PERSIAN ODYSSEY NORTHBOUND (TEHRAN TO MOSCOW)
From the ancient land of Persia and along the Silk Road this unique journey takes in destinations that are rarely experienced by the Western visitor on a completely enthralling journey between Tehran and Moscow. Alternatively you may leave the journey in Tashkent – ask about your options.
TEHRAN – PERSEPOLIS – SHIRAZ – ISFAHAN – YAZD – RAYEN – MAHAN – MASHHAD – MERV – ASHGABAT – DARVAZA GAS CRATER – KHIVA – BUKHARA – SAMARKAND – TASHKENT – BAIKONUR – MOSCOW
|Day 1: Tehran
Upon arrival into Tehran you will be met and transferred to the Espinas International Hotel (or similar) for a two-night stay. On the first evening we will enjoy a welcome reception dinner, whilst you meet your fellow travellers on this highly anticipated journey.
Our northbound departure in October 2018 will contain an extra two nights in Tehran to enable a visit to the Crown Jewels.
|Day 2: Tehran
Our first port of call on our city tour of Tehran is the Crown Jewels Museum in the Central Bank of Iran Building, with its vast array of crown jewels used by the Qajar and Pahlavid royalty and the legendary Peacock Throne.
Also we visit the Golestan Palace with its renovated Versailles-inspired mirror-encrusted Marble Throne Hall used for the coronation of the last Shah. Most of the remaining brick and tile buildings date back to the 19th century Qajar dynasty.
|Day 3: Tehran
Late afternoon on Day 3 we transfer to the main railway station in the city and board the Golden Eagle. Settle in to your cabin and later enjoy dinner as the train heads overnight to Sha’adat Shara for our first stop at Persepolis.
|Day 4: Persepolis & Shiraz
Following breakfast on board we stop at Sha’adat Shara, for the home of Persepolis, a World Heritage Site. Perhaps Iran’s most important archaeological site, this ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire dates back to the 6th century. Even now, the ruins are extremely impressive. We also view the Necropolis (Naghshe Rustam). After lunch we continue by bus to Shiraz.
Shiraz has many strings to its bow: poetry, literature, wine, flowers and amazing gardens and fruit trees. A visit to the Quran Gate, Hafez Tomb and the Vakil Citadel are the highlights of our afternoon tour.
|Day 5: Isfahan
This enchanting city, which served as Persia’s capital from 1598 to 1722, is 2,500 years old and one of the oldest in Iran. As a crossroad of international trade and diplomacy, Isfahan has a rich mix of languages, religions and customs.
The city is famous for its silver filigree and metal work, array of great historical monuments, and its Life-Giving River, the Zayandeh-Rood, which has given the city its beauty. Isfahan is packed with some of Iran’s best sights and today we spend a whole day in the city, visiting the Chehel Sotoon Palace and the Vank Church in the Armenian Quarter.
Following a traditional Iranian lunch we move on to Naghshe Jahan Square, a World Heritage Site and the second largest man-made square in the world, where the Ali Qapou Palace and Shah and Sheikh Lutfullah Mosques can be found. Here, the time is yours to enjoy the huge square and pick up a bargain at the handicraft Bazaar of Qaisarieh.
|Day 6: Yazd
Yazd is thought to be one of the oldest cities in the world and a centre of Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic faith founded in Iran 3,500 years ago. Our tour takes in the Zoroastrian Fire Temple, Amir Chakhmagh Square and the 14th century Friday Mosque, home to one of Persia’s finest and exquisite mosaics.
|Day 7: Rayen & Mahan
After breakfast we alight in Rayen. The 20,000 square metre Rayen Castle is situated beneath the snow-capped Mount Hezar in the Province of Kerman. A huge medieval mud brick citadel, it was considered second only to Bam before the 2003 earthquake. Rayen displays all the architectural elements of a deserted citadel (it was inhabited until 150 years ago) and is extremely well preserved. It is considered one of the most interesting sites in Iran.
We continue by road to Mahan where we visit the 19th century Royal building, Prince’s Garden and tomb. We later visit the sanctuary and tomb of the famous, Soufi, Shah Nematollah Vali, dating back to the Mongol Era.
|Day 8: Mashhad
An early morning arrival provides us with the whole day to explore the city of Mashhad, which is home to the Imam Reza Holy Shrine, the largest mosque in the world in terms of its dimension, followed by a tour of the Nader Shah Museum. Following lunch in the city, we will visit the Tomb of Ferdowsi, the father of Persian Literature who lived over 1,000 years ago.
We stay overnight in Masshad as the Golden Eagle travels onto Sarakhs as we make important changes to the wheel sets of the train.
|Day 9: Sarakhs
We arrive at the border town of Sarakhs by coach and we make the short visit to the excavation site of the old Sarakhs Citadel and Mausoleum of Abul Fazl. We later re-join the Golden Eagle and continue our journey into Turkmenistan.
|Day 10: Ashgabat & Darvaza Gas Crater
Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan is known as the ‘Las Vegas of the Kara Kum’. Situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range, Ashgabat is a relatively modern city built upon the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala and the Soviet city built after the devastating earthquake of 1948.
The city’s extravagant fountains, golden domes and towering modern buildings appear strangely incongruous in this desert setting. Highlights on our visit include a visit to the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque.
The Golden Eagle makes a brief scheduled stop at Ichoguz, where we have the option to leave the train and make a short journey to Darvaza’s famous burning gas crater, a spectacular sight best seen at night. Located in the middle of the Kara Kum desert where the area is rich in natural gas, the 70 metre-wide crater is known by the locals as the ‘Door to Hell’ and has been burning for over 40 years. A unique experience that is not to be missed.
|Day 11: Khiva
From Urgench we travel to the ancient city of Khiva, founded 2,500 years ago. As one of the Silk Road’s most important trading posts and now a World Heritage Site, it lies at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia.
A truly magnificent sight to behold, it rises out of the desert to reveal a wealth of impressive architecture. Stepping back in time, we discover its impressive mosques, madrassas, bazaars and minarets within Khiva’s ancient walls.
|Day 12: Bukhara
Bukhara is quite simply outstanding. Like Khiva, UNESCO sponsored the renovation of much of the city for its 2,500th anniversary in 1999. The highlight of this wonderful tour is a visit to The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara – the despotic and ruthless leaders who ruled until Soviet times.
We then travel out of the city to experience the Emir’s enchantingly named, Palace of the Moon and Stars. This evening, weather and time permitting, we will enjoy a barbecue on the station platform before our train departs.
|Day 13: Samarkand
Just the mention of Samarkand instantly conjures up evocative images of the Silk Road, more so than any other town. Founded in the 6th century BC, Samarkand’s stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia and is particularly noted for its architectural remains from the 14th to the 17th century, when it flourished as the fabled capital of the Mongol empire of Timur and his successors.
Today we will visit some of its most significant sites including Registan Square, the refined elegance of the beautifully proportioned Bibi Khanum Mosque and the Ulag Beg observatory, one of the earliest Islamic astronomical observatories built in 1428. Before dinner we will return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.
|Day 14: Tashkent
Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and we spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city which was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966. Our tour of the city includes the Old Town, where traditional homes and religious buildings line the narrow streets and here in a small library we’ll be privileged to see one of Islam’s most sacred relics – the world’s oldest Koran. This is followed by a visit to the Railway Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.
|Day 15: Baikonur
Baikonur, formerly known as Leninsk, is situated on the right bank of the Syr Darya River and was constructed to service the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which itself was originally constructed by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s as the base of operations for its space programme. This is a place filled with so much history from the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 and the launch of the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space in 1961 to the current day missions to re-supply the International Space Station. On our visit to Baikonur we will visit the launch station of Yuri Gagarin’s mission into space.
|Day 16: On Board
Today, we enjoy a relaxing day on board as we travel across the vast open expanses of Kazakhstan and southern Russia. As well as experiencing the unique landscape, you can take the opportunity to chat to fellow passengers and maybe take part in a Russian language lesson.
|Day 17: Moscow
Our afternoon touring programme of Moscow principally takes us 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. We 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.
|Day 18: Moscow
After breakfast in your hotel, you will be transferred to Moscow Airport for your onward flight.
Why not extend your stay in Moscow with additional nights to explore more of the city at your leisure or have time to take in a performance at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theatre? Tickets need to be pre-booked and are subject to schedule and availability.
As far as possible our tours are all inclusive with no hidden extras. What follows are those elements which are included in the tour price. The only extra items you will need to budget for include personal expenses such as international and internal flights, visa costs, travel insurance, drinks from the Bar Lounge Car and laundry.
EXPERIENCED TOUR MANAGERS
Our experienced tour managers and their assistants are selected for their travel knowledge and organisational abilities allowing you to relax and enjoy your voyage of a lifetime. We receive many exceptional passenger comments about our Tour Managers and their aim is to ensure you enjoy every minute of your holiday.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE TRANSFERS
Arrival and departure transfers are included.
HOTEL AND ONBOARD ACCOMMODATION
Although you will spend much of your time sightseeing or relaxing in the train’s public areas, you will find you hotel room or cabin a welcome retreat at the end of a rewarding day. Hotel and onboard accommodation as described in your individual tour itinerary are included in the tour price. All hotels are of 5 star standard or, in certain locations, the best available. Room upgrades are available on request and at extra cost.
WELCOME AND FAREWELL DINNERS
Each tour begins with a Welcome Dinner, an ideal opportunity to get to know your fellow passengers; for the Tour Manager to brief you on the trip; and introduce you to the Golden Eagle Luxury Trains team and the Tour Doctor. The Farewell Dinner is the perfect end to your adventure by private train where you can relive the journey and look ahead to future tours.
ROUTE GUIDE, ITINERARY AND INFORMATION PACK
When you board the train there will be a brochure in your cabin detailing more about your journey and the places en-route. Our Tour Manager will organise a programme of briefings on the cities or places we visit and, each evening, will issue a programme for the next day’s touring schedule.
BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER DAILY
All departures feature one or two uniquely designed restaurant cars where you can enjoy the excellent waiter-served food and wine. Several times during the tour we will also sample authentic local cuisine off the train.
DRINKS WITH MEALS
All meals with wines at lunch and dinner except in Iran where soft drinks and non-alcoholic beer will be available. Drinks from the Bar Car are also included with the exception of drinks from the Premium Wine List.
ON BOARD SERVICE
Throughout your tour you can expect service which is attentive, friendly and unintrusive. The high ratio of staff to passengers means there is always someone available should you need assistance.
GUIDED OFF-TRAIN EXCURSIONS
All our tours include a wide-ranging sightseeing schedule to make the most of the time you have off the train and bring you closer to the culture, people and history of your destinations.
FREEDOM OF CHOICE TOURING
Customise your journey and enjoy the opportunity to select from an array of Freedom of Choice Touring options that best suits your interests. Your off-train excursions will still take in all the major attractions of the places we are visiting but, in featured locations, you will be presented when you are onboard the train with a variety of activities from which to choose, and enjoy a tailor-made experience. Look at the individual itineraries where we are operating Freedom of Choice Touring. Freedom of Choice Touring options may be subject to variations dependent on finalised train timings and local charges. Touring options available will typically be advised in the evening prior to the day’s tour.
On all the off–train excursions, to enhance your enjoyment and comprehension of the places you visit, you will be provided with a lightweight personal headset on which to listen to your tour guide as you take in the sights. So you do not need to worry about missing any of the interesting details on your excursions.
ON BOARD DOCTOR AND MEDICAL FACILITIES
To give you peace of mind our tours are accompanied by a doctor who travels with us for the entire journey; so you can rest assured that medical assistance is always available. On call 24 hours a day, the doctor is on hand to give primary care as required. Normally, the doctor will be English speaking and be registered with the General Medical Council in the UK.
CABIN ATTENDANT SERVICE
Your car attendants provide housekeeping and bedding turndown services. Complimentary tea, coffee and bottled drinking water are available in your cabin at selected times.
Porterage is included between the hotels and stations.
All gratuities are included in the tour price.
DATES & RATES TBA
All prices are per person and in US dollars. We charge in Australian dollars based on the prevailing rate of exchange at time of payment. Prices do not include international flights. For a complete list of tour inclusions see the inclusions tab above.
Take the trip of a lifetime
Find out more about the Golden Eagle Luxury Train.