Naadam Festival Naadam Ceremony

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express – Naadam Festival (Eastbound)

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Trip Departure Date:

July 1-13, 2017

Russia by Private Train Onboard The Golden Eagle Trans-Mongolian Express Eastbound featuring the Naadam Festival.

The Naadam Festival is the one and only Big Event in Mongolia – a lively national festival, held every year in July. Naadam means “three manly games” and is often referred to as the world’s second-oldest Olympics, it celebrates the definition of civilization in the Steppes eight centuries ago; archery, wrestling and horse riding. The competitors in the riding events are all children aged between five and twelve, many of whom have been in the saddle since the age of one. As they race along the plains for 20kms, thousands of spectators line the remote track to watch up to 650 children sitting confidently astride their small but sturdy Mongolian steeds. It is claimed that such equestrian skills won Genghis Khan an empire that stretched from the Sea of Japan all the way to Europe.  

In recent times, women have been allowed to enter and they now compete in two of the three events, horse racing and archery. Once a religious ceremony, the festival now formally commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country.

This is a unique opportunity to be among the few non-Mongolians to experience this spectacular but little known festival and soak up the exciting atmosphere of this national holiday. The journey combines the Naadam Festival with an amazing overland journey from Moscow on board the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express private train.

Download Itinerary PDF Here.

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

Silver Class: $15,895.00 per person, double occupancy.                                                $23,495.00 single occupancy                           Gold Class: $19,595.00 per person, double occupancy                                                 $28,695.00 single occupancy                           Imperial Suite: $30,995.00 per person, double occupancy                                                Single occupancy on request.     Prices are per person for the fully inclusive tour Moscow to Ulaan Baatar. Air-fare is not included. Prices are subject to change until deposit is received.

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Arrive at Moscow Airport, where you are met and transferred to the luxury five-star Ritz-Carlton. 

Superbly located in Moscow city centre, and within easy walking distance of Red Square, the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Theatre, this historic hotel offers spacious and luxurious accommodation. The O2 Lounge, a stylish rooftop terrace, features panoramic views over the Red Square and the Kremlin. The spacious ESPA spa centre includes a hot tub, indoor pool, and 14 treatment rooms. Crystal lighting, candles and beautiful facilities create the perfect atmosphere, and a wide variety of spa treatments, as well as the sauna, are available. There is also a fitness centre, and a beauty salon.

You’ll enjoy a welcome reception dinner at your hotel, whilst you meet your fellow travellers and anticipate the epic 13 day voyage that lies ahead. 

Day 2
Moscow | Moscow

Your touring program of Moscow principally takes you to the grandeur of the Kremlin – the spiritual, historical and political heart of Moscow – and to see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber. You also visit Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, such as the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful facade of the world famous GUM department store, constructed in Tsarist times, and the sombre and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb.

 

With your Freedom of Choice touring option you may instead wish to travel out of the city centre to Sergiev Posad, home to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Russia and the historical and spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church or visit the famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art).

Day 3
Kazan | Kazan

Situated on the River Volga, the picturesque and historic city of Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan. Here you have the opportunity to see for yourself its rich tapestry of history and culture. One of the highlights of this city tour is your exploration of the Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the walls of this ancient citadel you will explore its stunning mosque and picture-perfect onion-domed cathedral.

As Kazan is the birthplace of one of Russia’s most famous opera singers, Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938), you honor his memory with a private concert of his music. You will also have time to wander through the main pedestrian area of Kazan and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city.

Day 4
Yekaterinburg | Yekaterinburg

Founded in 1723 by Peter the Great, Yekaterinburg, is the capital of the Urals. Known as the Great Divide, the Ural Mountains create the natural border between Europe and Asia so that the cultural and architectural influences of European and Asian civilizations come together in this fascinating and cosmopolitan landscape. Your city tour takes you to the poignant site where the Romanov, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, was executed with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918 following 78 days of imprisonment. Now a church dedicated to their memory, this site provides you with a powerful insight into the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.

Your Freedom of Choice program will also offer activities such as a walking tour of the city, or explore the intriguing Soviet military past in a visit to Yekaterinburg Military Museum which displays fragments of the U2 American spy-plane flown by Gary Powers that was shot down in this area in 1960 during the Cold War.

Day 5
Novosibirsk | Novosibirsk

A modern ‘Soviet’ city, you experience the life and character of Novosibirsk’s rich culture where the arts and science predominate. The city is located in the heart of Russia and is situated on both banks of the River Ob. Your city tour takes you to Lenin Square where the imposing Opera House is located. An architectural marvel, it houses two permanent ballet and opera companies and is one of the largest opera houses in the world. In front of the Opera House, you visit an impressive statue of Lenin – a marvelous opportunity to have your photograph taken with this iconic political leader.

Alternatively, south of the city you could visit Novosibirsk’s excellent Railway Museum on our Freedom of Choice tour. The museum displays locomotives and rolling stock from the late 1800s, including carriages of the Tsars, through to the Soviet era. Or choose to go to the Mineralogical Centre with its fine display of Siberian minerals.

For those interested in art there is also the Freedom of Choice option to visit the State Art Museum with an extensive collection including icons, Siberian art and numerous distinctive mountain landscapes by celebrated spiritual Russian painter Nicholas Roerich. It also displays temporary art and photography exhibitions by local and international artists.

Day 6
Onboard | Onboard

A day to unwind and reflect on the sights you have experienced on the journey so far.  Take the time to chat with 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 | Irkutsk

Your visit to Irkutsk, the ‘Paris of Siberia’, takes in the most significant sites and museums in this fascinating city, including an exploration of the classic wooden architecture with its intricately carved lace-like decorations that has given many of this region’s buildings such a distinctive and unique appearance.

You also visit the Volkonsky House Museum, which is dedicated to the memory of the aristocrats who were exiled to this remote outpost after the failed Decembrists uprising of 1825, and you recreate the atmosphere of that time with a champagne reception and private concert.

You could learn to cook some traditional Russian dishes with a local chef and prepare your own lunch with our Freedom of Choice option. Or you might also wish to visit a traditional Russian Dacha (summer house) or an urban apartment to get an insight into the everyday life of an average Russian family.

Day 8
Lake Baikal | Lake Baikal

Few natural sights can surpass the beauty and grandeur of Lake Baikal and is a major highlight on our Trans-Mongolian journey. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and holds 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater. Also known as the ‘Pearl of Siberia’ it is home to a unique breed of freshwater seal and over 50 species of fish including omul. For five hours you wind your way through tunnels along cliff hugging tracks above the lake with a vista of snowcapped peaks along the far shore forming a picture-perfect backdrop.

To add to the grandeur of the day your Golden Eagle train will be hauled by a Soviet era steam locomotive on this beautiful section of the line. There will be plenty of opportunities to take photographs as the train winds its way along the lake's edge. This will be an unforgettable part of the journey.

Weather permitting, you stop in an extremely picturesque location by the lake for photographic opportunities and for the brave hearted there is time for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear and ice-cold waters of Baikal. Travelling onwards to the end of the Baikal branch line, you leave the train and travel by boat on the lake to Listvyanka, a small Baikal settlement nestling at the base of the surrounding hills and visit the Lake Baikal Museum and Aquarium where you can learn about the flora and fauna of the lake.

You will enjoy a delicious barbecue, including freshly smoked omul fish, prepared by your own chefs on the shore of Lake Baikal to complete a memorable day. As part of your Freedom of Choice excursion program you can choose a hiking opportunity up Chersky Mount that offers some spectacular and panoramic hillside views of the lake below.

Day 9
Ulan Ude | Ulan Ude

The ethnic and cultural diversity of Ulan Ude, the capital of the Buryat Republic, offers a unique insight into its heritage. As you tour the area you will notice the different faces of these welcoming Buryat people. During our exploration of the Old Believers’ Village you have the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of these religious people as you are treated to a concert featuring local traditions and folk singing.

Day 10
Ulaan Baatar | Ulaan Baatar

Your Trans-Mongolian adventure takes you into Mongolia and a 3 night stay in its capital, Ulaan Baatar. Mongolia, once the very centre of an enormous empire led by Genghis Khan, is a country of beautiful landscapes and nomadic people, rich in culture and history. Mongolia is famous for its endless green Steppes, grazing livestock and white, nomadic Gers (Yurts) dotted all across the countryside.

You’ll have a short tour of Ulaan Baatar visiting the Gandan Monastery, one of Mongolia's most important Buddhist Monasteries housing a community of over 500 monks. The full name, Gandantegchinlen, translates as 'the great place of complete joy'. At Sukhbaatar Square you can see the central monument to Genghis Khan; undoubtedly the most feared and revered Mongol. 

Day 11
Ulaan Baatar | Ulaan Baatar

On the first day of the Naadam Festival, you’ll observe the elaborate opening ceremony which consists of local dancers, athletes, horse riders and musicians, before traveling outside Ulaan Baatar to watch the national horse race. The competitors in the riding events are all children between five and twelve, many of whom have been in the saddle since the age of one. As they race along the plains for 20 kilometres, thousands of spectators line the remote track to watch up to 1,000 horses with children sitting confidently astride their small but sturdy Mongolian steed. It is claimed such equestrian skills won Genghis Khan an empire that stretched from the Sea of Japan all the way to Europe.

In the evening you will enjoy a performance of traditional Mongolian throat singing and contortionists.

Day 12
Ulaan Baatar | Ulaan Baatar

This is a unique opportunity to be among the few non-Mongolians to experience the spectacular, but little known, Naadam Festival and soak up the exciting atmosphere of this national holiday. Once a religious ceremony, the festival now formally commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country. In recent times, women have been allowed to enter and they now compete in two of the three events, horse racing and archery.

Today is the day for all the main competitions and you will attend the archery, wrestling and ankle-bone shooting events.

Due to the popularity of the period around the Naadam Festival we reserve accommodations for our guests at a number of the best hotels in Ulaan Baatar including the Kempinski and Ramada. Please note, we cannot guarantee your preferred choice of hotel.

Day 13
Departure | Departure

Breakfast is served in the hotel and transfers are provided to the airport for departing flights.

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