The_Wanderlust_Transmongoliano_Tania_Neves_1

Transmongolian with Tânia Neves

China, Mongolia and Russia

This journey is the mother or all journeys. A journey through time, crossing five time zones in three different countries. A cultural ride, where you’ll see different beliefs – from Buddhism to Shamanism. Different costumes, people speaking different languages from pasts apart. Dive in lake Baikal, the largest sweet water lake in the World, and enjoy horseback riding Mongolian wild horses on Mongolian steppes. You’ll be in close contact with people, whether through the intimate life in the train, or through the experience of living as a nomad in gers. At last, walking the Great Wall of China, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, will leave you on a high note at the end of this trip on the rails. Discover Moscow and Beijing, two huge metropolis and populated cities, but so contrasty on each other.

Come on board on the journey of a lifetime, on the most iconic railway of the World!

Highlights

  • Almost 8000kms on the most iconic railways in the world;
  • Three different countries in one single trip;
  • Visit lake Baikal, the World’s largest lake;
  • Live the ultimate nomad lifestyle, with Mongol families
  • Walk the Great Wall of China

Itinerary

Day 1 - [RUSSIA] Arriving in Moscowsee

Welcome to Moscow!

Moscow is one of the World’s largest capitals. However, despite its 12 million inhabitants within a 40kms radius, the feeling we get is one from a clean, organized and airy city. 40% of the urban area is made of green areas, the streets are wide, and the architecture is stunning.

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: -

Day 2 - [RUSSIA] Moscowsee

Today is our day to explore Moscow, so we’ll make the most of it.

Early morning, just after breakfast, we’ll walk to the Kremlin, and take the opportunity to photograph St. Basil’s Cathedral (200₽), and also visit Lenin’s mausoleum. We’ll have lunch at GUM, the most incredible shopping centre of all Eurasia, and afterwards we will spend the afternoon travelling in Moscow’s underground and visiting its museum-looking stations.

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: breakfast

Day 3 - [RUSSIA] Boarding the transiberiansee

After breakfast at the hotel, we make our way towards the Yaroslavski Vokzal, the train station where we will get our first train.

Departure time is 1.10pm. The provodnitsa, the ladies (and now, sometimes men too!) responsible for keeping the carriages all clean and in good shape, will show us our beds. Let’s get cozy: for the next 48h (and 56 minutes) this will be our new home.

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: breakfast

Day 4 - [RUSSIA] Onboardsee

Well explore our train amongst its turns and shaky ride. The bar-carriage is open everyday from 9am til 12am, local time. Local time however, is always uncertain, because whilst we travel along the lines, we’ll be travelling across different time zones as well. When we reach our destination (by tomorrow), we would have crossed four time zones.

Along the route, there will be a couple stops where we can leave the train and explore the surrounding areas: Druzhinino and Yekaterinburg. Yekaterinburg it the Easter-nest city in the Ural Mountains, and marks the beginning of Asia: welcome to your next continent!

Accommodation: kupe (train)

Meals: -

Day 5 - [RUSSIA] Arriving in Novosibirsksee

We arrive in Novosibirsk at 6.06pm, local time. At the station, the clocks will point to 2.06pm - because here in Russia, all trains work in Moscow time, not in local time. We’ve already crossed four time zones, and our journey has barely started.

Our hotel is conveniently located just next to the train station. We jump in the well-deserved showers, lay down on those comfortable non-shaking beds, and lastly, we have dinner in a restaurant of our choice, here in the capital of Siberia.

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: -

Day 6 - [RUSSIA] Novosibirsksee

Another free day, today completely of your choice. Our train is departing after midnight. So, just like Cinderella, we’ll enjoy the “ball” while we can. Museums, parks, libraries… Novosibirsk is a city were we will conveniently shake off the hardness of 48h inside a train. Together, or each one to their own, we’ll cease the day. Later, we meet back at the gigantic train station, already by night, where we can share stories under the huge palace-worthy chandeliers in the waiting lounges.

Train departs at 1.05am sharp.

Accommodation: kupe (train)

Meals: -

Day 7 - [SIBERIA] Onboardsee

Another full day in the train. During morning time, we can exit the train at Ilanskaya. Here we can visit a little train museum, inside the train station. We do however recommend you to leave your cameras behind, since photography is not allowed here. Rumour has it a Lonely Planer photographer was arrested here a few years ago, and we’d love you to complete de journey with us, preferably all the way until Beijing!

Accommodation: kupe (train)

Meals: -

Day 8 - [SIBERIA] Olkhon Islandsee

We will arrive at 10.43am to Irkutsk train station, and we’ll jump on the first bus to Olkhon Island.

When we arrive to our guesthouse, we’ll take some well-deserved showers, we’ll have dinner and then just relax. In the island, there isn’t much network coverage, there’s no wifi, no ATM, hardly any electricity. But there are billions of stars above us and new experiences awaiting at each turn.

Accommodation: guesthouse

Meals: -

Day 9 - [SIBERIA] Olkhon Islandsee

Today we’ll drive on a UAZ, a 4x4 Russian van, to the Northernness point of the island, Cape Khoboi, which is also the holiest shaman place in Baikal. It’s quite an impressive landscape, with steep sharp rocks plumbing into this water that reminds us of the ocean, but it’s sweet, like a lake.

We’ll have the traditional fish soup for lunch, with omul, the Baikal fish, and a tea made from local herbs. Both prepared to us by our driver, while we walk around the area.

Accommodation: guesthouse

Meals: breakfast and lunch

Day 10 - [SIBERIA] Irkutsksee

After breakfast, we’ll head back to Irkutsk. Today we’ll stay in a different accommodation, a hostel with capsule beds, in a completely refurbish traditional wood building. Their owners, Tony and Artem, hand-made every single item in this place. They have never left Irkutsk, but they have enough stories that cross the whole world.

By night we will walk to the 130 Kvartal, a neighbourhood-museum in traditional architecture, to help us understand why they call Irkutsk the “Paris of Siberia”.

Accommodation: hostel

Meals: breakfast

Day 11 - [SIBERIA] Irkutsksee

Despite not being contemplated in our programme, I recommend having breakfast in the little cafe next to our hostel, where they make a beautiful and yummy porridge, russia-style.

After we’ll go for a walk around the area. The regional museum has a very interesting collection, focus-ing in Siberian history and culture, with traditional attire, photos and music, as well as a little bit of the story and impact of the train line in the area.

Accommodation: hostel

Meals: -

Day 12 - [SIBERIA] Departure to UlaanBaatarsee

We’ll say goodbye to Tony and Artem, and go to the train station very early: our train departs at 8.08am, and get ready, this is the best part of the ride! Between kms 5185 and 5321, get your cameras ready: the steep curves and turns, combined with the inclination (the steepest of the whole line) make this the most photogenic stretch of the entire trip. Get on the left side of the train: ahead of you is lake Baikal, in all its glory, almost touching the train rails, while the train circles, in all its allure, heading towards the Mongolian border.

By night, look through the windows: this is most likely, one of the starriest sky on the planet!

Accommodation: kupe (train)

Meals: -

Day 13 - [MONGOLIA] UlaanBaatarsee

We arrive in UlaanBaatar at 6.50am. We can have something to eat near the train station, and then we will walk to our hotel. It’s early to check-in, so we can just drop our backpacks and walk to the centre, go for a walk, have lunch, and observe this city which is still torn between a large Asian capital and an old rumbled Asian city.

Later in de day, we will watch the Tumen Ekh Ensemble, a live show featuring the best of Mongolian culture and traditional performative arts: the incredible throat singing and swirly dances, as well as theatre and acrobatics.

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: -

Day 14 - [MONGOLIA] Mount Khogno Khansee

Today we’ll commence our nomad lifestyle experience. Early morning, our private van will come to pick us up, to take us across the Mongolian steppes. Our destination for today is the Mount Khohno Khan Natural Reserve, home to several species of birds, deers and gazelles. Here, we’ll walk up to Elsen Tasarkhai, also known as “middle gobi”, in a reference to the great Gobi desert down South.

At night, we’ll stay with a nomadic family in their gers, while we keep absorbing this lifestyle so different from ours.

Accommodation: family gear

Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 15 - [MONGOLIA] Gorkhi-Terelj National Parksee

From sand-dunes to the forest, today we head to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, where we will also see the famous “Turtle Rock”, a granitic formation that emerges out of the landscape, just like if it has been sculpted by nature itself.

A new location, a new family, the same nomadic lifestyle: by night we’ll go back to our gers and spend the night Mongolian style, under the starry sky.

Accommodation: family ger

Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 16 - [MONGOLIA] Gorkhi-Terelj National Parksee

Before heading back to UlaanBaatar we still get to go horseback riding around the area. Later, we’ll also visit the Ghenghiis Khaan Complex, which is said to be the world’s highest equestrian statue. We’ll get up to his head for the view, and come back down to his feet for the museum collection, that features items from times as distance as the Bronze Era.

Soaked in so much History, it’s time to go back to the city, where we’ll check back in to our hotel.

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: pequeno-almoço e almoço

Day 17 - [MONGOLIA] UlaanBaatarsee

Free day today, to use wisely: we’ll split between launderettes, museums, temples and markets. Mongolia is a nice place for souvenirs, and the post office is conveniently located in the city centre. Time to send some post to our family and friends!

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: breakfast

Day 18 - [MONGOLIA] Departure to Beijingsee

One more train ride, the last from our transmongolian journey.

The most exquisite part of the actual train ride is probably the border between Mongolia and China. The train rail has different sizes, so the compositions must change their wheels. All carriages are taken apart in a huge factory-like facility, where they also change the locomotive and bar carriages. Then, the bottom parts of the carriages are taken out, and the roll in the new wheels. The interesting fact, is that all this happens whilst we sit still in our private compartments.

Accommodation: kupe (train)

Meals: -

Day 19 - [CHINA] Beijingsee

China - Beijing. The land where there’s no Google, no Facebook, no Twitter. Chinese people have strange habits, they love “selfying” with tourists, eating fried scorpions and smoking everywhere. Beijing is a long distance away from the chique Moscow we seen eight time zones ago.

We stay in a hotel that oozes Chinese culture, right in the heart of Beijing. We still have time to walk around the streets, and I suggest at night you try the famous Beijing Duck!

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: -

Day 20 - [CHINA] Great Wall of Chinasee

Early morning, we start our long way to the Great Wall of China, where we’ll spend the entire day. It’s a long ride (around 2h), but it’s well worth it! Waving through the mountains, this millennial and overpower-ing fortifications were built to protect the Chinese people against the Mongol invaders.

Today, this wall is still a challenge to climb and to cross. To reach the top, we have no less than 4000 steps ahead of us. But of course, in the famous Chinese fashion, there’s a cable car to the top. My ad-vice is: save your 100¥ and hit the steps, since the views are well worthier of those who will conquer it!

Accommodation: hotel

Meals: breakfast

Day 21 - [CHINA] Departure from Beijingsee

It’s over! It’s been three weeks, five time zones, three countries, two continents and many, many new experiences. You can now buy a notebook to start writing down and your travel notes. Don’t forget to share with us your photos, chronicles, and above all, your will to keep on travelling!

See you next time :)

Accommodation: -

Meals: breakfast

What is included?

  • Days: 21
  • 20 nights accommodation: 7 nights in hotels, 6 nights on the train, 2 nights in guesthouses, 2 nights in a hostel, 2 nights in family gers;
  • Transportation: 4 train rides; 2 shuttles between Irkutsk and Lago Baikal; exploration on a 4x4 on lake Baikal; 3 days exploration on a 4x4 in Mongolia; 1 day horseback riding in Mongolia; 2 Ferry boat trips to lake Baikal; 2 bus rides to the Great Wall of China.
  • 12 Meals: 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches e 2 dinners
  • Activities: all activities mentioned on the programme;
  • Insurance during the days of the programme;
  • Local guide/translator in Mongolia
  • Monitoring and guidance throughout the journey by Tânia Neves
  • Groups: April - 6 (minimum) to 7 (maximum) | August 6 (minimum) to 12 (maximum)

Wanderluster

What is not included?

  • International airfare (+/-700€)
  • Visas: Rússia 35€ (double entry) + 15€ invitation letter; Mongolia 99€ + admin fees (some passports don’t need visa); China 60€
  • Single supplement: not available
  • Non specified meals (30€/day);
  • Exrta activities
  • Non specified visits
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips and gratitudes

Next Dates

23 April to 13 May 2018 2050€ Available
13 August to 2 September 2018 2150€ Available