Irkutsk – Listvyanka – Circum-Baikal Line – Slyudyanka – ascent of Cherskiy’s Peak (2090 m/3 days) – Arshan – Irkutsk
8 days / 7 nights
Tour price per person:
The tour program:
Today is the first day of the tour, and you are welcome to start it with exploring lake Baikal in Listvyanka settlement. This is perhaps one of the oldest Russian settlements on the shore of the great lake. Lately it has turned into a tourist centre with the number of sights, cafes, hotels and tourists exceeding the number of residents.
We invite you for a sightseeing tour of Listvyanka, during which you will visit an observation platform next to the famous Shaman-Rock, hear a beautiful legend and visit the acting Russian Orthodox church of St.Nicholas-the-Miracle-Worker – the patron of all travelers and sailors. You may also have an excursion to Baikal Ecological museum with an exposition telling about the flora and fauna of Baikal, including aquariums with the lake’s live inhabitants. Tireless travelers may have a boat ride on Baikal, hiking or ATV trip along the picturesque shore (for extra charge). Watching the water from the coastal cliffs pay attention to its unmatched transparency and purity!
Besides, you may visit the spectacular open-air market, where the locals sell souvenirs alongside with home-made specialities of Baikal fish.
We recommend you to have dinner at “Proshliy Vek” (Past Century) café, where one can enjoy delicious specialities of original Siberian cuisine as well as a marvelous view of Baikal.
You will spend this day traveling by various means of transport: water, railroad and automobile, and all day long you will see Baikal next to you – so huge and so different every time.
First, you cross the Angara’s headwaters by ferry to Baikal port – a big train station and port. Here you set off on a trip by special tourist train on the Circum-Baikal line – the so-called “Golden Buckle of the Russian Steel Belt” – an amazing masterpiece of engineering and architecture of the early 20th century. During the trip the guide will tell you about the history of its construction and unique peculiarities. The number of tunnels and bridges on such a short way impresses especially when one realizes the level of technical development at the construction time: everything was built by hand, but so thoroughly and solidly – to serve for centuries.
In the evening you arrive at the southernmost point of Baikal, at the very bottom of the superb Khamar-Daban mountain range.
In the morning you will start trekking up the Slyudyanka river to the ridge’s top. The path twists and curves skipping from one bank to the other and back, crosses the river by log and pole bridges 15 times and goes past the marble quarry, Gorelaya (Burnt) and Kazachya (Cossack) glades, up and up. Crystal-clear river waters, small waterfalls, rocky cliffs and luxuriant vegetation – this is the real Khamar-Daban.
The ascent up the foothills is quite easy, and the surrounding landscapes make you snatch your camera every step of the way, slowing up the moving speed, which is already slow enough, in fact.
Today you will cover about 24 km.
In the evening you will make an overnight stopover at a campsite at the weather station. The comfort-fans may rent a cabin at the local tourist lodge and relax in the banya – Russian bathhouse (for extra charge).
Having left the heavy outfit down in the camp, you will have a radial trek to the peak of Mt. Chersky. From the weather station the serpentine road goes steeply uphill to the alpine meadows, which open up magnificent vistas of the Khamar-Daban and Eastern Sayan ridges. Having climbed beyond the forest edge, you reach a narrow rocky isthmus – Zhandarmsky (Gendarme’s) pass, followed by quite an easy trail along the rocky crest to the peak (2090 m). In fine weather, the peak gives a clear view of Baikal and the Serdtse (Heart) lake hidden at the mountain bottom and named so because of its shape.
Descent to the camp. If you still have some strength left, you are welcome to walk down to Serdtse lake, Posetitelskiy (Visitors’) spring and feast your eyes on the picturesque waterfalls cascade of the Podkomarnaya river.
The way down from the camp along the already familiar path is much easier and faster. After the mountain landscapes and air, even Slyudyanka seems fussy and smoky.
You will have a bus transfer through a wide valley between the two mountain ranges: Khamar-Daban to the left and Eastern Sayan to the right. This is the unique Tunka valley, where one can see young volcanoes, old Buryat yurts and grey-headed Tunka peaks with a background of dazzling blue sky.
Having covered 120 km you reach Arshan settlement situated at the bottom of towering mountains, and hence always seeming shadowed.
The best way of touring the settlement is walking on foot – thus one can discern some details and nuances of the local life, which are not visible from the bus’s window. It is worth visiting the healing mineral springs (we advise you to take a glass or a plastic bottle with you), the picturesque mountain river Kyngarga, walking in the park of the Arshan Resort with its natural monuments and choosing some interesting souvenirs at the amusing local market, where souvenirs are sold alongside with herbs curing nearly all possible illnesses.
Today you’ll continue discovering picturesque sights of Tunka valley. Besides that you will see almost all the valley today, you will also visit significant sites of 3 religions which local people combine in their own particular way. Eastern Orthodoxy will be represented by the Church of the Mantle (Pokrov) of Our Lady, Shamanism – by sacred site Tamhi-Baryash, where all the strangers ask the spirits for luck during their journey, and Buddhism will be represented by the main datsan of Tunka valley located next to Nilova Pustyn’ resort settlement which is also famous for its radon springs. During the numerous automobile passages your guide will entertain you telling interesting facts about history of Tunka valley, its diverse natural world, traditions and legends of the visited sites.
After dinner and a short transfer you will settle down in the tent camp on the bank of the Irkut river.
A day at leisure. You are welcome to choose entertainments to your taste. For those who want to relax after an active route, we suggest visiting and to take baths with water from springs are located in the villages Zhemchug and Nilova Pustyn’.
Who wishing to explore the sights and nature of the Tunka Valley can go hiking with a guide to the "Peak of Love" which is located at an altitude of 2124 m.
It is so sad to return to the everyday city routine… However, it is time to leave – the bus is waiting for you.
All the way to Irkutsk will be filled with recollections of the past tour days and funny cases, at times interrupted by exclamations of rapture about the view from the bus window. En route lunch in road café (for extra charge).
From this stopover to the very suburbs of Irkutsk you may enjoy the scenic Kultukskiy highway twisting and curving through the taiga.
Upon arrival to Irkutsk – ending of the tour at the train station.
Tour price includes:
- accommodation at hotels and lodges in Listvyanka (1 night), Slyudyanka (1 night), Arshan (3 night) on twin-sharing basis;
- meals as per program;
- all transfers and excursions as per program, except for those specified for extra charge;
- guides’ services*;
- ticket for the Circum-Baikal Line trip.
Surcharge for foreign-language guide: 16 000 RUR per group