The Trans-Siberian is more than just a railway. It’s a journey into the psyche of modern Russia; a triumph of engineering; a movable feast through the largest, and perhaps, most mysterious nations on earth. Crossing seven time zones between Moscow and Beijing, the 7621 kilometer train track blazes a trail through some of the bleakest and most beautiful landscapes on earth. In an epoch of low-cost air fares, the world’s longest railway continues to exert a hold over travellers; it still tops bucket lists, still pulls in the tourists. It also remains a lifeline for millions of Russians. Somerset Tours & Travel now invites you to join us on this wonderful, adventurous train trip, travelling from Beijing to Moscow in July 2018 on the Tsar’s Gold Private Train.
This is one of the last great travel adventures. Our journey along the Trans-Siberian Railway, one of the world’s most fascinating and safest train routes, is even more interesting, comfortable and entertaining with our privately chartered coach.
Once on the Tsar’s Gold train, we will be accompanied by an experienced multi-lingual tour director and a physician. A sophisticated on-board program complements a comprehensive excursion and sightseeing package to make our journey memorable.
Our tour departs South Africa on 04 July 2018 and flies on Emirates via Dubai to Beijing where we will have 3 days with time for sightseeing the iconic sights of the city such as the Temple of Heaven, Tianamen Square, Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium, the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs and the Forbidden City as well as taking in the sumptuous flavours of Peking Duck.
Our rail journey adventure begins in Beijing and we board a comfortable Chinese chartered train which will transport us to the border town of Erlian, where the 21-car Tsar’s Gold Private train, pulled by an enormous locomotive, is waiting to continue into Mongolia. Mongolia is an ancient land with a colourful history. It’s the birthplace of Chinggis Khan (better known in the West as Genghis Khan). As we cross the Gobi Desert on our way to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, we’ll pass herds of Bactrian camels and horses racing next to the rails. Canvas gers (the Mongolian word for a yurt) with multi-coloured doors dot the landscape. We’ll be able to observe the nomadic way of life from our comfortable coaches.
Our two-day stop in Ulan Bator is filled with sightseeing of lama monasteries and Buddhist temples and we’ll get to experience the run up to the Nadaam summer festival. Here, there will be an opportunity of spending a night in a ger to experience the legendary hospitality of the nomads. We can highly recommend this experience. We guarantee you will remember the experience forever.
From here, the train rolls through the Selenga River Valley to the Mongolian-Russian border town of Naushki, where we undergo passport formalities. Welcome to Russia!
Ulan Ude is the first stop in Siberia. The capital of the Russian Republic of Buryatia, this is where we join the main Trans-Siberian railway line which runs from Moscow to Vladivostok. A whirlwind city tour takes us to the main sights including wooden mansions, fountains and an enormous statue of Lenin’s head.
Not far from Ulan Ude is “the Blue Eye of Siberia”, Lake Baikal. Here, the Tsar’s Gold makes a side journey around the edge of this stunningly beautiful expanse of clear blue water, the largest, oldest, deepest and purest lake on earth. A picnic, complete with samovars and charcoal barbecue, provides the evening meal as the sun sets over the lake.
The next morning we reach Irkutsk, known as the “Paris of Siberia”. Irkutsk is still five time zones away from Moscow. Hundreds of old wooden houses with intricately carved fretwork and brightly painted window shutters line the streets of this lively market town. Once, the wives of rebellious officers in the Tsar’s army exiled to Siberia turned this town into a centre of society.
As the train chugs inexorably westward, the landscape of Siberia unfolds outside the windows. Small villages with their elaborate woodwork and colours stand here and there. In the woods, graveyards hide among the birch trees.
Over the next four days, we wind our way through western Siberia to the town of Ekaterinberg, infamous as the execution site of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Here we will visit the Church-on-Blood, built where the Imperial Family died and which commemorates their sainthood.
Shortly after leaving Ekaterinberg, we cross from Asia into Europe. Kazan is the last big city before Moscow. The 1000-year-old capital of the Russian Province of Tatarstan, perched on the banks of the Volga River, is the crossroads between East and West. Equal numbers of Muslims and Russian Orthodox believers live together here in seeming peace and harmony, the skyline dotted with minarets and onion-shaped domes.
The landscape changes again as we approach Moscow. The charm of eastern Russia has been lost to urban blight of industry and concrete buildings. However, it soon makes way for the glory of Moscow’s Kremlin, Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral.
From Moscow we will be flying back to South Africa on Emirates Airlines via Dubai on 20 July 2018.
Liz Cotton will be accompanying the tour and we will be escorted by an English-speaking local guides throughout and lecturers on the Tsar’s Gold.
The tour is limited to 18 participants, and if you are interested in joining us, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Completed in October 1916, the Trans-Siberian Railway helped shape the Russia we know today, though its influence can be felt much further afield, not least in Japan, China and Europe. Even today it can be an arduous voyage. The most comfortable way to travel across Siberia is on a private train ~ The Tsar’s Gold.
Winston Churchill famously described Russia as ”a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” ~ words that still, perhaps, ring true today. A journey aboard the Trans-Siberian on the Tsar’s Gold won’t necessarily solve, but it will certainly help make sense of this furtive nation.
This grand private train journey from Beijing to Moscow via Mongolia and Lake Baikal is your chance to fulfill the dream of a lifetime and we encourage our adventurous friends to join us on this legendary and historic journey.