Travellers arrive from all corners of the world during the day. Though there are no arranged activities on Day 1 please arrive by 6pm as we have a group meeting. Please check hotel's noticeboard for details. You will be met by your Chief Experience Officer, who will run through the trip itinerary and answer your questions. After the meeting you can join your CEO for group dinner.
There is so much to see and do in St Petersburg that it's well worth staying a couple of extra nights if you have time. St Petersburg is a beautiful city, rightly known as the Venice of North Europe. One of the most delightful of Russian cities, St Petersburg is built of baroque European architecture, combined with the opulent palaces of Russian royalty. Its tree-lined streets and cosmopolitan atmosphere make it a favourite for many travellers. Explore the immense treasures of the luxuriant Hermitage museum - Winter Palace. If you have arrived earlier, consider visiting famous royal residences - Pushkin and Peterhof. On Day 2 in the evening we board the overnight train for the ride to Moscow (approximately 7 hours). Our first ride in what will be an epic journey.
We arrive to Russian capital in the early morning on day 3. The great red city of Moscow has seen Russia through some of its most turbulent years, surviving the trauma and tribulations of revolution, from the days of the tsars through the communist era to the growing pains of democracy. Despite the glamour and show of modern capitalism, exploring Moscow is like taking a step back in time and being lost in history. Names of places such as the 'Kremlin' and the infamous 'Red Square', bring forth unforgettable images of espionage, secrecy and the Cold War era. Explore the streets of this evocative city to truly gain a sense of Muscovite life. We also recommend visiting the fantastic Kremlin with its Armoury, Red Square and Ivan the Terrible's extraordinary St Basil's Cathedral, absolutely not to be missed. In the afternoon or evening of Day 4 (train departure time depends on the train schedule) we board the train for 3 days and 4 nights long trip to Irkutsk.
The Trans-Siberian Railway is the world's most famous train line. Extending from Moscow across Siberia to the far flung town of Vladivostok, it is also the longest. We experience part of this celebrated train odyssey, boarding in the bustling hub of Moscow for the long journey to Irkutsk (approx. 78 hours). Travelling through time zones in style, we pass mountain ranges and wind our way through taiga, big Russian cities and small Siberian villages.The train is a simple affair, but with enough modern luxuries to make it a comfortable journey. The carriage bathrooms are well equipped and have hot water, though if you wish to have a shower you will need to bring your own shower attachments. An attendant is assigned to every carriage to look after your needs and each compartment has four convertible beds, with luggage storage space provided. Restaurant car tends to have a jovial atmosphere and can offer an interesting insight into local cuisine- it's also a great place to make friends on this long journey! Trains run on Moscow time even though there may be several hours time difference, making for interesting meal times. Station platforms nearly always have an array of food for sale at stalls run by the Babushkas.There are lists of stations that the train will stop at and the time they stay there, ranging from two to twenty minutes. Always double check with the carriage attendant - it's a long wait for the next train to come through if you make a mistake!
The long journey brings us to the charming Siberian city of Irkutsk where we transfer to a bus for the short trip to Listvyanka (approx. 2 hours), a small and picturesque village on the shores of Lake Baikal. We spend the rest of the day exploring the area and an invigorating swim in this Siberian lake is highly recommended.
After a free day in Listvyanka we re-board the train for a two-night journey that crosses the Russia/Mongolia border and takes us into the Mongolian capital of Ulaan Baatar. This train is the most local of all the trains we take on this journey and, as such, the amenities are limited. A restaurant car is normally not provided so we take time to stock up in one of Irkutsk's markets.
There is plenty of time to explore all the fantastic museums and temples the Mongolian capital has to offer. The sleepy capital is an evolving city, showing many signs of its Soviet past contrasted with an increasing Chinese influence and a re-emergence of traditional Mongolia. We also spend overnight (Day 12) in the Ger camp enjoying nomadic life in traditional Mongolian "house"—a ger.
We board our last train on the morning of Day 14 from Ulaan Baatar which brings us into the capital of China in the afternoon the next day, traversing dramatic desert-scapes that give way to the rugged mountainous terrain that is home to China's ancient defense system, The Great Wall- keep an eye out for glimpses of it as we get closer to the journey's end.
Beijing, China's capital city, is one of the world's largest and most fascinating cities. There is enough time to explore the most famous attractions - legendary Tiananmen Square and enigmatic Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and the Lama Temple Monastery or get lost in Beijing's hutongs - traditional alleys hiding a labyrinth of courtyard dwellings.
Our epic journey concludes in Beijing and you may depart at any time on day 17. Check-out time is 12:00 pm. The hotel has luggage storage facilities, and taxis to the airport can be arranged.