Trans Siberian Express, Silk Route with Exeter International

The Golden Eagle is the finest train travelling through Russia, Crimea, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Mongolia, and features four routes, including the classic Trans Siberian and Silk Route. The train provides an oasis at the end of a day’s sightseeing.

On board are two beautifully appointed restaurant cars serving meals using local ingredients. Meals are complemented by wines from around the world, as well as – naturally – vodka.

The social heart of the 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 which are usually a very international mix.

Golden Eagle - The Itinerary

Two thousand years ago the Silk Road trade routes crisscrossed Eurasia, from China to the ports of the Mediterranean, from the first millennium B.C. through the middle of the second millennium A.D. Silk was already being sold in Europe in the fourth century B.C, and many important scientific and technological innovations migrated along the Silk Road to the West: gunpowder, the magnetic compass, the printing press, mathematics, ceramic and lacquer crafts.

The tour follows a section of the route in Central Asia safeguarded by the Mongols, who succeeded the Chinese as guardians of the Silk Road.

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 two-night stay. We enjoy a welcome dinner at our hotel, whilst you meet your fellow travellers and, together, look forward to the 13 day voyage that lies ahead. (Please note there will be a main group of travellers on the tour that will travel from Moscow to Beijing as a 21 day journey)

Day 2 MOSCOW

Our 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.

Day 3 ONBOARD

In the morning of Day 3, we board the 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 journey to Almaty in Kazakhstan begins.

Day 4 VOLGOGRAD

Standing on the banks of the Volga, Stalingrad, as the city was known in Soviet times, was the dramatic scene of some the most important Second World War battles. The Russians heroically turned back the Nazi advance here to alter the course of the war. We visit the poignantly sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, followed by the informative diorama and absorbing museum visit. In the evening we enjoy a beautifully prepared dinner on board our private train.

Day 5 KARA KUM

Today, we enjoy a relaxing day onboard as we travel across the vast expanses of the Kara Kum desert. As well as experiencing the unique landscape, we can take the opportunity to chat to fellow passengers and maybe take our first Russian language lesson.

Day 6 KHIVA

Crossing into Uzbekistan, our train travels towards Urgench, where we transfer to the ancient city of Khiva, founded 2,500 years ago. As one of the Silk Road’s most important trading posts and now a World Heritage Site, it lies at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia. A truly magnificent sight to behold, it rises out of the desert to reveal a wealth of impressive architecture. Stepping back in time, we discover its impressive mosques, bazaars and minarets within Khiva’s ancient walls. Lunch and dinner are served onboard our train.

Day 7 ASHGABAT

In dramatic contrast to Khiva, we arrive in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan - the ‘Las Vegas of the Kara Kum’. Situated between the Kara Kum Desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range, its golden domes and towering modern buildings appear strangely incongruous in this almost biblical setting.

Day 8 MERV

Early morning sees us arrive in Mary, where we transfer to the ancient and mainly unrestored city of Merv. Once an important stopping point on the Silk Road, it claims to have briefly been the largest city in the world during the twelfth century. 1794 saw the demise of Merv, after the Emir of Bukhara destroyed the dam which the population depended on for its water. After our fascinating exploration we return to our train for dinner.

Day 9 BUKHARA

Bukhara is quite simply outstanding. Like Khiva, UNESCO helped fund the renovation of much of the city for its 2,500th anniversary in 1999. The highlight of this wonderful tour is a visit to The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara - the despotic and ruthless leaders who ruled until Soviet times. Lunch is taken at a local restaurant before we travel out of the city to experience the Emir’s enchantingly named, Palace of the Moon and Stars.

Day 10 SAMARKAND

Founded in the 6th Century BC, Samarkland’s stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia. Today we will visit some of its most significant sites including the refined elegance of the beautifully proportioned Bibi Khanum Mosque and the Ulag Beg observatory, one of the earliest Islamic astronomical observatories built in 1428. Before dinner in a local restaurant we will visit the illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square before returning to our train for a late evening departure.

Day 11 TASHKENT

Today we arrive in the capital city of Uzbekistan and spend the morning touring this modern Soviet-style city which was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966. We re-board the train for lunch as we head towards Kazakhstan and Almaty. This afternoon gives us the opportunity to relax with friends or listen to one of the informative lectures designed to give us a greater insight into this fascinating region before we enjoy our final evening on board the Golden Eagle.

Day 12 ALMATY

Just before lunch we arrive in Almaty – the largest city in Kazakhstan. This beautifully verdant city derives its name from ‘Alma’ meaning ‘apple’. Just a short distance from the city, apple orchards thrive in abundance. Surrounded by the majesty of the Tien Shen Mountains, we will enjoy a traditional lunch in a Kazak ‘yurt’, a dwelling place of this region’s nomadic people. Tonight we transfer from the Golden Eagle to the 5 star Inter-Continental Hotel for a 1 night stay.

Day 13 CROSSING INTO CHINA

As we arrive at the Kazakh border of Druzhba, we bid the Golden Eagle a final farewell. The border crossing takes 5 hours but our patience is rewarded as the Shangri-La Express private train awaits us in Alanshankou, the Chinese border station. We are now at liberty to settle into our comfortable cabins as we head further into the intriguing landscape of China. A welcome dinner is served in the restaurant cars, giving us our first taste of authentic Chinese cuisine.

Day 14 URUMCHI & TURPAN

Urumchi is located in a verdant oasis between the lofty ice capped Bogda Peak, the vast Salt Lake, the pine covered Southern Hill and the alternating fields and sand dunes of the Zunggar Basin. Urumchi boasts an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for being the city furthest from any sea in the world – a staggering 1,400 miles (2,500km) from the nearest coastline. This morning we visit the renowned mummy exhibition at the Provincial Museum. After lunch we travel to Turpan, where the Flaming Mountains create a magnificent backdrop. We then take a fascinating tour to the ancient underground irrigation system that has successfully fed the rich orchards and vineyards for centuries. Our final destination is the elegantly decaying sand city of Jiaohe that was founded in 108 BC.

Day 15 DUNHUANG

Before lunch we arrive in the small oasis-city of Dunhuang, where we will visit the fascinating Magao Thousand Buddha Cave Complex. This impressive site contains almost 500 grottoes, carved between 700 and 1,700 years ago. Inside we will see an amazing collection of beautiful sculptures and murals depicting the evolution of Buddhist religious art over a 1,000 year period. In the afternoon we explore the vast natural beauty of the Gobi Desert by camel. Here we discover Crescent Lake. Hidden amongst towering sand dunes, it has sustained life in this region for millennia. Tonight we experience dinner and a local folk performance in this magical setting.

Day 16 JIAYUGUAN

This morning our private train arrives in Jiayuguan. Famous for being the first pass at the most westerly point of the Great Wall of China, it was given the rather poetic name: ‘The first and greatest pass under Heaven’. Our tour takes us to the perfectly restored fortress at the end of the Great Wall which dates back to 1372. Considered one of the greatest sites in northwest China, we spend time here and visit its excellent museum. This afternoon we spend time in the Bar Car either attending a lecture on the Great Wall or simply relax as the landscape unfolds before us.

Day 16 XIAN TERRACOTA WARRIORS

Our fascinating journey of discovery takes us to Xian. Our morning arrival gives us several hours to explore the world famous Terracotta Warriors, discovered by peasants only 30 years ago. The 6,000 terracotta figures and their horses are one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th Century. This evening we enjoy the Tang Dynasty Dinner, Music and Dance Show, a wonderful performance of ancient entertainment.

Day 18 BEIJING

Spending our last day onboard the Shangri-La Express we wind our way northwards towards the capital of China, Beijing. Having travelled a mammoth 7,000 miles (11,250km) from Moscow, we bid farewell to our train crew and transfer to the five-star Regent Hotel (or similar) for a three-night stay.

Day 19 BEIJING

Today we visit Tiananmen Square and then explore the magnificently restored Forbidden City. Our cultural exploration continues at the Temple of Heaven, the grandest of the four great temples situated in Beijing. Here we experience enchanting displays of traditional dancing, singing and the delicately precise ancient art of calligraphy.

Day 20 BEIJING – THE GREAT WALL

We devote our final full day in Beijing to the most awe-inspiring site in the whole of China - The Great Wall. This amazing edifice is one of the few man-made structures visible from outer space and perhaps the most evocative symbol of Chinese skill and precision. At Badaling we have the privilege of walking along a portion of the wall – the perfect opportunity to take some memorable photographs with your fellow guests. Our farewell banquet is hosted in an authentic Peking Duck restaurant, where we say goodbye to our fellow travelling companions.

Day 21 BEIJING

Following breakfast, you will be transferred to Beijing airport for international departures.

The Cabins

All cabin types include complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water.

GOLD CLASS

With five cabins per carriage, Gold Class is the Premier Class on board, with drinks from the bar included as part of your amenities, (standard brands) plus a full bathroom en suite.

77 sq ft (7 sq metres)

Sleeps 2 in either lower standard (4ft 6) double bed or bunk style

Remote controlled air-conditioning and heating

Recessed lighting and wardrobe

Personal safe

Private en-suite bathroom with full power shower and underfloor heating

DVD/CD player with LCD screens

SILVER CLASS

With 6 cabins per carriage Silver Class have a slightly smaller cabin, bar drinks are not included and bathrooms have combined facilities.

60 sq ft (5.5 sq metres)

Sleeps 2 in lower small double bed (4ft) or bunk style

Remote controlled air-conditioning and heating

Recessed lighting and wardrobe

Personal safe

Private en-suite bathroom with ‘wet-room’ style shower and toilet

DVD/CD player with LCD screens

HERITAGE CLASS

With eight cabins to a carriage and shower and toilet facilities shared at the end of the carriage.

39 sq ft (3.6 sq metres)

Sleeps 2 in bunk style

Remote controlled air-conditioning and heating

Recessed lighting and wardrobe

Washbasin

For more information please call us on 020 8996 5163 or email us at enquiries@exeterinternational.co.uk