Naadam (naa-dm) that is how Mongols call one of two largest national holidays. The name of the festival means competition, sports. Indeed, it is a true test of manhood in such traditional games as horse racing, archery and wrestling. The wrestling enjoys special popularity comparable to that of baseball in the United States or sumo wrestling in Japan.
NAADAM FESTIVAL, MONGOLIA
The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express - Naadam Festival Eastbound – 13 day itinerary MOSCOW – KAZAN – YEKATERINBURG – NOVOSIBIRSK – IRKUTSK – LAKE BAIKAL – ULAN UDE – ULAAN BAATAR
Day 1, Moscow
Arrive at Moscow airport, where you are met and transferred to the luxurious five-star Marriott Royal Aurora hotel (or similar) located in the heart of this vibrant city for a one-night stay. We enjoy a welcome reception dinner at our hotel, whilst you meet your fellow travellers and anticipate the epic 15 day voyage that lies ahead.
Day 2, Moscow
Our morning city tour of Moscow principally takes us to Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might. Here we see an eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, such as the ornate 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 luxurious Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. After settling into our modern, stylish cabins, we enjoy dinner in one of the beautifully designed restaurant cars as our rail adventure eastwards to Ulaan Baatar begins.
Day 3, Kazan
We arrive at the picturesque and historic city of Kazan by mid-morning. Situated on the River Volga, Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan. Here we have the opportunity to see for ourselves its rich tapestry of history and culture.
One of the highlights of this city 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. After enjoying a relaxing dinner on the Golden Eagle, you may wish to retire to our welcoming bar car where you can enjoy drinks with new friends whilst listening to our resident pianist.
Day 4, Yekaterinburg
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 fascinating and cosmopolitan landscape. Our city tour takes us to the poignant site where the Romanov, Nicholas II of Russia was executed with his family 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.
Day 5, Novosibirsk
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.
Day 6, Onboard
A day to unwind and reflect on the many sights and sounds we have experienced on our journey so far. Chat to your fellow passengers, perhaps learn a few words of Russian or simply enjoy the ever changing landscape outside your window as it unfolds.
Day 7, Irkutsk
We arrive in Irkutsk, the ‘Paris of Siberia’, and our visit today 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 waiting train for dinner.
Day 8, Lake Baikal
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.
Day 9, Ulan Ude
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. As we tour the area you will notice the different faces and dress styles of these welcoming people. 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.
Day 10, Ulaan Baatar
Our Trans-Siberian adventure takes us to Ulaan Baatar, the capital of Mongolia and our final destination where we spend the next four 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.
Day 11, Ulaan Baatar
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.
Day 12, Ulaan Baatar
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.
Day 13, Ulaan Baatar
Breakfast is served in the hotel and transfers are provided to the airport for departing flights.
Dates and Costs
• 1 night in Moscow
•8 nights onboard the Golden Eagle
• 3 nights in Ulaan Baatar
• 2 days entrance tickets to the Naadam Festival - 11 July
• Freedom of Choice Touring Options
From : £ 8595 per person
WHAT'S INCLUDED IN OUR TOURS
As far as possible our tours are all inclusive with no hidden extras. What follows are those elements which are included in the tour price. The only extra items you may need to budget for include personal expenses such as visa costs, insurance, drinks from the bar car, laundry, spa treatments, hairdressing and occasional optional off-train excursions.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE TOURING
Customise your journey and enjoy the opportunity to select from an array of Freedom of Choice Touring options that best suits your interests. Your off-train excursions will still take in all the major attractions of the places we are visiting but, in featured locations, you will be presented when you are onboard the train with a variety of activities from which to choose, and enjoy a tailor-made experience. In Moscow for example, you could choose to spend time in the Tretyakov Picture Gallery, which is not part of the standard touring programme; or you might choose to go shopping in the local markets and bazaars; or spend a day relaxing in a local spa (*treatments extra).
In short, it means that your holiday is just that, your very own, and it’s all included in the tour price, with no more for you to pay. It is the ultimate in flexibility. Look at the individual itineraries where we are operating Freedom of Choice Touring. Freedom of Choice Touring options may be subject to variations dependent on finalised train timings and local charges. Touring options available will typically be advised in the evening prior to the day’s tour.
EXPERIENCED TOUR MANAGERS
Our experienced tour managers and their assistants are selected for their travel knowledge and organisational abilities allowing you to relax and enjoy your voyage of a lifetime. We receive many exceptional passenger comments about our Tour Managers and their aim is to ensure you enjoy every minute of your holiday.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE TRANSFERS
Arrival and departure transfers are included.
HOTEL AND ONBOARD ACCOMMODATION
Although you will spend much of your time sightseeing or relaxing in the train’s public areas, you will find you hotel room or cabin a welcome retreat at the end of a rewarding day. Hotel and onboard accommodation as described in your individual tour itinerary are included in the tour price. All hotels are of 5 star standard or, in certain locations, the best available. Room upgrades are available on request and at extra cost.
WELCOME AND FAREWELL DINNERS
Each tour begins with a Welcome Dinner, an ideal opportunity to get to know your fellow passengers; for the Tour Manager to brief you on the trip; and introduce you to the GW Travel team and the Tour Doctor. The Farewell Dinner is the perfect end to your adventure by private train where you can relive the journey and look ahead to future tours.
ROUTE GUIDE, ITINERARY AND INFORMATION PACK
When you board the train there will be a brochure in your cabin detailing more about your journey and the places en-route. Our Tour Manager will organise a programme of briefings on the cities or places we visit and, each evening, will issue a programme for the next day’s touring schedule.
BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER DAILY
All departures feature one or two uniquely designed restaurant cars where you can enjoy the excellent waiter-served food and wine. Several times during the tour we will also sample authentic local cuisine off the train.
DRINKS WITH MEALS
A generous drinks allowance is included with lunch and dinner. For passengers travelling in Gold Class onboard the Golden Eagle, drinks from the Standard Drinks List in the Bar Car are also included.
ON BOARD SERVICE
Throughout your tour you can expect service which is attentive, friendly and unintrusive. The high ratio of staff to passengers means there is always someone available should you need assistance.
GUIDED OFF-TRAIN EXCURSIONS
All our tours include a wide-ranging sightseeing schedule to make the most of the time you have off the train and bring you closer to the culture, people and history of your destinations. We believe it is the special little touches that help create magical memories – whether it is attending a private concert in the middle of Siberia, or drinking tea picked from the very plantations where you are sitting, nestled in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.
On all the off–train excursions, to enhance your enjoyment and comprehension of the places you visit, you will be provided with a lightweight personal headset on which to listen to your tour guide as you take in the sights. So you do not need to worry about missing any of the interesting details on your excursions.
ON BOARD DOCTOR AND MEDICAL FACILITIES
To give you peace of mind our tours are accompanied by a doctor who travels with us for the entire journey; so you can rest assured that medical assistance is always available. On call 24 hours a day, the doctor is on hand to give primary care as required. Normally, the doctor will be English speaking and be registered with the General Medical Council in the UK.
24 HOUR SERVICE ATTENDANT
Your car attendants provide 24-hour housekeeping and bedding turndown services, with one attendant always on duty to assist you and to ensure you are comfortable in your cabin. Complimentary tea, coffee and bottled drinking water are available in your cabin 24 hours a day.
Porterage is included between the hotels and stations.
All gratuities are included in the tour price.
GOLDEN EAGLE TRAIN
On 26 April, 2007 HRH Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO unveiled the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, the private train that brings unprecedented luxury to the world's greatest railway journey. The full train comprises of twelve fully en-suite Silver and Gold Class sleeping cars which feature state of the art amenities. 77 sq ft (7 sq metres) Gold Class cabins are well-proportioned and have everything from power showers and underfloor heating to a DVD/CD player, LCD screen and individual air-conditioning. Silver Class cabins are more compact at 60 sq ft (5.5 sq metres) but have similar facilities.
A particular delight of the Golden Eagle is one of our beautifully appointed restaurant cars, the venue for our chefs to serve carefully-prepared meals using wherever possible only local ingredients. Whether it be the world-renowned ‘Borscht’ or Omul – a fish unique to Lake Baikal – we offer a culinary experience representing the very essence of Russia. Our meals are complemented by wines from around the world, as well as – naturally – vodka. Yet the social heart of our train is the bar car, a great place to relax and settle into the unhurried pace of life on board. Unwind in comfortable surroundings and watch the world go by as you get to know your fellow passengers. Enjoy the sounds of the pianist playing in the evenings; and the bar stays open until the last person leaves.
Please allow 6 weeks for visas for Russia, Mongolia and China