The Trans-Siberian Railway is hailed as one of the great train journeys of the world and Tina Gerets understands why it attracts thousands of enthusiasts every year…
“For some people the thought of spending close to 100 hours in a confined space is daunting. But having done the ‘Trans Sib’ (as it is affectionately known) 7 times already, I can assure you this is not a reason to stay at home. In fact, the 3-night journey between Ulan Ude and Kungur seems to fly by, and that’s Intrepid’s longest stretch on the train. I would plan to update my journal or catch up on sleep and reading, but that never happened because I simply didn’t have time!
How did 11 mates end up making tracks across Africa with Intrepid? They must have friends in high places! Well, not exactly. But as friends of Intrepid on Facebook they entered our African Adventure comp in January – and won!
So it came to pass that these adventurous amigos recently embarked on our Road to Zanzibar trip, and kept us all entertained (and more than a little jealous) with tales from the trail. Here are their Top Five highlights from the trip…
After a fantastic Okavango Experience trip with his wife Debbie, John Watkins was inspired to write this great poem about the highs, lows and wonders of Africa…
“My arrival in Johannesburg was a good twelve hours late
And there when greeted by my wife, she was in quite a state.
Debbie said that this was different than just being down the pub,
‘I thought that you were lost somewhere, in the Tanzanian scrub.’
It all started back at Kili, with a plane that wouldn’t start.
So instead of a reunion, we were still left well apart.
For I was stranded up in Kenya, half a content away.
These things often happen here, explanation, T.I.A.
Intrepid’s Tara Kennaway has spent a fair portion of her life on trains, both in her role as a tour leader in Russia (multiple Trans Siberian laps!) and in her own travels. So she’s decidedly qualified to judge the T27 from Beijing to Lhasa, and what a train journey to Tibet it turns out to be…
“I can say that this is definitely the nicest, cleanest and most modern train I’ve travelled on by far! Clearly built and planned with the tourist traveller in mind, the soft sleeper cabins are spacious and beds actually soft. Toilets, one western, one squatter, are regularly restocked with toilet paper (imagine!) and whether it is that the carriage is not so full or the passengers observe some kind of reverence for the journey they are taking, the sink area seems to be remarkably spittle free.
It’s an absolutely epic journey and one of the world’s greatest train trips, but during the times when the Trans-Siberian scenery becomes a bit monotonous or when it’s actually dark outside, Intrepid group leader Denis Sobnakov has some tips to pass the time…
“As you may know, the longest railway in the world is Trans-Siberian railway in Russia. It’s about 10,000 kilometers (6215 miles) and more than 7 days straight on a train. The famous train attracts travellers from around the globe and on our Intrepid trips we take part of the journey, which is 4 days of virtually being confined to our carriages. So the question arises – what to do when you get bored?
Some will say they dread overnight trains throughout Asia, but have you considered that they are environmentally, economically and socially beneficial? Intrepid’s Nicki Gibson explains why travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai can be so much fun…
“Trains are cheaper than flying and you don’t lose a valuable day traveling – as you pass your journey through the night, comfortably sleeping after socialising in the disco carriage. Yes, there is a disco carriage – well of sorts. It’s a buffet carriage and there is a party ready to happen if you want to add the ingredients!
Having boarded one of the world’s longest train journeys so many times, there isn’t much that Intrepid’s Denis Sobnakov doesn’t know about the fantastic Trans-Siberian Railway. But this is one adventure that is as much about the people you meet as it is about the distance travelled…
“Every train journey between Russia, Mongolia and China has to take Trans-Siberian tracks. Considering that it is about 10,000 km and we travel almost a half of it, it’s no wonder there are a lot interesting happenings along the way.
Have you ever been caught in such an amazing travel moment that you had to pinch yourself to make sure you were awake? Some nights Intrepid traveller Cynthia Kampschaefer still dreams of her Botswana adventure…
“I had one of the most treasured experiences of my life on an overland trip in Africa. At a camp in Botswana, a 96 year old gentleman, the ‘bone man’ of the nearby village, threw out his carved bones onto the ground to study them and do a reading for us. He told us where to find zebras, to watch out for the lions, and that we would have good hunting nearby (with cameras, mind you). Some of the shy, curious, friendly children who came with him hugged us goodbye. He left us with a little sorghum beer sitting at a warm fire marveling at the beauty of an astounding African sunset.
One of the great things about overland adventures is leaving big cities behind to get off the beaten track. On her Rio to Buenos Aires Overland trip, Intrepid’s Erin Farmer did just that and the result was a dream-come-true wildlife experience…
“After 5 hours on a bumpy road through the Brazilian forest, we finally made it to the Estancia. Truly in the middle of nowhere and called 24th de May (ingeniously named after the date the ranch was started), this ranch was to be our home for the next two nights. The ranch is a fully working operation with gauchos, cows and caiman crocodiles. With the luxury of our own truck transport we could reach this remote spot and over the next two days would have an amazing time piranha fishing, jungle walking, cow milking, horse trekking, cow herding and snake hunting.