We could do the Moscow-Beijing train journey with the Trans-Mongolian in 5½ days but we decided to take 6 weeks. We wanted to stay 30 days in Russia (which is the maximum visa duration) and 2 weeks in Mongolia. After deciding which stops to do along the journey, I started drafting a first tentative programme, which I sent to a few travel agencies. It seems indeed a bit difficult to organize a trip with so many different stops (in places sometimes a bit “out of the beaten tracks” such as Perm, Tobolsk, Tomsk and the Barguzin Valley) by ourselves.
After the initial feedbacks from the different agencies (with great recommendations), I came up with a final programme, which I then sent to the 5 most responsive agencies. I then chose the most competitive one: Est’Capade. I must admit that it was not an easy trip to organize. I want to thank Frédérique from Est’Capade, Matt from Monkeyshrine, Natalia from Explorussia and Yulia from Tsars Voyages for their help and advice.
It was sometimes tedious to organize such trip but some of the comments of the people from the travel agencies really comfort me that it was worth the effort:
- “Your program is very intensive and you cover such cities that not every Russian person knows. I would be excited myself to have such a tour!”
- “Je trouve votre parcours particulièrement riche et intéressant. C’est un magnifique voyage.”
- “It is quite possibly the most complex itinerary I have come across in 20 years.”
So our trip is the following – see below picture (the places where we stay at least one night are framed):
Moscow – Vladimir – Suzdal – Vladimir – Perm – Maly Turish – Iekaterinburg – Tobolsk – Tomsk – Irkutsk – Ulan-Ude – Barguzin Valley – Ulanbaatar – Beijing.
We ended up with 10 different train tickets.
- Moscow – Vladimir
- Vladimir – Perm
- Yekaterinburg – Tobolsk
- Tobolsk – Tyumen
- Tyumen – Yurga (from where we go to Tomsk)
- Tomsk – Tayga
- Tayga – Irkutsk
- Irkutsk – Ulan-Ude
- Ulan-Ude – Ulaanbaatar
- Ulaanbaatar – Beijing
Plus also some car/bus trips such as Perm – Maly Turish, Maly Turish – Ekaterinburg and Yurga – Tomsk.
The trip is well balanced in terms of accommodation: we’ll spend 6 nights in the train, 6 nights in local homestays, 5 nights in hotels and 5 nights in guesthouse.
A few words about Est’Capade, the agency that organized our trip. They are based in Moscow. The (French) owner, Frédérique, has lived in Moscow for 25 years and is very knowledgeable about the Trans-Siberian trains. It was a pleasure to interact with her and she was very flexible in always trying to accommodate my (numerous) requests and changes.
Besides, Frédérique was very helpful also when it ca meto book our tickets for the Nikulin circus and the Bolshoi Theatre.
I would highly recommend her services. Est’Capade: www.estcapade.com.
PS: For the stay in Mongolia, I used a Belgian travel agency to organize a trip to to the Tsaatan reindeer herders: Sens Inverse. More info on this trip when we are in Mongolia.