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Ruski Huski - Westbound

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Beijing
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Ruski Huski - Westbound

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St. Petersburg

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Wat is inbegrepen?
Think you know winter? Think again.

Leave the North Pole to Santa and get yourself to Siberia for a winter adventure you’ll never forget. Kick things off in Beijing and explore the wonderful patchwork of old and new; imperial palaces are quite the sight under a fresh dusting of snow. Travel north into Mongolia, horse ride across the frozen steppe and get cosy in your nomadic ger while cooking up traditional Buuz. Roll into Russia and experience a wilderness adventure; walk on a metre-thick ice sheet, so clear you can see the ancient lake beneath, and enjoy adrenaline fuelled activities amid glistening landscapes. Warm up in a banya before spanning Mother Russia and encountering the grandeur of her largest cities.
Prijs per persoon 2.585 EUR
Dit is zonder vliegtickets. Wij helpen je graag om de goedkoopste tickets te vinden. De prijs hierboven is per persoon, maar gebaseerd op 2 volwassenen die samen reizen.
Wat is inbegrepen?
Reisroute

Ruski Huski - Westbound

Days 1-2: Beijing

Arrive in Beijing and meet your fellow travellers. Check out the Forbidden City for a window into Imperial times, sink your teeth into Chinese culture with a visit to Tiananmen Square and an exploration of the hutong neighbourhoods. Hutongs were first established during the Yuan Dynasty; many of these alleys are protected today to preserve traditional culture. Once your fingers have frozen, warm up over a steaming bowl bursting with exotic spices in one of the many colourful markets or neon-lit laneways.

Day 3: Trans Mongolian Railway

Your first taste of the world-renowned Trans Mongolian Railway. Sit back, relax and watch the magical landscapes from your window. Look out for Bactrian camels and yaks, their winter coats visible against the snowy steppe. Keep your eyes peeled for nomadic settlements, smoke rising from each tent as families stay warm inside.

Days 4-5: Ulaanbaatar and to Terelj National Park

Arrive in the capital and transfer to the nature reserve. Once in the domain of the nomads, settle into ger life. The roaring pot belly stove will keep the tent cosy, a wonderful place to return to after a walk in the wilderness or an afternoon tobogganing across the sparkling terrain.

It’s here you can try cooking traditional Buuz - a meaty dumpling, or sample some fermented mare’s milk - a great way to beat the winter chill.

Day 6: Trans Mongolian Railway

We leave the white expanse for the glow of the Trans Siberian Railway. We’ll take a detour on the way to the train to visit the man himself – the mighty Genghis Khan! An artistic masterpiece, his silvery enormity shimmering in the white light of winter.

On board, get to know your group over a tasty meal from the dining car and plan what activities you’d like to do once in the heartland of Siberia.

Days 7-9: Irkutsk and Lake Baikal

Welcome to Russia and the pearl of Siberia. Settle into your shore-side home at Lake Baikal and take a stroll over its frozen surface as you soak up the beauty of this icy delight. The lake stretches on to an infinite horizon, no wonder ancient Chinese travellers called it ‘the North Sea’. The crystalline ice-sheet is filled with interesting patterns of bubbles and waves as the water froze in time. Walk, drive and hover over the ice, try ice fishing, dog-sledding or snowmobiling before getting blood back into your extremities in a traditional banya (a steamy sauna with an optional birch branch bashing).

Days 10-13: Trans Siberian Railway

The cultural capital of Siberia, Irkutsk began life as a winter outpost for tea and fur traders. It expanded during Russia’s revolutions as opposing elites and intellectuals were exiled here. During this time a signature style of architecture decorated the city in wooden latticework. Today, Irkutsk is a bustling university town with plenty to explore before boarding the train to Moscow.

Back on the cosy train, choose your own pace. Relax and contemplate what you’ve discovered so far and plan what you want to do next. Push yourself to communicate with Russian travellers, learn some new words and get inventive with sign language; you’ll find yourself laughing with locals over shared snacks in no time. Hop off at stations along the way to sample food from Babushkas, we can’t promise healthy fare, but it will be a welcome break from your 2-minute noodles. Check how long the train is stopping first, you don’t want to be left behind on an icy platform in a blizzard.

Days 14-15: Moscow

See the candy coloured domes of St Basil’s sugar-coated under a dusting of snow - it’ll make you feel like you’ve wandered into a fairytale. Ask your Honcho about visiting the markets; there are lots on over the festive period in Gorky Park, Red Square, and Sokolniki. Whizz around Red Square on ice skates if the Christmas rink is there or take the palatial metro to VDNH Park for a bigger rink with ice sculptures and light shows. If the cold gets a bit bitey, head to Tverskaya street and hunker down in one of the cosy cafes and restaurants that line the street. Sample some hearty local food with a synonymous accompaniment, vodka.

Day 16: Moscow and to St. Petersburg

Wave goodbye to Moscow as you board your final Russian train. Take a moment to relax before hitting the cultural capital of Russia.

Days 17-19: St. Petersburg

Congratulations, you’ve just completed 8,515 km over icy tundra and three diverse snow-covered countries. That’s worth celebrating, and there’s plenty of places to do so in St. Petes.

Perhaps begin with a wander along the frozen Neva river or canals - parents will be teaching their little ones to skate on the picturesque canals that weave through the city. Descend into underground palaces on the metro and find yourself surrounded by marble pillars, ornate chandeliers and classical frescos. Stroll down Nevsky Prospect, and take in the magnificence of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Visit the Hermitage Museum, in the suitably named Winter Palace, for a taste of Tsar life.

Discover an experimental art scene, cosy wine bars, great tea houses and a multicultural food offering, then get to grips with local nightlife in live music venues and pulsating clubs. A local punk musician recently summed up the thriving creative scene by saying “in a city of three revolutions, you’re bound to get a fourth”.

Extend your experience: Now that you’re in Europe, continue your journey east to other winter delights like Prague, Budapest and Vienna.

Inclusions

- Visa support for pre-booked services

- Accommodation nights
7 hostel (shared), 2 Siberian guesthouse (shared), 2 ger camp (shared), 7 train (4-berth)

- Tickets and transfers
All train tickets and included. Once you have joined the group, all arrival transfers are included.

- Honchos
Local legends that help you hit the highlights and the hidden gems. They are included at every stop on your journey.

- Sightseeing
With no pre-arranged sightseeing, you have complete freedom to roam. Stay with your group or explore on your own.

- Expertise
Our friendly bunch of specialist Travel Advisors are hand to support you with all the essentials, such as travel insurance, flights, Visa applications and destination information.

Please note: arrival transfer on Day 1 and departure transfer at the end of your itinerary are not included.
Overzicht

Wat is inbegrepen?

Extra kosten tijdens tour
None

Activiteiten

Your honcho can organise snowy winter activities like ice skating, snowboarding, skiing and snowmobiling. Skijoring might sound crazy, maybe it is, or maybe it will be the highlight of your trip. It’s simple - just snap on a couple of skis, harness yourself to a few speedy dogs and yell out 'Davai' (Russian for "go"). Then hold on for your life as you carve across snowy Siberian fields at speeds very few have ever experienced. Sure beats a day at the office!

Accommodatie

Carriages (Wagons):
Each 4-berth carriage has about 9 compartments and sleeping arrangements for 2 attendants. Your carriage attendants (conductors) are there to provide information, make sure the hot water is available, keep communal areas clean and tidy and shepherd passengers back on the train when it’s ready to leave. Although they rarely speak English, they are adept at sign language and great fun! Without doubt, they are one of the most important elements of your rail adventure. The bathrooms are small but adequate, containing a sink with running water and a toilet (western-style mostly or squat-style on some Chinese trains). In our experience, the bathrooms are spacious enough to have a strip-wash and also to wash your hair if you wish. Most trains do not have shower facilities and you should expect to go without showers on all train sectors.

Compartments:
Compartments contain 4 comfortable berths, with ample room to stretch out or sit up. There is a small table in the middle under the window, individual reading lights for each berth and on Chinese trains there are often thermos flasks of hot water also. In each compartment there can be a mix of group members and local travellers (mixed sex), the perfect opportunity to experience daily life aboard a transcontinental train.

Off the train:
A mixture of hotels, hostels, local guesthouses and traditional gers (Trans Mongolian) or Yurts (Silk Road) are used. The emphasis is on good value, cleanliness and friendly hosts. Your accommodation for every night of the itinerary is included in the price. We've chosen them for their character and with your costs in mind. Sometimes you will be in multi share but mostly twin share, with a mixture of private and shared bathroom facilities. We cannot guarantee that you will have private facilities.

Lokaal vervoer

Trains along the Trans Siberian, Trans Mongolian, Silk Road and within India are a destination in themselves. Along with ideas, religions and an enormous variety of goods, these trains ferry families, traders, students, soldiers, business people, travellers, monks & acrobats... You name it, they're on it and there is a good chance you'll be sharing with them at some stage of the journey.

Let's get something straight from the start: These are not chartered trains but scheduled services. Overnight accommodation is in four-share sleeping compartments - two upper and two lower bunks. Depending on group size, you may be sharing with other group members, or with local travellers. Don't be afraid to say hello!

Compartments have bedding, reading lights, a big window, a small table, room for a rucksack or two and if you're REALLY lucky - a vase with a plastic flower. Carriages have two washrooms (no showers), boiling water and a couple of friendly attendants... Each train has its own personality and regulars, so check out the dossier for specifics.

Maaltijden

In keeping with the "no-inclusions-keeping-the-cost-down" policy and keeping your journey flexible - there are no meals included in your Vodkatrain journey (you might get lucky with a hotel breakfast - but once you've tried one, you'll see why we don't include them). Here you will find usefull advice how not to go hungry!

Eating on the train:
Most trains have a restaurant car located in the middle of the train. These cars are open from breakfast till dinner most days and operate on local time. Chinese and Mongolian trains serve standard local fare, including rice, vegetables, chicken and mutton (Mongolian specialty). Russian and Uzbek trains serve soup, salad and meat mains. The restaurant is waited and restaurant staff will point out which menu items are available. Prices in China and Uzbekistan are reasonable, but can reach US$10 for a meal in Russia. There is usually a vegetarian option.

Platform food:
A great way to feed yourself (and anyone sharing your compartment) is to buy home cooked food from the "Babushkas" (grandmothers) selling home grown and cooked food, out of date processed food and everything from stuffed toys to chandeliers on train platforms across Russia. Seasonal fruit and berries are also a big hit with commuters. Chinese platforms have food carts offering everything from pickled pig snout and chicken feet to noodles and more recognisable dishes. Just make sure you check the hygiene situation before handing over the cash. Follow the simple travellers food rule - peel it, cook it or wash it and avoid nasty tummy bugs. Watch out for delicious fish that may have been re-smoked, products that are way out of date and Babushka hygiene when buying platform food… is that FRESH horse milk?

The train from Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk (and vice versa) and many of the trains in Central Asia do not have restaurant cars. There are also few opportunities to buy food on the platforms and you will need to buy enough food for the journey before you board.

Self-catering:
A constant supply of hot water means noodles, instant mash, tea and coffee are all great options for those playing it safe. There is a good selection of fruit, vegetables, bread, noodles and deli food in all cities so self catering on the trains is no problem. Most locals self-cater and will often insist you eat with them!

Houd er rekening mee

Trains are generally not designed for travellers taking photos! While the compartment windows are great to watch the Gobi desert, the Tien Shan mountain range of Kazakstan or Siberia pass by - if you are really keen on photos from the train, take a squeegee and window cleaner to avoid disappointment. Attendants are more concerned with cleaning the hand rails and signs at stations, but you could try slipping them a couple of bucks to clean the windows as well - it has worked in the past.

What are "Honchos"?
Young, fun and energetic - your local Honcho is a friend in a distant city ready to share their life with you for a couple of days. A regular tour operator might call them tour guides or city guides, but they’re not, they’re Honchos. Honchos have grown up in their city and love showing you around, not just the tourist sites (they are important too!) but the real heartbeat of the city, its people and those underground places you normally need weeks to find. They're not libraries of local history, but can definitely show you where to find one. They can show you how to use local transportation, where to change money, their favourite cafes, bars and restaurants, can translate all the latest gossip and if there is something they don't know they have the language skills to find out. Your Honcho probably has some ideas about what you should see in their city - but there is no pressure to do any suggested activities. If you want to do your own thing they will help you with directions, a few local sayings or maybe scrawl a basic map on a napkin, and then leave you to it!