VIP Summer itinerary “From the Urbanised South to the Wild North of Lake Baikal”


Difficulty

Comfort
6 days
Age 12+
June - October

Tour Overview

This super-luxury trip takes guests through a number of Lake Baikal’s most iconic sites, spectacular wilderness regions and exotic cultural and culinary experiences. Guests will cruise the lake from south to north on the Guberniya, Baikal’s most luxurious yacht, while stopping along the way for plenty of shore excursions to Buddhist datsans, indigenous shamans, exclusive fishing spots, alpine lakes and more. This is a great itinerary to see the truly breathtaking parts of Baikal that the average tourist will never come close to, while at the same time proving that genuine exclusive adventure does not have to come at the expense of comfort.

Highlights

  • Sailing Baikal from south to north on most luxurious yacht
  • Spectacular mountain, steppe, taiga, desert, lake and island scenery
  • Delicious local cuisine of Buryat specialities and fresh Baikal fish
  • Spiritual mysteries in Buryatia’s most sacred temple
  • Ceremonies conducted by the region’s most powerful shamans
  • Visiting picturesque indigenous villages of log cabins
  • Exploring Stone Age remains on the lake shore
  • Relaxing in Baikal’s most breathtaking natural hot springs
  • Fishing in alpine lakes for the endemic Frolikha char
  • Having the luxury Baikal Residence reserved solely for our group

Itinerary

1 Day: Listvynka market, Circum-Baikal Railway scenery and Buryat culinary delights

Guide meets group at airport or hotel in the morning to start tour in Lexus LX450d and Land Cruiser 200. After a short tour of the historical centre of Irkutsk, including its old wooden buildings and spectacular Orthodox churches, we head on to the smaller town of Listvynka on the shore of Lake Baikal where our yacht will be waiting for us. Before getting onboard we will have the opportunity to visit the local museum and a picturesque market selling fish from the lake and local handicrafts.

We then sail on to the most scenic stretch of the Circum-Baikal Railway, an extension of the Trans-Siberian on which construction began in 1899. The spectacular terrain also made the railway extremely difficult to build. We will see and learn the history of the many tunnels and other engineering feats that were required to complete the railway, and which have since compelled the local government to designate the area as an architectural and scenic reserve within the Baikal National Park.

We disembark at Kluevka village and transfer by Mercedes Sprinter to Ulan Ude, the capital of Buryatia, Siberia’s largest Buddhist republic. Check in to the 5* Murgen Bator hotel before settling down to a dinner of local Buryat and Mongolian specialities.

2 Day: Spiritual experience in Buryatia’s holiest Buddhist temple

Trip to Buryatian Buddhism’s holiest site: the Ivolginskiy Datsan. Here we will meet the monks and gain access to the most sacred parts of their datsan, those to which even local indigenous Buryat buddhists are forbidden. Here we will meet Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov who some claim is a meditating monk and others say is a religious relic. Although he died aged 75 in 1927, his body never decayed. The monks (and even on occasion Vladimir Putin!) Treat him as a living person, saying that he has merely been meditating in a nirvana-like state for the last 90 years.

After meeting Itigilov, we will head to Turka and once again board the yacht. We will have dinner and sleep on the yacht while it sails north to that most mysterious of islands, Olkhon.

3 Day: Exploring the mysteries of shamanic Olkhon Island

We awake already in Khuzir Bay of Olkhon Island, the third-largest lake island in the world which is home to several of its own lakes too. Olkhon’s scenery is simply spectacular, and may well be what many people have in mind when they think of Siberia: steep mountains tower up from its eastern shore while the rest of the island is covered in dense taiga forest interrupted by the occasional village, little more then log cabins huddling together amid the dramatic Siberian scenery. The local people are of the indigenous Buryat people who practice shamanism as well as Buddhism and are mostly hunters, fishermen and cattle herders.

After breakfast we disembark the yacht to have a shore excursion, driving up the island from its central section to Khoboy, its most northern cape. On the way we will pass breathtaking views, spectacularly rugged offshore islands, sacred shamanic sites, abandoned villages, a small sandy desert and the remains of an ancient stone settlement built thousands of years ago by the ancestors of the Buryats.

After a picnic lunch at Cape Khoboy we will meet with Olkhon’s most powerful shaman who will perform a ceremony to bring the members of our group health and success in they lives.

The white stone cliffs at Khoboy are too tall and sheer for us to descend so we will drive to Cape Nurganskiy to board the yacht again.

We sail north, keeping 5km from the lake shore so that we have a perfect view of the 2000m+ mountains that now line it. Dinner and overnight on the yacht.

4 Day: Fishing, hiking, hot springs, indigenous shaman and Stone Age remains

We awake at the mouth of the Kurkula River in the remote wilderness of Northern Baikal. Here we will use a very unusual method that is guaranteed to provide great catches of fish. The vessel will jam its nose into the shore but keep running its engine to create waves near the shore. This will attract large numbers of fish.

We then begin a 6km hike with incredible views of the lake, mountains and beach. We then arrive at the famous Kotelnikovskiy hot springs where we spend a while relaxing and swimming.

After lunch we sail from Kotelnikovskiy to the indigenous Buryat village of Baikalskoe, set in a particularly picturesque cove and surrounded by mountains.

At Baikalsoe we are picked up by Land Cruisers for a trip to the Ludar caves, once inhabited by the stone age people who painted the area’s bronze age red-ochre petroglyphs. We visit the nearby stone fortifications, possibly left by the Mongol hordes. At a sacred spot on a cliff overlooking the lake a shaman from the village will perform another blessing ceremony for us.

After the ceremony we head to the Baikal Residence, a luxury complex almost unparalleled in Russia and which will be booked up exclusively for our group. Dinner and overnight.

5 Day: Ultra-exclusive fishing at alpine lake for endemic Frolikha char

After breakfast at the Baikal Residence we transfer by speedboat to Froliha Bay, an area off-limits to tourists and which requires special permits to access. Here we meet our float plane which will fly us high up into the mountains to the alpine Lake Froliha, again closed to outsiders without permits. Here we have permission to fish for pike (up to 1.6 metres / 12kg), perch, lenok and the endemic Frolikha char that is only found here.

Lunch of freshly caught fish at Frolikha Lake. Return to the Baikal Residence in the evening.

6 Day: Hot springs, lunch and departure

Today we will spend the morning relaxing at the spectacularly beautiful Hakusy Hot Springs before transferring to Nizhneangarsk Airport for our chartered flight back to Irkutsk.

Photos

Price

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Price includes:

  • Rental of Gubernia yacht for 6 days
  • Baikal Residence hired out solely for our group for 3 days and 2 nights
  • Chartered AN24 flight from Nizhneangarsk to Irkutsk (6 business class and 32 economy class seats)
  • Access permits at Frolikha
  • Fishing permits at Frolikha
  • All food and cook
  • 5* Mergen Bator Hotel
  • Transfer Irkutsk – Listvynka
  • Transfer Kluevka – Ulan Ude – Datsan – Ulan Ude – Turka
  • English-speaking guide throughout the trip
  • UAZ rental on Olkhon
  • Fees to Buddhist monks and Buryat shamans
  • Speed boat transfer to Hakusy and Kotelnikovskiy
  • Use of hot springs at Hakusy and Kotelnikovskiy
  • Invitation for Russian tourist visa

Price does not include:

  • Flights from Moscow to Irkutsk (can be added upon request)
  • Services in Moscow or Irkutsk (can be added upon request)
  • Personal expenses
  • Personal travel insurance

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