Day 1: Meeting at 10.00 am on the central square, homestay accommodation. Rest. Lunch. City tour of Irkutsk. Discovery of old wooden houses, churches, the Decembrists museum, central marketplace and mall.
Day 2: Morning departure northwards of Irkutsk to Krestovsky Cape. You will see the Siberian countryside: small provincial boroughs, breeding Buryat villages. Having passed the immense Siberian meadows we will find ourselves in the steppes reminding Mongolian landscape. Visit to the national Buryat museum of Ust-Orda, meeting a shaman, discovery of shamanic practices. You will take part in a shamanic rite! Lunch in a Buryat cafe serving the traditional cuisine: posy, chebureki, Buryat tea etc. Several times we will stop over at picturesque sites to make offerings to the spirits of the places. In the afternoon, arrival to the farm lost in wild taiga. Accommodation. Walk around.
Day 3: After breakfast transfer to Olkhon Island. Arrival to the strait of Olkhonskiye Vorota ("Olkhon Gates"). Crossing of the strait by ferry. Drive to the village of Khuzhir, the capital of the island. On the way discovery of the ruins of the Kurykan wall which barred formerly the access to the holy site. Arrival in Khuzhir. Discovery of the Burkhan Rock, "place of residence of the Baikal's God" and one of the nine sanctuaries of Asia. We proceed to Uzury bay (eastern shore of the island). Accommodation at the weather station. Banya (Russian sauna) in the evening.
Day 4: After breakfast jeep (4x4) excursion to the north of the island. Discovery of Khoboy Cape (northernmost point of Olkhon), sacred site for shamans, spectacular 360° view. Lunch in the open air near the cape, tasting of fish soup. Then we will drive down to the cape of "Three brothers" to admire steep cliffs. Return to Uzury. Banya in the evening.
Day 5: Morning at leisure. Transfer to Khuzhir. Crossing of Lake Baikal in its widest part. This great cruise will really allow us to sail in the geographical centre of the lake. We will sail for several hours before we reach Ust-Barguzin, the village of fishermen located in Barguzinsky Gulf. Homestay overnight in the village.
Day 6: All-day excursion on Lake Baikal. Early in the morning we will start our drive to Monakhovo following the tongue of sand that separates two largest gulfs. On the way discovery of Barguzinsky Gulf and Svyatoy Nos Peninsula. Boarding a fish boat, grand tour of Chivyrkuysky Gulf. We will visit Zmeinaya Bay (bay of snakes) and its hot springs, bathing. Lunch in the open air, you will taste a local dainty, endemic fish of the lake – fresh omul. Return to Ust-Barguzin in the evening, homestay overnight, opportunity to take banya.
Day 7: All-day excursion to the Barguzin valley, passing by the village of Barguzin (not to be confused with Ust-Barguzin), first settlement site of the Russians over Lake Baikal. Picnic in the open air. Return to Ust-Barguzin in the evening, homestay overnight. Opportunity to take banya.
Day 8: Off day. Suggestions for visiting: cruise to Ushkany Archipelago to observe freshwater seal or ascent of the summit of Svyatoy Nos Peninsula ("Holy Nose"), 1877 m (at extra cost).
Day 9: Transfer to Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Republic of Buryatia. 270 km (168 mi) of way through taiga passing plenty of Buryat villages. Hotel check-in. Lunch at restaurant. Tour of Ulan-Ude. Dinner in the city at the restaurant serving traditional Mongolian cuisine. Hotel overnight.
Day 10: Visit to Ivolginsky Datsan, Buddhist temples complex outside the city located in a picturesque steppe. Discovery of Buddhist culture. This Datsan serving the most important place of worship in Buryatia is the centre of Buddhism in Russia. Lunch animated by a folk group at the restaurant with traditional Buryat cuisine, you will be served in real yurts! Visit to ethnographic museum in the open air: discovery of architecture and lifestyle of Buryats, Evenks, Russians and Cossacks.
Day 11: Leave for the village of Old Believers - Tarbagatay. We will visit traditional houses, enjoy a folk concert, participate in games and customs. Lunch in the village. Return to Ulan-Ude.
Day 12: Morning departure by the Trans-Siberian Railway to the south of Lake Baikal. This is probably the most beautiful part of the whole Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Vladivostok! We will travel along the Selenga River, the largest inflow of the lake, then the south-eastern shore of the Baikal. In the afternoon arrival in Slyudyanka where we will take the route to Arshan in Tunkinskaya valley. Homestead overnight.
Day 13: After breakfast visit to Buddhist temple, Datsan, possibility to attend a morning service at 10.00 am. Walk to the cascade of the Kyngarga River with marble bottom, discovery of sacred forest with mineral springs. Ionized air in the canyon of the river is healing. For more trained - opportunity to climb Peak Lyubvi (Peak of Love) (400 m/1300 ft level difference) to admire the panorama of the whole Tunkinskaya valley (3 hour walk de marche, steep slope). Walk around in the village.
Day 14: Early morning leave for Slyudyanka. Boarding the Circum-Baikal train. We will travel by the famous Circum-Baikal Railway that once linked the Trans-Siberian broken by Lake Baikal. Excursion, frequent stops at picturesque and culturally significant spots. During every stop you will hear about the place and its history from your guide. Lunch aboard. Arrival to Port Baikal, taking a ferry to cross the mouth of the Angara River towards Listvyanka. Transfer to the inn.
Day 15: In the morning excursion in the Baikal museum. Ropeway to Chersky Rock (or walk at wish, 30 min. walk), panorama of the lake and the Angara River. Discovery of the village, old wooden church. Lunch at restaurant with a great view of the Baikal. Port of the village and typical saleswomen of omul. At wish – tasting of smoked omul (endemic fish of the lake). Transfer to Irkutsk. En route visit to the Taltsy open-air museum located 50 km (31 mi) southeast of Irkutsk: traditional Russian wooden architecture. Arrival to Irkutsk in the afternoon. End of the programme.
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