Golden Eagle Caspian Odyssey
A breathtaking rail journey across six countries located close to the shores of the Caspian Sea - Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Explore the countries on both the eastern and western shores of the Caspian Sea - Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. With their location at the crossroads of trade, religion, language and the arts, these countries are home to fascinating modern cultures as well as some of the world's most ancient and timeless architecture.
Highlights Include: • Itchan Kala, Khiva • Historic Centre of Shahrisabz • Samarkand - Crossroad of Cultures • The walled city of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower • Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley, near Yerevan • State Historical & Cultural Park 'Ancient Merv' • Historical Monuments of Mtskheta
The Train: This luxurious train traverses Russia and Central Asia with ensuite cabins, fine dining and elegant interiors. The first-class restaurant cars and bar lounge host a variety of onboard entertainment throughout each journey, including Russian language classes and lectures on local history and culture from guest speakers. Buffet breakfast is served onboard each morning with lunch and dinner treating guests to culinary experiences inspired by the surrounding countries. Itineraries include sightseeing excursions that explore a rich tapestry of history and culture, all in refined comfort.
Silver Class Cabins: Compact with a double lower bed and single upper bed. Cabins come with an LCD TV, DVD player, wardrobe, air-conditioning, a large window and ensuite facilities. Complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water is available at all times.
Gold Class Cabins: Well proportioned with underfloor heating, air-conditioning, LCD TV, DVD player, wardrobe, a large window and an ensuite bathroom featuring a power shower. Cabins come with a double lower bed and single upper bed along with complimentary tea, coffee and drinks from the standard bar list.
Imperial Suite Cabins: A luxurious amount of space and include a large double bed, lounge area, dressing table, fully stocked minibar, library, two large windows and an ensuite bathroom with a power shower. First-class service beings with a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne being served on arrival to toast the start of your adventure. Guests also receive the option of a private guide and car during most excursions, as well as laundry service and room upgrades at the various hotels featured in itineraries. Standard and premium drinks are included in the bar car.
Day 1: Yerevan Upon arrival at Yerevan International Airport you will be met and transferred to the five-star Alexander Hotel, where we stay for one night. Boasting a prestigious central location the Alexander, a Luxury Collection Hotel, is located in the heart of Yerevan's historic quarter and allows guests a relaxing stay in luxurious surroundings. Even the hotel's facade with a history dating back to the 18th century presents a unique glimpse into the country's fascinating past. Tonight we enjoy a Welcome Dinner at our hotel whilst you meet your fellow travellers and look forward to the journey ahead.
Day 2: Yerevan The day's touring will take you 37km out of Yerevan to the ancient Geghard Monastery. The beautiful monastery contains a number of churches and tombs, many of them cut into the rock. The complex of medieval architecture is set into a landscape of great natural beauty, surrounded by towering cliffs at the head of the Azat Valley. We'll also visit the 1st Century pagan temple of Garni, built to worship the Sun God Mitra. Explore the remains of an ancient fortress, palace and baths there. Back in Yerevan city visit the Cascade giant stairway and inside it the Casfejian Museum of Modern Art. In the evening board the Golden Eagle private train and start your rail adventure to Almaty.
Day 3: Lake Sevan & Dilijan The train takes a scenic route today around the stunning Lake Sevan and make a short stop to walk to the beach for a photo opportunity. Along with Lake Van and Lake Urmia, Sevan was considered one of the three great lakes of the historical Armenian Kingdom, collectively referred to as the Seas of Armenia; it is the only one within the boundaries of today's Republic of Armenia. Continue to Dilijan to visit the nearby Monastery of Haghpat, built between the 10th and 14th centuries. Its beautiful location in dense wood in the gorges of two small mountain rivers make an atmospheric backdrop for St. Astvatsatsin Church, its most important building.
Day 4: Tblisi Heading into Georgia, visit Tbilisi. Hemmed in by the Surami Range, the city extends for 27km along the banks of the River Kura. Despite the wars and fires which caused innumerable changes in the topography of Tbilisi, the old part of the city still retains much of its original layout, a spider's web of narrow winding streets and alleyways. Historical sites visited include the 13th century Metekhi church, a cross cupola church which forms part of the Royal Residential complex, and the 5th century Sioni Cathedral, the main church of Tbilisi. You will also visit the recently built Holy Trinity Cathedral, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and take a walking tour of the old town and Rustaveli Avenue.
Day 5: Telvai Today explore the beautiful Kakheti region, which borders the Great Caucasus Mountain range. This region is known as a birthplace of Georgian viticulture and wine-making. Tour the Tsinandali country estate of the Alexandre Chavchavadze family with a marvellous garden, house-museum, park and winery dating back to the 19th century, located near Telavi, a couple of hours' drive from Tbilisi.
Day 6: Gori, Uplistsihke Cave City & Mtsheta Gori is one of the oldest cities in Georgia, founded in the 7th century AD as Tontio. Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader, was born here in 1879 and he spent his childhood years in the city and later studied at its theological seminary. The small house where Stalin was born is preserved under a canopy outside the huge columned palace-like building that houses the Stalin Museum. To the side of the museum is Stalin's private railway carriage. The museum is filled with interesting photographs of the man responsible for more deaths and suffering than any other human being. From the town we will go directly to Uplistsikhe where we will have a private performance of traditional Georgian polyphonic singing.
Day 7: Baku Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, lies on the western shore of the Caspian Sea and the southern side of the Apsheron Peninsula, around the wide, curving sweep of the Bay of Baku. The bay, sheltered by the islands of the Baku Archipelago, provides the best harbour of the Caspian Sea, while the Apsheron Peninsula gives protection from violent northerly winds. Baku derives its international importance from its huge oil industry. The walled old town is highly picturesque, with its maze of narrow alleys and ancient buildings. Around the walls of the fortress, the regular streets and imposing buildings of modern Baku rise up the slopes of the amphitheatre of hills surrounding the bay. Stay at the five-star Four Seasons Baku (or similar) for two nights, while our train is loaded on the ferry to cross the Caspian Sea.
Note: The train is loaded onto a cargo ferry for a 12-14 hour crossing of the Caspian Sea from Baku to the town of Turkmenbashi. Formerly known as Krasnovodsk, it is the western terminus of oil and natural gas pipelines and of the Trans-Caspian Railway, which links the Caspian region with central Asia. The cargo ferry has limited passenger facilities with basic cabins and catering, and the adventurous amongst the group can choose to travel on the ferry with our train. Upon arrival at the port at Turkmenbashi the train will be offloaded and travel overnight to Ashgabat (this option needs to be requested at the time of booking the tour).
Day 8: Baku This morning there is a Freedom of Choice tour to Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape. Located 40 miles (64 km) from Baku on the west bank of the Caspian Sea, Gobustan is an outstanding archaeological site of more than 6,000 pre-historic rock engravings. The area also features the remains of inhabited caves, settlements and burials. This is followed by lunch overlooking the Caspian Sea. Returning to the city in the afternoon, you can choose to enjoy free time in the city or visit a local theatre. Dinner will be held in a traditional local restaurant this evening.
Day 9: Ashgabat Following breakfast take a morning flight to 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 trip to the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque. Stay overnight in the luxury five-star Yyldyz Hotel (or similar).
Day 10: Darvaza The Golden Eagle makes a brief scheduled stop at Ichoguz, where you 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 The train travels towards Urgench, from where you will transfer 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, discover its impressive mosques, 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 most enjoyable aspect of this city is to just immerse oneself in the atmosphere of this unique and ancient city and re-live some of its fascinating history at the crossroads of Asia. The main 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. Then travel out of the city to experience the Emir's enchantingly named, 'Palace of the Moon and Stars'.
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 you 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 return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.
Day 14: Tashkent Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and you will spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city which was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966. The 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. This evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner onboard the Golden Eagle as you head overnight to your final destination of Almaty.
Day 15: Almaty This morning arrive into Almaty, your final destination and bid farewell to the Golden Eagle. Today you will take a tour of Almaty including a visit to Panfilov Park, located in the heart of the city, and home to the Zenkov Cathedral, a 19th century Russian Orthodox Church made entirely of wood. Overnight stay for one night at the InterContinental Almaty hotel, or similar.
Day 16: Almaty Following breakfast you will be transferred to Almaty Airport for your onward flight. Why not extend your stay in Almaty with additional nights to explore more of the city and surrounding region at your leisure?
• Luxury accommodation on board and in hotels • Arrival and departure transfers • Hotel and onboard accommodation • Internal flight Baku - Ashgabat • Welcome and Farewell dinners • Route guide, itinerary and information pack • Breakfast, Lunch and dinner daily • Drinks with meals and from the bar lounge car* • Onboard service including turndown, housekeeping • Complimentary tea, coffee, and drinking water in your cabin. • Guided off-train excursions • Freedom of choice touring - select from an arrange of touring options that suit your interests • Personal headsets • Onboard doctor and medical facilities • 24 hour service attendant • Portage • All gratuities
*A generous drinks allowance is included with lunch and dinner. For passengers travelling in Gold Class on board the Golden Eagle, drinks from the Standard Drinks List in the Bar Lounge Car are also included. For Imperial Suite guests, drinks from both the Standard and Premium Bar Lists (excluding premium wines) in the Bar Lounge Car are included.
Pricing (per person) $USD
22 Sep 2022