was a fantastic experience. The train tickets were all delivered on time to my accommodation. In Beijing, I figured out how to take public transport to Mutyanu to visit the Great Wall – absolutely amazing feeling to really be there! In Ulan Batar, I stayed at Zaya Hostel, super accommodation and very helpful, done a nice day trip to the Chenggis Khan statue and the National Park. In Irkutsk, I looked around in the city and also took a public minibus to go to Listvyanka, where I went for a dog sledding trip, really really nice. I’ve seen the lowest temperature of my entire trip in Irkutsk: minus 35!! After that, Alex was a fantastic guide and great company on my trip to the gulag museum and the ice caves. In Moscow also enough to see and do. After my days in Moscow, where your itinerary and service was finished, I booked myself an additional small pile of train tickets. I went to Kiev (stayed four days, well worth the extra stop!), then “station hopped” home without any more sightseeing stops: Kiev, Warsaw, Berlin, Cologne, Brussels, Eurotunnel to London, Cardiff, Fishguard…
Big big thank you once again. Is there anywhere I can leave a review for other people to read? Maybe on your Facebook page?
Best regards, spassiba!!
Saskia van Schip
Stanton E. Samenow
We just wanted to say huge thanks to you – and to Jo and to Jackie – for all your help.
You provide a truly great service – very efficient and helping us to get a really good sense in advance of what to expect. It was a great trip which we really enjoyed.
I’ve already recommended you to a number of friends and colleagues.
The Moscow-Beijing route that we travelled uses Chinese rolling stock. And so all the carriage attendants were male and Chinese – not quite what we were expecting but they were very pleasant and helpful nonetheless!
Thank you again to all of you,
Ian & Phil
Ian Costain & Philip Hickley
I just wanted to say thanks for organizing the Trans-Siberian Rail Trip trip for me. I just arrived in Moscow and have been having a great time. Everything went incredibly smoothly. I appreciate your help planning everything. I ran into another of your clients along the way, they said the same thing.
Now, time to explore!
Hello Russia Experience,We are now in Shanghai. We had the most amazing time on the Trans-Siberian, what a great experience. The level of service and professionalism we had form yourselves continued through the whole trip. In particular the teams in Yekaterinburg and Ulaanbaatar were absolutely brilliant. I can’t believe the three weeks are over however we have memories to last forever. I would have loved to spend more time in Mongolia, so we might come back again for another adventure.I will recommend you to all our friends and I write a travel blog and have given you a good mention.Thank you so much,Chris and Jane.
Christopher Freeman & Jane Henbest
Dear JackieJust wanted to say a big thank you to everyone. I had an absolutely amazing time. Everything went to plan, all the picks ups were on time and the guides were fantastic. A wonderful experience!Judith Downes
Just a quick note to say we’ve arrived home safely and had an absolutely fantastic time, the whole trip ran like a dream, the transfers and guides were superb, it was a great experience.
Thank you so much for your recommendations, the Golden Apple and the Khan resort (especially!!) were both brilliant.
Damien & Sali Walsh
Mr & Mrs Walsh
Now that we have finished our journey across Asia, we wanted to email to thank you and your colleagues for the excellent arrangements which went without a hitch. It was a most wonderful and inspiring journey which was made the more enjoyable by knowing that we would be met and guided when it was crucial, but left also left to our own devices to explore places when it was prudent to do so.
In each place, your agents were most helpful, but we especially wanted to single out your Mongolian partners who went out of their way to make us welcome and explain to us a great deal about the country and its customs.
So, all in all, a great trip which we would recommend without hesitation: just the right blend of adventure and comfort! Thank you to all concerned.
With best wishes,
Robert & Louise
Robert & Louise
Here are some personal highlights from our trip.
I was struck by the dearth of caucasians in China and Mongolia. Some days the only non-orientals were ourselves! Great to be immersed in another culture like that.
In every big city Stephan and I did an urban run. What a great way to see a city at the street level and the people and all the energy as we ran anywhere from 3 kilometers to 10 kilometers at a go. You can imagine what it was like to run along Tianamen Square or around the Kremlin.
One extra exciting run was at Ekaterineburg. The train had a 29 minute stop and the location of the Ipatiav House where the Romanov’s were murdered was 1.5 kilometers from the train station. We had to book it off the train, through the station, onto the main boulevard and down to the huge cathedral now on that a site. Take a few pictures and hustle back with a minute to spare before the train took off!
The friends we made in wagon 6 on our trek across Siberia. There were many Brits, Canadians, and Aussies. Because we were all on the Trans-Sib/Mongolian, everyone had a sense of adventure. We were among kindred spirits. We shared stories, adventures, food, and vodka. And lots of conversation about about the Brexit vote and the results of Euro 16 football matches.
Quality time for father and son with hours together in our compartment to talk, read, share and grow closer. Stephan speaks Chinese so he was a huge asset in China as well.
A happy home away from home-coming as Sarah and Johan met us in Moscow. Good food and museums. My favorite museum is the Tretyakov and it was such a treat to view the works of Repin, Perov, Shishkin, and Lamonsov.
The Mongolian steppes. The vistas were incredible and the time spent there, as well as sleeping in a ger was so memorable.
Thank you again for your service and care for our trip. We loved it and I am so grateful for your professional wisdom and handling of the details. You are the best and can highly recommend you to all.
The Quie Family
The Havard family
Not sure if you meant it when you said you wanted some feedback but here goes. I’m on the penultimate day as we arrive in Vladivostok tomorrow. I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Nothing like what I expected but it has been a great experience and although I wouldn’t repeat it I would certainly redo it. Siberia was much less sparse than I expected and the towns were much more modern than I had expected. It’s very much a tourist trip for tourists so I could imagine some people being disappointed if they were expecting purely a culture or a geographical trip. The organisation is outstanding,service is excellent, food is very good and the facilities far above what I could have imagined. The trip itself is a curious mixture of culture,cuisine,cities,concerts,folklore,geography, history ( lectures from a professor of Russian history), entertainment,adventure and I’m sure I forgot something.
Really wonderful. Thanks for your help in giving me this experience,
John (travelled Golden Eagle Imperial Class)
Howard & Alison Brett
Nicholas Mayman & Wendy Wise
Wanted to say a huge thank you for all the help you guys gave me with the trip and the visas! and the patience you had with all my questions!!!!
I had the best time and met some awesome people ???? you guys are the best and I would definitely recommend using your company to friends and anyone that asks really!
The guides I had were all amazing and the accommodation was pretty sweet too!!
Thanks so much!
Since the end of the train trip we have been in Moscow for five days and are currently finishing up a visit to beautiful St Petersburg. Tomorrow we head to Copenhagen as we continue our three month journey.
Thanks again for all that you did on our behalf.
All services – transits, hotels, on-train facilities and guides were punctual and efficient.
We had no problems in meeting/being met by taxi drivers. Hotels were expecting us as paid-for guests.
Guides were pleasant, knowledgeable and had good English. On-train we were surprised at being offered all we wanted. Indeed, the whole package was sound and recommendable.
We were pleasantly surprised with unexpected on-train facilities. Apparently, the 1st class, two-berth, on-train service includes one cooked meal daily and complementary daily supply of tea, coffee and chocolate. Boiling water for beverages is available all day and night in each car. Bedding – linen sleeping bag and two pillows – is free. On the older railway stock, on train 8, don’t expect to wash anything except hands and your plastic crockery and cutlery. Toilet paper is always available, though not always paper towels, and the waste bins are emptied regularly.
At Irkutsk the local office manager is like no other manager. His appearance is that of a 1960s hippy – long hair tied into a pony-tail, short trousers, back-pack – but he is delightfully lucid, speaks excellent English, is clearly well-connected, is light hearted and very effective. The world needs more of his equal.
The fresh water and very clear Lake Baikal is a treasure: It’s 636 km long, about 1650 m deep and has many species found nowhere else. No wonder it has internationally recognised status for scientific interest. The Baikal museum and aquarium is truly worth a visit.
Thanks for organising a most enjoyable and interesting tour.
Our home stay hostess, Olga, was a delight. Loved the visits to villages.
Now to read and reread Russian novels! Mongolia nomad stay was more challenging than we expected but in retrospect was a good experience. Family and guide were great.
We have had an amazing time. Everything was so well organised, we always felt looked after without feeling stifled or rushed about as you might on a fully managed/guided tour. We had plenty of time to do our own thing and the trips were always in very small groups (if not only the three of us!). The local guides at each location were fantastic. All really helpful and knowledgeable and ready to do that little bit extra (special thanks to the amazing Ulziimaa in Ulaanbataar!). As you may have guessed at an early stage I can be a bit of a nervous traveller but you reassured us at every step and everything was so well planned and organised, we really had nothing to worry about at all. I appreciate hugely the fact that every email and question I had was responded to and answered within minutes/hours, even when we were in China. I will (and already have done) unreservedly recommend you and your company to anyone considering travelling through Russia, Mongolia and China.
A truly amazing experience…thank you.
Alanna, Ralph and Nathan
Karen & Jacques Grivel
Thanks for all your troubles and for a wonderful experience.
Carlos Ossenbach Sauter
Carols Ossenbach Sauter
Jessica & Nanae Warren-Hart
Bernadette & Joseph Skinner
City Walks; These added a whole new dimension to the tours as the guides were first rate and very well informed. We also found that they were happy to talk of present and past regimes which served to add colour to the situation and they were also well versed in the local customs. Without the guides the experience would not have been quite so rewarding.
Options; Not to be missed. Picnic at Lake Baikal and the trip to the Great Wall. Excellent guides and very well organised .
As promised we were always met as arranged . The drivers went out of their way to ensure that we were on time for our trains and they also made sure that we were safely on board before leaving. We were also lucky in meeting three others on the “experience” in Moscow who we were with until Beijing and so we had others to turn to when we were confused. ( Often at my age )
All in all it was a fantastic experience and one that I would not have wanted to miss at any cost. You have made two old men very happy.
My one and only complaint about the trip is that I have absolutely nothing about which to complain.
My thanks to you and all involved.
Brian Marchant & Brian Quance
We thoroughly enjoyed the hike round Lake Baikal (although the distances were a lot further than in the itinerary!!!!), and the walking guide Anton was both knowledgeable and chilled out, a great balance!
Mongolia was also an excellent experience, with the family stay being the highlight! Our guide Naki had endless information and was forever cheerful! A big thank you to him too!
The whole experience for us both was a very positive one and we will be sure to recommend your company to family and friends!!
Once again, thank you to all the drivers, guides and yourself for an excellent service!
Amanda and Duncan
Amanda Moran & Duncan Balderson
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