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GE3: Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express - Naadam Festival (Eastbound)
13-day tour to Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Ulan-Ude, Lake Baikal, Ulaanbaatar
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Arrive at Moscow airport, where you are met and transferred to the five-star Marriott Royal Aurora hotel (or similar). We enjoy a welcome reception dinner at our hotel.
The following morning our tour of Moscow takes us to Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s military and political might. Here we see a mix of fascinating architecture, such as St Basil’s Cathedral with its magnificent onion-domed spires, the grandeur of The Kremlin and the sombre and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb. Early afternoon sees us boarding the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. After settling into our cabins, we enjoy dinner as our rail adventure begins.
We arrive at the picturesque and historic city of Kazan by mid-morning. One of the highlights of this tour is our exploration of the Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the walls of this ancient citadel we will explore its stunning mosque and onion-domed cathedral.
We cross the Europe/Asia divide before arriving in the historic city of Yekaterinburg. Founded in 1723 by Peter the Great, the third largest Russian city is also the capital of the Urals. The cultural and architectural influences of European and Asian civilisations come together in this cosmopolitan landscape. Our tour takes us to the poignant site where Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was executed 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.
A modern ‘Soviet’ city, we experience the life and character of Novosibirsk’s rich culture where the arts, science and literature predominate. Our city tour takes us to the Opera House. An architectural marvel, it houses two permanent ballet and opera companies and is the largest opera house in the world. In front of the Opera House, we visit an imposing statue of Lenin – a marvellous opportunity to have your photograph taken with this iconic political leader.
A day to unwind and enjoy the ever-changing landscape as we pass through the Abakan Mountains.
We arrive in Irkutsk, the ‘Paris of Siberia’, and our visit takes in the most significant sites and museums in this fascinating city, including an exploration of the classic wooden architecture that has given many of this region’s buildings such a distinctive and unique appearance. Next, we visit the Decembrist House museum which is dedicated to the memory of the exiled aristocrats who were forced to flee to this remote outpost after the failed revolution of 1825. Here we enjoy a private concert before returning to our train for dinner.
Few natural sights can surpass the beauty and grandeur of Lake Baikal. 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. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and holds 20% of the world’s freshwater. Also known as the ‘Pearl of Siberia’ it is home to a unique breed of freshwater seal and over fifty species of fish including omul which we will be serving in the dining car for some of our meals. Weather permitting, we stop at one of Baikal’s picturesque and secluded bays to enjoy a delicious BBQ including freshly smoked fish prepared by our own chefs. For the brave hearted, there is even time for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear waters. In the afternoon, we visit Listvyanka, a small Baikal settlement nestling at the base of the surrounding hills.
This morning we arrive in Ulan Ude, capital of the Buryat Republic. The ethnic and cultural diversity of this area offers a unique insight into its heritage. 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 traditional meal and enjoy a concert featuring local dancers and musicians.
|ULAAN BAATAR, MONGOLIA
Our Trans-Siberian adventure takes us to Ulaan Baatar, the capital of Mongolia and our final destination where we spend the next three nights. Passing the central monument to Genghis Khan, undoubtedly the most feared and revered Mongol, we visit the National Museum where we explore the country’s intriguing history. Lunch is taken Mongol style, in a traditional Ger (Yurt) restaurant where we experience an authentic meal, enjoying excellent local dishes and entertainment providing a unique opportunity to encounter this time-honoured nomadic way of life. You are free to spend your afternoon shopping for traditional Mongolian gifts.
Today we spend a full day at the Naadam Festival. We get to observe the elaborate opening ceremony which consists of local dancers, athletes, horse riders and musicians, before watching the national horse race.
This is the day for all main competitions. In the morning we’ll attend archery, wrestling and ankle bone shooting. In the afternoon we’ll visit Genghis Khan’s ‘13th Century National Park’ – a celebration of the great kings of Mongolia.
Breakfast is served in the hotel and transfers are provided to the airport for departing flights.