Epic rail journeys through the heart of Russia, Central Asia, China and Mongolia.
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Activity adventure | Escorted tour | History & culture | Natural world | Rail journey
The Trans-Siberian Express is a legend among rail journeys, with a selection of routes taking in the spectacular scenery, historic cities and fascinating cultures of a vast region stretching from the Russian capital Moscow to the port city of Vladivostok on Russia's Pacific Coast along with the Silk Route countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as well as China and Mongolia.
The Golden Eagle – just the name conjures images of listening to a Tchaikovsky recital, played out on a baby grand as Russia’s wilderness slips by. Indeed, you’ll be welcomed aboard by a piano-accompanied glass of champagne, served among the darkwood grandeur of the bar car – the venue for afternoon teas and expert lectures. The restaurant carriage is equally delightful, with full-board menus of made-to-order breakfasts and dinners of salmon caviar all washed down with included drinks. Then, come the evening, retire to your cosy en-suite cabin where plush sofas convert to both an upper berth and a small double bed.
And, while all feature lcd screens and a 24-hour service from personal attendants, upgrades mix in extra space, underfloor heating and a complimentary bar service. The wood-panelled Imperial Suites are a special highlight.
Golden Eagle's elegant bar car
The Golden Eagle’s iconic offering is, of course, its Trans-Siberian route. Taking 6,500 miles and 16 days, it traces soaring mountains, great Mongolian plains and Siberia’s wild expanse to sweep between Moscow and Vladivostok. And, throughout, you’ll stop for unique excursions, from yurt visits and champagne-reception concerts to stops at frontier Tsarist towns.
There’s also the option of the shorter 14-day Trans-Mongolian Express, which follows the same route but finishes earlier in Ulaanbaatar. But, for something entirely different, look to the 21-day Silk Road journey. Next departing in April 2019, it begins in Beijing aboard China’s most-luxurious private train before swapping back to the Golden Eagle to travel through the ‘Stans and on to Moscow. Expect Xian’s Terracotta Warriors, Gobi-Desert camel rides, Central-Asian exoticism and Soviet severity.
Traditional ger tents on the Mongolian steppe
From the same people behind the Golden Eagle, there’s a brand-new route available, billed as the “ultimate rail tour of Switzerland”. But, instead of travelling on the iconic train itself, you’ll dart along flower-filled valleys and summit Alpine peaks aboard everything from funiculars and chartered steam trains to narrow-gauge mountain railways and the ultra-modern Glacier Express. However, most of your travel will be aboard the Prestige Continental Express or the 1930s Glacier & Bernina Pullman Express. Expect rich upholstery, wood inlay and brass detailing that recalls all the grandeur of the golden age of rail travel. There are also those all- important bar carriages – replete with pianos – and restaurant cars, where inclusive gourmet meals are taken with complimentary drinks.
It’s all knitted together by stays in luxury hotels and a full suite of included touring, from winery lunches to glacier walks. In fact, that’s the real joy of this journey. Between private charters, porterage and expert-led excursions, this unique route simply wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
It begins with a night in the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel – a true London landmark – before a Business-Premier Eurostar hop sees you on to a night in Paris, including dinner beneath the frescoes of Gare de Lyon’s Le Train Bleu. Then, following a tgv sprint down to Basel, you’ll start your Swiss adventure. With stays in Zurich, aristocratic St. Moritz, valley-ringed Andermatt and Victorian-era Interlaken, you’ll wind through the entire country. In between zigzagging up high mountain passes and hopping over rushing rivers on trestle bridges, you’ll stop for hidden waterfalls, paddle-steamer cruises and horse-and-carriage rides. Your route will even bring you right under the colossal Rhône Glacier. They weren’t lying – this really is the Swiss railways at their absolute best.
Through the Swiss Alps
Caucasian VI 15-day luxury rail journey
Running only once every five years, this unique, steam-powered journey traces the original route of the Golden Eagle, looping out of Moscow and into southwest Russia. As you head down the Caucasus Range and along the Black Sea, you’ll venture well off the beaten track to uncover once-closed Soviet cities, mountain railways and revolutionary sites. Prices start from £10,275 pp. Call our specialists for details.
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