Moscow to Vladivostok Aboard the Golden Eagle
The seldom-traveled Baikal-Amur Magistral (BAM for short) runs up and over the top of UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal and east through some of the most remote, roadless taiga in the country, through the radiant Sayan and dramatic Kodra Mountains (sometimes called the “Russian Alps”), and over miles of tundra where lichen and tiny bushes struggle for a foothold on the permafrost. The train stops at crumbling little towns thrown together in the 1970s for railroad workers, where the people who remain have grown accustomed to the harsh winters and the lagging economy and stay for the beauty of the Siberian outback.
Outside the windows of the train is some of the most glorious and unspoiled scenery in the world, like what you see from the regular Trans-Siberian times ten. For example, setting foot on the shore of Siberia’s great Lake Baikal is a heady experience. But setting foot on the remote northern shore of the crescent-shaped lake is downright intoxicating. A tiny percentage of the earth’s humans have been here, most of them railroad workers and miners. Travelers can have this precious experience, rolling through the heart of remote Siberia on a BAM rail journey by private train.
Also available are:
- Classic Route Eastbound departure from Moscow to Vladivostok
- Classic Route Westbound departures from Vladivostok to Moscow
- A winter departure from Moscow to Vladivostok
- An eastbound and westbound Mongolian Route program between Moscow and Ulaanbaatar that features the Naadam Festival
- A shorter Baikal Express Route from Moscow to Irkutsk
- A shorter Ulaanbaatar Express Route from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar
Photos and details: Discover what life is like aboard the Golden Eagle.
Days 1-2: Moscow (Russia)
After arrival and a night in a five-star hotel, start the day with a visit to Moscow’s Red Square, taking in iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral and the massive Kremlin, where you can tour the Armory Museum, a storehouse of national treasures. If you’re intrigued by art, you may opt instead to tour the Tretyakov Gallery, which has a collection spanning a millennium of Russian works. In the afternoon depart Moscow aboard the luxury Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express private train.
- Red Square, the heart of Moscow and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The treasures of the Armory Museum, from Faberge eggs to the ivory throne of Ivan the Terrible
- The Tretyakov Gallery, home to the world’s most extensive collection of Russian art
Days 3-4: Kirov, Ekaterinburg
Make a stop along the Vyatka River in Kirov, an industrial city founded in 1374 by traders from Novgorod. The city was known as a place for political prisoners in the 19th century and is called the “city of twins” due to its high number of multiple births. The next stop marks the transition from Europe into Asia, on the eastern side of the Ural Mountains in Ekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city. Visit the Church on the Blood, built on the spot where the last czar, Nicholas II, and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks in July of 1918.
- The industrial port city of Kirov
- Ekaterinburg’s Church on the Blood, consecrated in 2003 on the site where Bolsheviks executed Czar Nicholas II and his family
Day 5: Novosibirsk
Stop in Novosibirsk, which thanks to the influence of the Trans-Siberian railway grew into Siberia’s biggest city. Its opera house on Lenin Square is the largest in Russia. The town sits on the Ob River, 2,300 miles from its mouth in the Arctic.
- The daunting scale of Lenin Square, with its domed opera house – nicknamed the Siberian Colosseum – and giant Soviet-era statues
Days 6-7: Abakan, Aboard Train through the Sayan Mountains, Bratsk
Start with a brief stop in Abakan – capital of Russia’s Khakass Republic. Then enjoy a relaxing day on board the train as it heads east through the Sayan Mountains. The train will travel through the night to Taishet on a rail segment that runs parallel to the Trans-Siberian line for some 150 miles. Your first stop on the BAM route will be in Bratsk, located on the Angara River. Spend several hours here visiting one of the largest hydro-electric dams in the world.
- Start of the BAM (Bail-Amur Magistral) rail line that runs north and parallel to the original Trans-Siberian line
- Visit the massive Bratsk Dam, the largest hydro-electric dam in the world when it was built in 1961
Day 8: Severobaikalsk
Today the Golden Eagle hits the remote northern end of UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake. Hop off the train in Severobaikalsk and spend the day exploring the lake shore and meeting local people. Sometime after leaving, the train will pass either through the 10-mile-long Severomuysk tunnel (conditions permitting) or via a bypass.
- Visit the town of Severobaikalsk on the remote northern end of UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, exploring the unique biodiversity of the area and meeting some locals
- Travel through the 10-mile-long Severomuysk tunnel, which opened in 2004 (conditions permitting)
Days 9-10: Novoya Chara, Neryungri
The next few stops will be in Novoya Chara, known to alpinists and climbers as a jumping-off place to the dramatic rocky peaks of the Koda Mountains (sometimes called the “Siberian Alps”), and Neryungri, home to one of the world’s largest open cast mines.
- Spend part of the day in Novoya Chara, famous for charoite – a semi-precious, lilac-colored gemstone found only in the Chara area
- Wander a small museum in Novoya Chara dedicated to the history of the area and the Marble Canyon Gulag, one of Stalin’s infamous gulags
- Visit the world’s largest open cast mine, looking out for the massive 2,300 horsepower trucks that bring 200 tons of coal up from the mine at a time
Days 11-12: Yakutsk, Tynda
Arrive in Yakutsk, the capital city of the Sakha Republic located about 280 miles south of the Arctic Circle on the Lena River. With an average temperature of 16.2 degrees Farenheit, it is the second coldest large city in the world and the largest city located on continuous permafrost. Continue heading southeast to Tynda, descending along hairpin switchbacks through the gorgeous Koda Mountains. Located at the crossroads of the BAM and main lines of the Tran-Siberian, Tynda’s life is tied to the railroad.
- Stop in Nizhny Bestyak, the train station for Yakutsk
- Visit the BAM museum in Tynda, which contains exhibits and photos illustrating the construction of the railroad as well as artifacts of the native Evenk people
Days 13-14: Novy Urgal, Komsomolsk na Amur, Aboard Train
Continue traveling through untouched tundra, experiencing Russia at its most remotely beautiful. Here, the extreme geography and climate make the region a struggle for human existence. At the eastern end of the BAM line is Novy Urgal, a town that will metaphorically transport you back to Soviet times. Little has changed here since, and nostalgia for the USSR is apparent. In Komsomolsk, take in the expansive Soviet-era architecture before turning southwest towards the Pacific, crossing the Amur River at Khabarovsk to re-join the main Trans-Siberian Line.
- In the remote tundra, stop in Novy Urgal to witness an isolated place little changed since its nostalgic Soviet-era past
- Visit Komsomolsk, with its expansive Soviet-era urban architecture and history as the gulag capital of the Russian Far East
- Reach the easternmost point of the BAM route today and enjoy a final dinner onboard the train
Days 15-16: Vladivostok
Disembark in Vladivostok, the Trans-Siberian line’s eastern terminus, and tour the city, which was once off limits to outside visitors. Transfer to a four-star hotel for a one-night stay and a farewell dinner.
- Vladivostok’s 1912 train station, built in classic Russian style that closely resembles the station in Moscow, 5,771 miles away, where the Trans-Siberian journey began
- The observation platform on Eagle’s Nest Hill, which provides an expansive view of Vladivostok and Golden Horn Bay
- A tour of the S-56, a Soviet submarine that saw extensive action in WWII, at the Pacific Navy Military History Museum
Dates & Prices
Minimum group size: Minimums vary – call for confirmation status
Land Tour Price, Per Person.
May 28 - June 12Silver Class, double occupancy$19,395Silver Class, single occupancy$28,995Gold Class, double occupancy$23,795Gold Class, single occupancy$39,495Imperial Suite Class, double occupancy$42,195Imperial Suite Class, single occupancy$84,295
- Accommodations, as noted in the itinerary.
- All meals, from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on final tour day, including a generous allowance of wine, local beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner.
- Arrival/departure transfers, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates and in the tour start/end cities.
- All guided off-train tours, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Services of an experienced Train Tour Manager as well as local guides for scheduled off-train tours.
- Complimentary tea, coffee, and mineral water from your car attendant at all times while on board the train.
- All gratuities.
- Baggage handling.
- Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
- Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost.)
- International airfare, including taxes/fuel surcharges, and surface transport to the point of joining/leaving the tour. MIR is able to assist with arrangements, as detailed in the itinerary.
- Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
- Single supplement (difference between double rate and single occupancy rate) if requested or required.
- Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
- Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
- Visa fees, excess baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
- Travel insurance, including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
- Items of a personal nature, such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.
Level 2: Moderate
This rail journey by private train features significant touring on foot, throughout which travelers are expected to keep up with other group members. Walking during touring days will be on a variety of surfaces, with many streets and sidewalks being uneven and elevators generally not available during touring excursions, leading to some stair climbing. Challenges on board the train include long onboard distances with heavy doors, as well as steep steps and gaps to navigate while embarking and disembarking. Only those willing to accept local standards of amenities and services should consider joining this program.
Travelers must be able to walk a mile per day keeping up with other group members. Streets and sidewalks can be uneven or unexpected surfaces, and handrails are not always present. Steps, which may be required due to lack of elevators, may be steep and/or uneven, and may also lack handrails. The distance on board the train between sleeping and dining carriages may be significant, and there are many heavy doors to navigate when moving throughout the train. Getting on and off the train involves navigating steep steps, low platforms, and possible gaps between the train and the platform. Navigating rail stations may also involve traveling up and over steep steps/footbridges to cross tracks, or steep steps and dark tunnels to cross under to/from the train station. Although porterage is provided where possible, you may have to carry your baggage for short distances.
General shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure may include problems with bureaucratic service, and availability and quality of public restrooms when not on board the train.