Two of the most remote locations in the world - the South Gobi and Siberia - await you in this exotic 16-day exploration. Learn about Russia’s Soviet past as you tour different landmarks and museums telling stories of communist times. Camp in Ger-style tents as you interact with small local cultures spotted across the nearly-desolate South Gobi. Moscow, Irkutsk, Listvyanka, and Ulan-Ude are the perfect Siberian cities for a full tour of the area before continuing onto Mongolia’s isolated desert.
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Arrive in historic, stunning Moscow early in the morning. Transfer to your hotel after a long journey. Enjoy the drive into the city as you pass by incredible landmarks such as the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Leave the sprawling capital and fly to Irkutsk, where you will be met by your private car, driver and English-speaking city expert. After checking into the comfortable Sun Hotel, enjoy breakfast. Your driver will take you to the Znamensky Monastery, home to the major shrine commemorating Siberia’s most famous missionary. Later that day, take a stroll along Boulevard Gargarinsky on the leafy thoroughfare, Angara. Your friendly guide will lead you through the Decemberists Museum and a walking tour of the Decembrists’ wooden houses.
Rise early for breakfast and checkout. Travel in luxury on the charming old-world Circum Baikal Railway express train in the first class seats. The beautiful train is nicknamed “the golden buckle on the steel belt of Russia.” Upon arrival in Port Baikal, you will take a ferry to Listvyanka, where you check into Legend of Baikal Hotel.
Have a leisurely breakfast at your hotel as you aren’t met by your guide until midmorning. Your guide will take you to the quaint Krestovka Village and the 19th-century Church of St. Nicholas specifically. Next, peruse the Baikal Limnological Museum, dedicated to telling the fascinating story of the stunning lake and its surrounding flora and fauna. Finish your tour with a ride on the Baikal funicular for unrivaled views of the lake, Port Baikal and the Khamar-Daban mountains. On your way back to Irkutsk (an 80-minute drive), stop at the open-air Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture and Ethnography.
Today travel on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway to make your way to Ulan-Ude. Upon arrival in the capital of Russia’s Buryat Republic and the third-largest city in Eastern Siberia, check into your hotel, the Baikal Plaza Hotel. Enjoy dinner at the welcoming hotel and relax
After breakfast at your hotel, you are met by your friendly driver and guide. The city was closed to foreigners until 1991. The highly-regarded ethnographic museum is known for the gigantic bust of Lenin - at 25 feet tall and 42 tons - the statue towers over the central square. Take a walking tour of the “Old Town,” or “wooden Ulan-Ude,” as well as the streets of Smolina, Sverdlova, Banzarov, Naberezhnaya and Linkhovina After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Buddhist temple 14 miles from the city. This was originally the only Buddhist spiritual center in all of Russia. Finish the day with a tour of the Ethnographic Museum.
Start your touring today with a drive to Tarbagatai and Desyatnikovo, two villages of “Old Believers,” a sect that was once part of the Russian Orthodox Church but fled to Siberia during the late 1700s. Pay a visit to the Semeiskie Cultural Center, the Old Believer Church and local museum. Continue to Desyatnikovo, where you are welcomed for lunch by a local family. Your guide will act as a translator as you learn about the small culture’s way of life. Return to your hotel that evening.
Rise early to enjoy breakfast at your hotel before boarding the Trans-Siberian Railway Train to reach Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. You have the luxurious arrangement of a four-person sleeping car for just two people. The long train journey covers incredible scenery in one of the least inhabited areas in the planet
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar early in the morning. You are met by your guide and transferred to the Khan Palace Kempinski Hotel to refresh before traveling to the South Gobi. Have a late lunch at the hotel before checking out and flying to the Southern Gobi. Drive from Dalanzadgad to the Three Camel Lodge. The lodge was recently voted as one of the top 50 eco-lodges in the world.
A full-day excursion to Yol Valley is on the menu for the day. The famous ravine is often covered in a thick sheet of ice year-round. A resting place for the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, keep your eyes peeled to spot the rare creature. Take a camel ride through part of the Yol Valley. On your return to your hotel, stop at the Gurvan Saikhan Nature Museum.
Depart for a night away from the Three Camel Lodge as you travel to a new section of the Southern Gobi Desert. A giant sand dune, the Hongor Sands, stretching more than 100 miles in length, is your first stop of the day. During your visit, you will no doubt encounter one or more local families. The remote culture is more than happy to share their experiences and culture with you. Stay in a Ger camp near the sands for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Trot horseback across the Mongolian landscape as Mongols have for centuries. Horses still outnumber people in this unique section of the world. Return to the Three Camel Lodge this evening, where you will enjoy dinner and a comfortable sleep.
The famous Flaming Cliffs await as you tour the glowing-orange landmarks first thing today. The first fossilized dinosaur eggs were unearthed in the 1920s by explorer Roy Chapman Andrews at this location. Depending on the weather, you will either picnic or have lunch at the lodge. After lunch, depart Dalanzadgad and arrive in Ulaanbaatar. Once in Ulaanbaatar, you will check into the Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace and rest for the night.
Tour the unusual, soviet-era style city with your private guide and driver. Highlights include the Gandan Monastery, the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, the Mongolia Museum of Natural History and the Winter Palace of Bogd Khan. After dinner at your hotel this evening, enjoy a traditional performance of Mongol folk music and dancing.
After breakfast at your hotel this morning, transfer to the airport and fly to Moscow. You have the day in Moscow at your leisure. Check into the cozy Hotel Days, where you can relax and indulge in an authentic dinner.
Enjoy a full day exploring Moscow. Discover the historic landmarks at Red Square before a full tour of the Kremlin. The Armory Museum inside the Kremlin is considered one of Russia’s most fantastic museums. Next, visit the impressive St. Basil’s Cathedral. After lunch, visit the Tretyakov Gallery and see the world’s foremost collection of Russian fine art. Come evening, depart Domodedovo to catch your return flight.
Situated on the picturesque shoreline of Lake Baikal and lying in the shadow of the legendary Shaman Stone, this modern hotel really is one of the most impressive places to stay in Listvyanka. The hotel is also near the Angara River affluence,and the surrounding area is rich in fresh natural air, green pine trees and secluded shorelines along the perimeter of the lake. As for the hotel, interiors here feel luxurious yet cozy, with warm wood tones, large comfy beds and modern facilities found throughout the range of 39 rooms and suites. All come with electronic security systems, a local and international telephone connection, WiFi, satellite television, air-conditioning and most have balconies facing the lake. Elsewhere, guests are free to enjoy the hotel’s superb restaurant with panoramic views of Lake Baikal and the Angara River. There’s also an on-site swimming pool, sauna, games room and area for parking. Legend of Baikal Hotel is approximately one hour from the nearest major city of Irkutsk.
This four-star hotel is well-located for first-time visitors to Ulan Ude, just a two-minute walk from the city’s famed Philharmonic Hall and the Central Square. In addition to a good range of guestrooms and suites, which all come kitted-out with the latest facilities, Hotel Baikal Plaza also offers several international restaurants, a fitness center with sauna, and free WiFi access is available throughout. The choice of standard single, double, twin and deluxe doubles here all come with air conditioning, cable television, a refrigerator and a modern en-suite bathroom. The surrounding area is home to an excellent range of local and international-style shops, restaurants and bars, while Ulan Ude Train Station is a mere seven-minute drive from the hotel.
The Three Camel Lodge was constructed without nails from Siberian timber and local stone using traditional techniques, and is situated within view of the Gobi Desert's stunning Gobi-Altai Mountain Range. Built under environmentally and culturally sustainable guidelines, energy for the lodge is drawn partially from solar and wind power; the main building has a large shaded porch and remains cool and comfortable even on hottest desert days. The staff is a group of well-practiced folk musicians who don beautiful costumes and play the horse-head fiddle and other traditional instruments in the evening. Guest rooms are in 30 gers (yurts), made from latticed structures covered by layers of felt and canvas and heated with wood-burning stoves. The beds and furniture are hand-painted in vivid colors. The main lodge has a bar with a selection of beers, wines and spirits, a gift shop with local crafts and artwork and a business facility including fax service. Meals of traditional Mongolian cuisine are served in an over-sized ger, with ingredients fresh from local farms. There is no fitness center but you will not want for physical activities: a number of expeditions are possible, including hiking in the foothills of the Gobi-Altai Mountains, camel trekking through sand dunes, horseback riding through mountain valleys to local springs, and excavating dinosaur fossils at the Flaming Cliffs under the guidance of a paleontologist from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The Three Camel Lodge is 1.5 to two hours from the airport in the provincial capital of Dalanzadgad (DLZ).
This five-star contemporary hotel is situated in the city’s business district and more interestingly in Ulaanbaatar’s tallest building. The hotel, decorated in a classic European style, has many top quality facilities including an indoor pool, gym, wellness centre, sauna and a business centre. There are many services on offer to make your stay as comfortable and convenient as possible such as 24-hour room service, car rentals, currency exchange, laundry services, luggage storage, safety deposit boxes and a 24-hour front desk. Diners will be spoilt for choice with the Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and western food on offer at the hotel’s restaurants. The rooms feature free WiFi, flat-screen TVs with cable channels, en-suite bathrooms with a bathtub and shower facilities as well as a minibar luxury toiletries, hairdryers and slippers.