Days 1-2: Vladivostok
Once a top-secret naval base of the Soviet Union sealed off from the outside world, Vladivostok now opens its doors for business and the city is booming as Russia's gateway to the Far East and our starting point for our epic journey aboard the Trans Siberian Railway.
The following day is yours to unlock the secrets of Vladivostok at your leisure. Hop on ferries to remote beaches on former navy-only islands or head to higher ground for spectacular views of Golden Horn Bay. At 5pm on Day 2, you'll meet your fellow group members and your Tour Leader in the hotel lobby for your Welcome Meeting.
Days 3-5: Vladivostok to Ulan Ude
We spend the morning discovering the fascinating history of the city and port with a visit to the Local History Museum and the Vladivostok Fortress Museum, before entering the historic railway terminus to board the Trans Siberian Railway as travellers have done for over a century.
There is a feeling of excitement as our Trans Siberian journey begins. During our time on board you will get to know your fellow passengers as we relax in the comfortable four-berth compartment that is our home for this leg of the journey across eastern Siberia to the Buryat city of Ulan Ude.
Day 6: Ulan Ude
Located in the middle of the vast Siberian steppe, Ulan Ude is a centre of Buddhism in Russia, evoking a relaxed and peaceful city vibe. Here you will see the world's largest statue of Lenin's head, and have the opportunity to meander around the 18th -19th century merchant houses that line the main street, locals refer to as 'Arbat Street'. Later we make our way to the outskirts of the city to one of Russia's spiritual highlights, the picturesque Ivolginsky Datsan.
Day 7: To Mongolia
Leaving the Trans Siberian Railway for the Trans Mongolian Railway we now head south, across the border and into Mongolia, bound for Ulaanbaatar.
Day 8: Ulaanbaatar
Arriving into the capital in the early hours of the morning we have the day to explore the city's monuments and museums, reflecting on the different cultures and people that make up this quirky city.
Day 9: To Terelj National Park
After breakfast we visit the Zaisan Memorial from which the entire city is visible, as well as the country's largest remaining monastery, Gaandan Khiid, where you can mingle with Buddhist monks.
Later in the day we travel out across the grasslands, through the countryside that was once the home to Genghis Khan and his Golden Horde, to the pristine Terelj National Park. Here we spend a couple of nights in a traditional Mongolian nomad ger (felt tent), amongst spectacular rock formations and wild rolling hills. Living among nomadic families and their grazing livestock we can explore nearby valleys or just relax and enjoy the area.
Day 10: Return to Ulaanbaatar and to Irkutsk
Leaving the verdant steppe, we return to the city stopping en route at the mammoth statue of Mongolia's National hero Genghis Khan. Standing at forty metres high and made from two hundred and fifty tonnes of shiny stainless steel you certainly won't miss it!
Mid-afternoon we return to the railway station to re-join the Trans Mongolian Railway and roll along the iron tracks into Siberia. Leaving Mongolia at Sukhbaatar and travelling beyond the Russian border town we continue west along the southern shore of the world's deepest freshwater lake Baikal.
Day 11-12: Irkutsk and Lake Baikal
After our afternoon arrival into Irkutsk, we transfer to the shores of Lake Baikal for a two-night stay in the lakeside village of Listvyanka. We enjoy exploring the landscapes as well as Listvyanka with its traditional houses, beautiful wooden church, and the Museum of Wooden Architecture. We also gain an insight into the lake and its inhabitants with a visit to the Limnological Museum.
Days 13-15: Trans Siberian Railway
On Day 13 we return to Irkutsk. Almost in the center of Asia, Irkutsk is home to beautiful 18th century churches, brightly painted shutters, log houses decorated with intricate wooden lacework, as well as a captivating story of high society exile. Modern administrative blocks and soaring bridges reach out across the Angara River in this beautiful town known as the 'Paris of Siberia'. Today, on our walking tour you will discover the city's wonderful historic sights and visit the Local History Museum before we board our late night train to Kazan just after midnight.
We join the Trans Siberian Railway and travel via Novosibirsk, Omsk and Yekaterinburg booming over the steel bridges spanning Siberia's nerve system of five thousand rivers to Kazan.
Days 16-17: Arrive Kazan
Welcome to the picturesque and historic city of Kazan, the capital of the Tatarstan Republic and the Muslim Capital of Russia.
Built on the intersection of two rivers, Kazan has endured a tumultuous history. Today, Tatars, the descendants of the Golden Horde and the occupants of the city before the Russians, make up about 43% of the population, maintain their own language as well as culture and are extremely proud of their history. The fusion of Islamic and Russian architecture conveys an exotic feel. We visit Kazan's magnificent Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 18: Kazan and to Moscow
This morning we make our way to the serene settlement of Sviyazhsk, an island on the Volga. However, this tranquil setting has a violent past, inflicted by Ivan the Terrible and enabling the conquering of Kazan. We visit the Assumption Cathedral and Monastery that contains some of the rarest examples of Eastern Orthodox frescs, and learn of the villages significant history, before climbing aboard our evening train bound for Moscow.
Days 19-20: Moscow
Early morning brings us into the capital. With its palatial underground rail system draped with chandeliers and palaces and public buildings restored to their former glory this city will amaze you! Here you will have ample time to explore the echoing vastness of Red Square, the splendid twirled cupolas of St. Basil's across the cobblestones, and the Kremlin itself that fabled palace-fort of gilded domes where we marvel at the exquisite collection of royal treasures in the stunning Armoury Chamber.
Days 21-24: St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is the perfect end to this astonishing journey and offers a treasure trove of wonders for you to take in during our final days, including the world-renowned Hermitage Museum, housed in the Winter Palace as well as the beautiful Peter and Paul Cathedral, the final resting place of the Russian Tsar's.