Days 1-3: St. Petersburg
Your adventure begins in St. Petersburg where you will be amazed how well the city fathers have preserved the 18th century architecture. It's a city of canals, standing resplendent on the Neva River. The gilded halls of the Hermitage Museum are hung with the works of Da Vinci, Rembrandt and many others of the great masters, during our stay we see these magnificent treasures with our own eyes!.
Join your Tour Leader and fellow travellers on Day 1 at 5:00pm for your Welcome Meeting as detailed on your joining instructions.
Day 4: St. Petersburg and to Moscow
Further explore this luxurious city with richly filled palaces and museums, wide boulevards and Venice-like canals before joining the overnight express to Moscow Your epic journey is underway!
Days 5-6: Welcome to the Capital Moscow
We arrive into the capital mid-morning allowing us ample time to discover the wonderfully diverse monuments and spectacles on offer. These days the national capital is fairly buzzing with activity, but Red Square is much more sedate, with the colourful onion shaped domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, and the Kremlin watching over it. In the 1970's a wooden spiral staircase was discovered within the walls of St. Basil's, you can now take this route into the central church, with its extraordinary, soaring tented roof and a fine 16th Century iconostasis.
Getting around this city is easy and an experience in itself as you discover the amazingly palatial metro rail system draped in chandeliers, mosaics and baroque bas-reliefs, as we ride the metro together. Perhaps you'll use this vast underground rail network to see other parts of the city in your free time.
Days 7-10: Aboard the Trans Siberian Railway
Late this evening we board the Trans Siberian Railway in Moscow and travel east via the Ural Mountains, which divide Europe from Asia, and cross the Irtysh and Ob rivers en route to Irkutsk and Lake Baikal deep in Siberia. During your time on board there's a great opportunity to pass the time getting to know some of the Russian passengers.
Days 11-12: Arrive Irkutsk and to Lake Baikal
After our evening arrival into Irkutsk we transfer to Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake, where we will enjoy a two-night interlude at nearby Listvyanka on the shores of the lake. A perfect picturesque location to relax and take in the area's beautiful wooden church and nearby Limnological Museum.
Day 13: Return to Irkutsk
Irkutsk made its fame as a stopping place on the caravan route from China and for many years was home to exiled aristocracy from Russia's west. On a walking tour this afternoon you will visit the homes of the Decembrists, the St. Petersburg radicals dispatched here in 1825, before settling in for our final night in Siberia.
Day 14: Aboard the Trans Mongolian Railway
Early this morning we climb back aboard our train bound for Mongolia! Settle into life on board with your fellow travelling companions. As the train leaves Irkutsk you will skirt the shores of the magnificent Lake Baikal, before entering the mountains that border Mongolia to our next stop, Ulaanbaatar.
Day 15: Hello Mongolia!
As day breaks you will be greeted with classic scenes of ger-dotted steppe and the occasional yak before we arrive into Ulaanbaatar early in the morning.
The capital displays ancient Buddhist origins, echs of its days as a Soviet satellite nation, and modern development with shiny new apartment blocks where the more affluent citizens live. Recent arrivals from the countryside opt for the cheaper and traditional gers which abound in some areas.
After breakfast we visit Zaisan Memorial where Soviet soldiers are honoured and from which the entire city can be seen. Another highlight today is witnessing Gandan Khiid Monastery where you can mingle with Buddhist monks and view the massive 25 metre statue of Megid Janraisig - the lord who looks in every direction. In the afternoon, we'll travel out across the grasslands to Terelj National Park where we will spend the night in a traditional ger and get a taste of the life of Mongolia's nomads.
Day 16: Terelj National Park and Ulaanbaatar
After a morning in the Mongolian wilderness, we return to Ulaanbaatar for our final night in the capital.
We'll spend the most part of the afternoon exploring this fascinating capital, visiting the National History Museum for an interesting insight into Mongolian history and culture including real examples of 12th century Mongol armour. In the evening, we have the opportunity to listen to unique Mongolian throat singing at an evening cultural performance (optional) - it truly is amazing!
Day 17: Across the Gobi Desert To Beijing
All aboard for our final train journey on the Trans Mongolian Railway! Early this morning we return to the railway station to meet the Beijing express train that will take us across the Mongolian steppe and Gobi Desert into China. At the Mongolian border town of Dzamin Ude we pause for border formalities and the train's bogies are changed, quite a sight to behold, before we continue towards Beijing.
Days 18-21: Beijing
Around midday your journey will bring you to China's bustling 'Imperial City', where there are copious amounts of sights to see and thing to do. Over the next three days we have ample time to explore famous Tiananmen Square and Temple of Heaven, feast on many tasty morsels at the local markets and of course take an excursion out into the countryside to walk the Great Wall of China that stretches 10,000 li (around 5000 km) across the distant hills.