Days 1-3: St. Petersburg - The 'Venice of the North'
Begin your epic journey in St. Petersburg with its reminders of the halcyon days of the tsars. Join your Tour Leader and fellow travellers this evening as final preparations are made for your departure. Please meet your Tour Leader at 5:00pm for your pre departure meeting as detailed on your joining instructions.
'The united magnificence of all the cities of Europe are but its equal.' so said Voltaire. St. Petersburg is indeed a unique treasure house of 18th century architecture and the city that best displays the Russian genius for museums.
Visit The Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac's Cathedral and the unequalled collections of the Hermitage.
Beyond the city, marvel at the fabulous summer palaces of the Tsars at Catherine Place and Petrodvorets (Peterhof). On our final night in St. Petersburg we enjoy an evening performance at one of St. Petersburg's excellent theatres.
Days 4-5: St. Petersburg and onto Moscow
This morning we board our first train bound for Moscow arriving into the capital late afternoon.
During our stay in Moscow you will have ample time to explore the wonderfully diverse monuments and spectacles on offer, above and below the ground; from the echoing vastness of Red Square, to the twirled cupolas of St. Basil's Cathedral and the Kremlin itself the fabled palace-fort of gilded domes, where you can go beyond the dominating brick walls to inspect the Armoury Chamber and marvel the exquisite collection of royal treasures held within its walls, which includes a collection of over fifty Faberge eggs.
Day 6: Moscow and to Yekaterinburg
Beneath the city lies the palatial metro rail system draped in chandeliers, mosaics and baroque bas-reliefs. On our final day in Moscow the day is yours to navigate the city's stunning Metro, explore the exciting streets of Tverskaya Ulitsa (street) or Arbat Street, famous for its cafes and souvenirs and revisit some of the cities iconic sites before we embark on our journey towards Asia aboard our overnight train.
Sharing the journey with Russian travellers is half the fun! You'll appreciate this remarkable century-old feat of engineering as the train clatters over countless steel bridges straddling vast rivers, and crosses the Ural Mountains that divide Europe and Asia, and onto Yekaterinburg.
Days 7-8: Yekaterinburg-Welcome to Asia!
Yekaterinburg, a city founded by Peter the Great in 1723, is situated just 40 kilometers inside of Asia. Infamous as the site of the brutal murders of the Romanovs. Here you will embark on a city tour where we will take in the history and intrigue surrounding the murder of the Romanov family, a significant event that changed Russia forever and ushered in the Communist era in 1918. This city has a much brighter side to its tragic history. Today Yekaterinburg is rich in architectural monuments, museums and theatres.
Days 9 - 10: Aboard the Trans Siberian Railway Siberian Railway
Late morning we board our train that will carry us into Siberia.
Watch the endless silvers and greens of Siberia's Taiga forest flicker past your window as we traverse the Great Eurasian Plateau, crossing the mighty Ob River at Novosibirsk and continuing towards the very heartland of Siberia, Irkutsk.
Days 11-12. Arrive Irkutsk and to Lake Baikal
Evening arrival into Irkutsk and transfer to the lakeside village of Listvyanka on the shores of Lake Baikal. You will marvel at the vastness of this inland 'sea'. Over 600 kilometres in length and up to 80 kilometres in width, Baikal contains one-fifth of the earth's fresh water and is home to many unique species.
We visit the Limnological Museum where you have the opportunity to gain an insight into the traditional lives of Siberian people and the lakes inhabitants. Enjoy a picnic by the lake where you can take the opportunity to walk along the shore and for the adventurous a swim!
Day 13. Return to Irkutsk
Returning from Lake Baikal en route we visit the Museum of Wooden Architecture and enjoy a city tour of Irkutsk with a visit to the Local History Museum. Old buildings and timeworn mansions that were once the home of the revolutionary Decembrists, lend a beauty to this remote but flourishing city of Irkutsk, sometimes called "The Paris of Siberia".
Founded over 350 years ago it prospered as a market town on the 'Tea Route' between China and Europe. The city today is proud of its place in Russian history, and is always a highlight of any Trans Mongolian rail journey. On today's city tour we will visit the central market, cathedrals and many of the old buildings embellished with intricate wooden lacework, and with our local guide we learn the history of the Decembrists and their exile to Irkutsk in the 1860's.
Day 14: Irkutsk and onto Mongolia
Leaving Siberia we settle into life on board, enjoying the company of our fellow passengers as we make our way south towards Ulaanbaatar.
Day 15: Welcome to Mongolia!
You awake to the stunning visual of the south Gobi, the horse and ger dotted steppe seems to stretch forever, the occasional nomad encampment appears mirage-like through the carriage window. Early this morning you will arrive into Ulaanbaatar, the modern capital of Mongolia. We get acquainted with the city during our morning city tour. In the evening we take in a cultural performance where you will hear the unique Mongolian throat singing quite a spectacle to experience!
Day 16: To Khustai National Park
This morning we visit the Gandan Khiid Monastery, where you can mingle with ruby-robed monks young and old, via the Zaisan Memorial for panoramic views of the city. The Mongolia of Genghis Khan lies beyond the city, the land of the nomad. We travel out across the endless green steppe to Khustai National Park home to the last breed of wild horses, the Przewalski horse or Takhi in Mongolian.
Days 17-18: To Terelj National Park
We continue to the countryside retreat of Terelj National Park for a two night stay in a ger the traditional home of the Mongolian people set amid stunning mountainous scenery.
Here we can explore nearby valleys taking in a local monastery and Turtle Rock or just relax and enjoy the area. Wake to a morning on the Mongolian steppe where the lives of the Mongolian people have changed little in 500 years. Among nomadic families and their grazing livestock you have the opportunity to try horse riding within the rolling hills of the National Park. The remainder of the day is spent exploring this magical area. We visit a local family and experience the true nomadic lifestyle.
Day 19: Return to Ulaanbaatar
This morning we return to the world's most remote capital Ulaanbaatar where we will enjoy our final day in Mongolia soaking up this fascinating culture and dynamic city.
Day 20: Across the Gobi to Beijing
Feeling refreshed we reboard the train and travel over the steppe-lands of Mongolia, south across the fringes of the Gobi Desert towards the Chinese frontier, at the border town of Erlian change train bogies and glide on into China!
Days 21-25: Beijing - Journey Concludes
We arrive in China's capital around midday, a thriving city which is the country's political, economic and cultural centre. Visit Beijing's many wonderful sights the magnificent Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Mao's Mausoleum. Set in beautiful parklands we discover the fascinating history and significance of the serene Temple of Heaven and later we tour one of Beijing's traditional Hutong neighbourhoods that date back to the Yuan Dynasty.
Before you farewell your new friends, set off on an unforgettable excursion to visit one of China's most popular destinations, the Great Wall of China. Built to defend the civilised world from the fierce and capable Mongol horsemen, the Wall stretches 10,000 Li across China's mountainous northern frontier.