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Experiencing The Trans-Mongolian Railway

| Words by Ellena Johnstone |

Snaking through this rugged landscape is the Trans-Mongolian railway, a ride on which is considered one of the greatest true adventures on earth.

Wild, vast and breathtakingly beautiful, Mongolia is a land steeped in mystery. Snaking through this rugged landscape is the Trans-Mongolian railway, a ride on which is considered one of the greatest true adventures on earth.

From the buzz of Beijing in neighbouring China, through the heart of the Mongolian steppe and onwards to Russia, this journey of a lifetime is one few travellers get to experience. So here in the UK office we could not wait to tune into Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventure, a new three-part documentary series celebrating this most iconic of railway journeys.

Here we share with you some of the sights you might encounter on this epic rail journey through the heart of Mongolia.  

Tickets, please!

Insider Journeys passengers board the famous Trans-Mongolian railway, which follows an ancient trading route between China to Russia, through the heart of Mongolia

Construction of the Trans-Mongolian line began in 1947, along an ancient tea-caravan route from China to Russia.  Today, this train acts as a vital trade route between Mongolia and its two super-power neighbors. Wake early to watch the sunrise over the Mongolian steppe, or simply take in the incredible vastness of the Gobi desert as the train makes its way to Mongolia’s buzzing capital Ulaan Baatar. Here, you will be able to visit Mongolia’s finest museums and art galleries, as well as excellent drinking and dining.

Wild Horses

The Mongolian wild horse is a symbol of national heritage. Known as ‘takhi’, they have been rescued from the brink of extinction by careful conservation.

The Mongolian wild horse or takhi is considered the only truly wild horse in the world. Takhi means "spirit" or "spiritual" in Mongolian and the species is a symbol of national heritage. Declared extinct in the 1960s, careful conservation has seen numbers return. In fact, all of the takhi in the wild today are descended from just 12 individuals raised in captivity! On our Mongolia tours, travellers have the chance to discover a local project for the protection and reintroduction of these beautiful creatures into the wild.

Traditional Dwellings

The ‘ger’ is the traditional dwelling of Mongolia, and for centuries has provided shelter for nomadic herdsmen and their families. Today such herdsmen make up one third of the Mongol population.

The traditional dwelling of Mongolia is the ‘ger’, from the Mongolian word meaning “home”.  In Mongolia over a third of the population are still nomadic herdsmen, and for centuries they have relied upon these round tents, covered in animal skins, to provide shelter and warmth.  The Mongolian steppe is dotted with these structures, and on our Trans-Mongolia Adventure travellers have the rare opportunity to stay in one of these traditional structures.

Naadam Festival

The Naadam Festival in July is a country-wide celebration, and includes traditional Mongolian wrestling, horse-racing and archery

The world-famous Naadam Festival takes place every summer, incorporating horse racing, Mongolian wresting and archery. While traditionally a male-dominated celebration, nowadays women and even children are allowed to compete!  Our insider tip is to experience Naadam away from the bustle of Ulaan Baatar; we take our travellers to the laid-back town of Tsetserleg, offering the chance to get closer to the action and connect with local people.

Our popular 16 day Trans-Mongolian Adventure small group journeyincludes a two-night journey on the Trans-Mongolian Railway, and incorporates the world-famous Naadam Festival.

All three episodes of Joanna Lumley’s Trans-Siberian Adventureare available to watch on ITV here.