Irkutsk – Listvyanka – Circum-Baikal Line – Slyudyanka – Arshan - Ust-Orda – Irkutsk
9 days / 8 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 tour 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 and come to Baikal port – a big train station and port, where there is no automobile road. 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.
Today you will get acquainted with Baikalsk – a town on the shore of Baikal. You might have heard about the local Pulp and Paper Plant – so, it is this very enterprise that once brought about the town of Baikalsk and the 50-year-long fight for Baikal’s ecology. However, the main sight here is not the notorious plant; it is the splendid nature and unique microclimate of the Khamar-Daban. In winter the area attracts thousands of downhill skiers and snowboarders, and in summer.
Today you will tour around another town – Slyudyanka – the well-known “mineralogical pearl” of the Baikal region. Mica and marble are the main industrial minerals of the area. However, it is far more interesting to see some unique gems collected by hand, that is why we invite you to a private museum - “The Baikal Gems” to examine minerals collected by Mr. Zhigalov and numbering several thousands now. He will fascinate you telling about the natural wealth of this territory, which could be compared, perhaps, only to the Urals.
Not far from the settlement, jutting for 500 m into the lake there is the so-called Shaman-cape – the sacred place for the Buryats and Mongols, a natural monument and popular place of rest among tourists and local residents. In ancient times, people used to perform religious rites here, and the cape was called Ayha-Shulun – “Horrible Rock”.
After the sightseeing – 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.
Today you will indulge in the leisurely life of this resort settlement and explore its natural sights.
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. 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 the 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.
Then – 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.
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.
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.
Departure to Ust-Orda settlement – the capital of the Ust-Ordynskiy Buryat Autonomous Okrug. Upon arrival – excursion to the Local Lore Museum with an exposition displaying the history of the peoples who have inhabited the region since the Paleolithic era. Here you will get acquainted with the customs, traditions and beliefs of the Western Buryats as well as with the natural and geographic peculiarities of the area.
Meeting with a real shaman and taking part in an ancient ritual.
Lunch of national Buryat cuisine. Return to Irkutsk.
Today is the final day of the tour, and 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).A visit to the Ferris Wheel, from the height of which a panoramic view of the entire central part of Irkutsk city opens. After the sightseeing you will have some time for shopping at the central market and a souvenir store.
Tour price includes:
- accommodation at hotels and lodges in Irkutsk (2 nights), Listvyanka (1 night), Utulik (2 nights), Arshan (3 nights), on twin-sharing basis;
- meals as per program;
- all transfers and excursions as per program, except for those specified for extra charge;
- guides’ services*;
- museum entrance fees as per program, except for those specified for extra charge;
- ticket for the Circum-Baikal Line trip.
Surcharge for foreign-language guide: 25 000 RUR per group.