Best time to take the Trans Siberian Express


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There’s plenty to be said for riding the rails in the depths of winter, however – all four seasons have plenty to offer in regards of the best time to take the Trans Siberian Express with spring, summer and autumn offering awesome opportunities to get out and explore. Whether it’s wrestling, racing or archery in Mongolia over the course of the summer or experiencing the east Siberian taiga explode into life during the autumn; there’s no bad time to take the Trans Siberian, just bad clothing.



Warm weather and extensive daylight make the Trans Siberian in June, July and August a real pleasure for stopping off and enjoying fish grills at the beach, although sleeping conditions on the train during July and August can be somewhat uncomfortable despite air-conditioning and opening tiny windows.

December, January and February bring freezing temperatures to create the most vivid depictions of life in deepest, darkest nowhere with the remotest of ramshackle sheds inviting the merest mention of life from the thinnest ribbon of smoke ascending from a crooked conical-covered chimney. Despite of the cold, ice walking on frozen Lake Baikal followed by a traditional Buryat family meal and an equally warming banya (sauna) can be pretty hard to turn down.

September and October are another best time to take the Trans Siberian Express as the crowds and heat of summer are replaced by autumnal strolls in Siberian forests and unimpeded sightseeing in Yekaterinburg or Irkutsk before November brings the darker, snow-covered depths of winter.

From mid-February onwards scenes of thaw dictate what you'll find off the Trans Siberian Express with melting ice on Lake Baikal tending to occur earlier and earlier each and every year. March, April and May find temperatures rising, with the risk of wild fires sometimes turning the air black whilst lush green grass and edelweiss, delphiniums and rhododendrons cover Mongolian steppe below.



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Maslenitsa is a pagan celebration that takes place the week before the Great Lent (February or March) where Russians and Eastern Slavs say farewell to winter. Each of the seven days involves a different tradition including invites for future daughter-in-laws, snowball fights and bliny (thin pancakes or crepes) being cooked and offered to the poor. Keep an eye out for straw-filled effigies of Lady Maslenitsa dressed in colourful old women’s clothes in Kazan, Irkutsk and Siberian villages. These dolls are stuck on a pole and paraded round for the entire week (including the occasional sledging experience) before being burned on the Sunday – ‘Forgiveness Day’ – whereupon youngsters walk over the ashes before they’re scattered on the fields in hope of a good harvest.
Photo credits: [Temp chart: Kitty Terwolbeck] [Help desk: Boccaccio1] [Maslenitsa festival: л06а4eв BлaДИМИ]
Written by Chris Owen
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