Irkutsk – Listvyanka – Irkutsk – Olkhon – Irkutsk – Arshan - Irkutsk
9 day/8 nights
Tour price per person:
- The tour is led by Russian-speaking guides; bilingual guides or interpreters are provided for extra charge upon request
- Check-in/out time at hotels is 12:00, earlier check-in and later check-out are charged for according to the hotel’s accommodation rates.
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.
On the way to Listvyanka it is worthwhile visiting Taltsy open-air ethnographic museum (for extra charge). Here one can feel the unique charm of the authentic wooden architecture and everyday life of the Pribaikalye peoples, and take part in some traditional winter entertainments: get a thrill sliding down a real Russian ice-hill, have a ride on a sled or Troyka or try to walk on stilts.
In Listvyanka we invite you for a sightseeing tour, 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 (for extra charge) with an exposition telling about the flora and fauna of Baikal, including aquariums with the lake’s live inhabitants.
Besides, you may visit the spectacular open-air market, where the locals sell souvenirs alongside with home-made specialities of Baikal fish.
After breakfast you will set off on a trip to Baikal. Your way to the lake will head through vast steppes, ancient Buryat villages, over the magnificent Pribaikalskiy range’s spurs covered with the Siberian taiga forest which then change to Mongolian-type landscapes of the Tazheranskaya steppe.
Boarding the ferry to cross the famous Olkhon Gate Straits separating Olkhon from the mainland. It will take you about 40 min. to get to the island; on the way you will see both the Maloye (Lesser) and the Bolshoye (Larger) Seas – two parts of Baikal split by Olkhon.
Arrival at Olkhon island – the biggest one out of 26 Baikal’s isles; the lake’s geographic, historical and sacral centre, which resembles it even by shape.
A 40-km transfer on the island – and you reach its capital – Khuzhir settlement. After putting up at the tourist lodge we invite you to start exploring the vast spaces of Olkhon with a walking sightseeing tour of the outskirts: Khuzhir settlement, sacred Burkhan cape (Shaman-Mount) – 1 of the 9 Asian shrines, equally worshipped by Shamanists, Buddhists and Lamaists. Optionally – for extra charge – excursion to the local lore museum with an interesting collection of objects representing the everyday life and culture of the islanders.After the long impression-filled day, you will have a sound sleep enhanced by the health-giving atmosphere of a wooden house.
Although Olkhon is just an island, the distances here are quite long, making most of the local excursions last practically the whole day. You will spend this day exploring the legendary Khoboy cape – the island’s northernmost point, which is located at the widest place of Baikal.
On the way you will see all the diversity of Baikal’s natural landscapes concentrated on the island: steppes, bays jutting deep into the shore, sandy dunes, mixed deciduous forests interspersed with relict fir woods and magnificent marble rocks spotted with red lichens.
The cape gives a splendid panoramic view of Baikal’s northern part, and if the weather is fine, one can make out the outlines of the Ushkanyi Isles and Barguzin Peninsula.It is really worth having a walk here, during which the guide will tell you the legends, and describe traditions and customs connected with this place.
Today we offer you to explore Irkutsk – ancient Siberian city.During the city sightseeing tour you will see the historical centre, the place, where over 300 years ago Irkutsk was founded, the Angara river’s embankment, the most prominent monuments of architecture and, of course, Znamensky (Holy Sign) Russian Orthodox convent with one of the most beautiful Siberian cathedrals noted for its iconostasis and graves on the territory (graves of the Decembrists, Gregory Shelikhov and others). After the sightseeing you will have some time for shopping at the central market and a souvenir store.
Today you may enjoy the stunning landscapes through the bus window: first the bus will take you to Irkutsk, then, twisting over the picturesque mountain passes, – to the extreme south of Baikal; and finally – 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 in the valley 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.
First – a walking tour along the forest road to the Datsan – Buddhist church, where the guide will tell you about its history, specific rules of behaviour in Datsans, and Buddhism in Buryatia Republic.
Then you will visit the healing mineral springs (we advise you to take a glass or a plastic bottle with you), the picturesque mountain river Kyngarga, walk in the park of “Arshan” resort with its natural monuments and choose some interesting souvenirs at the amusing local market, where souvenirs are sold alongside with herbs curing nearly all possible illnesses.Afterwards we offer you to do an easy trekking through the Kyngarga river canyon which will show you those sceneries, which one can see in winter only: fast and swirling river stream under the thick ice crust, fantastic ice masses on the rocks resembling fairytale castles, bridges and grottoes.
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. A stopover at Kultuk observation platform to capture in a photograph the amazing panorama of the southern Baikal and Khamar-Daban mountain range.From this stopover to the very suburbs of Irkutsk you may enjoy the scenic Kultukskiy highway twisting and curving through the taiga.
Tour price includes:
- accommodation at hotels and lodges (twin occupancy): 4 nights in Irkutsk (room with private bathroom), 2 nights on Olkhon island (room with private bathroom), 2 nights in Arshan (room with private bathroom);
- meals as per programme;
- transfers as per programme;
- excursions as per programme.