Discover the mysterious and inaccessible heartland of Siberia on a ten day loop of the Sayan mountains. From the thriving, historic city of Krasnoyarsk with its churches and monuments, experience a slower pace of life in the traditional mountain villages and finally venture deep into nature. Camp in authentic nomadic yurts and explore the flora and fauna of the taiga, witness mystic shamanic displays and visit ruined Buddhist temples. Visit outdoor museums full of archaeological wonders revealing traditions of ancient cultures. Hike through the mountains and marvel at the scenery: glittering lakes and rushing rivers, grassy meadows and rocky steppes.
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On arrival in the pretty city of Krasnoyarsk, check into your central hotel before hitting the town for a tour of all the historical sights. Orientate yourself with the view from the mountaintop Paraskeva Pyatnitsa chapel before lunch. In the afternoon explore the Bobrovy Log fun park, with views of the neighboring national park. Discover local history at the city’s ethnography museum before dinner and a good night’s sleep at the hotel.
After an early breakfast, embark upon an epic 8-hour journey to the Sayan mountains in southern Siberia, through Divnogorsk and across the Yenisei river across the mighty Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric dam. After lunch in Abakan the capital of Khakassia, head onwards to the traditional village of Shushenskoe for a taste of authentic farming life. Experience local life, eating, sharing, playing and celebrating with the locals and bed down in a comfortable guest house, decorated in the traditional style but with all the creature comforts.
After a home-cooked breakfast, visit the village’s ethnographic museum, spread over seven hectares along the riverbank. Discover historic Siberian lifestyle and share a cup of traditional tea. After lunch, the journey continues to Tuva through wildly varying scenery. As evening draws near, you will reach your traditional yurt camp and enjoy an authentic meal followed by Tuvian entertainment under the stars.
First thing this morning, you’ll head into Kyzyl, the capital city of the Tuvian region to see the giant globe of the Geographical Centre of Asia. A morning of religious harmony follows with a visit to a Buddhist temple and later a Shaman community. After lunch, discover fascinating archaeological finds in the Regional Museum, followed by an afternoon to yourself. In the evening head back to the yurt camp for dinner, a special tea ceremony and a Shaman show.
After breakfast, it’s time to head into the Sayan mountains and through the sacred places including Khairkhan mountain, which the Dalai Lama considered a place of significant power. Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the flora and fauna and meet the Tuvian nomadic people. Explore the restored Buddhist temple of Ustuu-Khuree before reaching the ‘Snow Leopard’ forest camp, on the banks of the River Stoktysh. Relax here for the evening and bed down for the night.
Allow yourself to be immersed in nature with a range of activities to choose from. Depending on the conditions, take the hike to Mayak mountain or Lake Marankul, across the bridge of love or visit a Tibetan medicine man. Discover the healing properties of a steam in a Russian Banya and cool off with a dip in the lake. Gather round the campfire back at Snow Leopard for a peaceful evening beneath the stars.
After a final breakfast in the Snow Leopard camp, big goodbye to the taiga and head for the delightful valley of Kyug. Stop to visit the Khurtuyakh Tas fertility shrine, where women come to pray for children. When you reach the valley, nestled between two mountain ranges, relax in your wooden yurts, built in the Khakassian style. Tonight, enjoy a simple meal made with local ingredients and enjoy entertainment from folk dancers.
A morning spent in the outdoor National Museum of Khakassia sheds light on its ancient civilizations as well as its fascinating terrain, flora and fauna, including painted caves. Later, pay a visit to the Khakassian village of Aal, to see the traditional lifestyle in action. Back at the yurt camp, enjoy dinner and another visit to the Banya before retiring.
Begin the long journey back to the city with a stop off in Abakan to see the stone monuments at Regional museum of Khakassia. From here it’s on to the Valley of Kings, a breathtaking series of enormous burial hills said to be a source of shamanic powers. After a picnic lunch, continue on to Krasnoyarsk to check into your city hotel for dinner and rest.
Enjoy a final farewell breakfast in the hotel at Krasnoyarsk before checking out and meeting your driver to travel onwards to the airport or railway station, after an unforgettable adventure.
Being one of the most modern hotels in Krasnoyarsk, Hilton Garden Inn is conveniently located in the city center next to plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. The Hilton name is a trusted hotel brand throughout the world, and this Krasnoyarsk branch is no different; rooms come smartly furnished with all the modern day conveniences you would expect from a quality four-star hotel. This includes a choice of comfy twin or double beds, air conditioning and heating, spacious en-suite bathrooms, satellite TV and WiFi access throughout the hotel. Early rises shouldn’t miss out on the Hilton’s excellent buffet breakfast, which is served downstairs at Garden Grill & Bar – a venue that also serves a menu of international dishes throughout the day. There’s also a 24-hour gym on-site, and guests can reach the city’s main train station in around 15 minutes.
One of the largest and most popular hotels in Krasnoyarsk is the namesake Krasnoyarsk Hotel, situated in the city center next to the Yenisei River. Many of the rooms here offer delightful riverside views, and all come well furnished and equipped with all the latest facilities such as WiFi, satellite TV, heating controls, mini fridges and safe-deposit boxes. Although the furnishings here are a little dated, beds are comfy, room sizes are large and the range of sleeping options is flexible, with single, double and triple guestrooms and suites available. A buffet spread is served for breakfast in the downstairs restaurant, and there are also four other dining and drinking venues spread across this large hotel. Other amenities here include a large conference room, meeting hall, on-site parking and fitness room. Surrounding the hotel is a long list of entertainment venues too, such as live theater, opera, bars, restaurants and museums.
This bright hotel is located in the heart of Abakan, particularly well-placed for first-time visitors wanting to be nearby the city’s main attractions, shopping, dining and nightlife. The range of rooms here come in all different shapes, sizes and colors (look out for the bright salmon-pink rooms) and are well-equipped with flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, spacious en-suite bathrooms and toiletries. There is also free WiFi throughout and a helpful reception desk downstairs stays open 24 hours a day. Abakan Hotel is a 15-minute walk from the main train station in the city.
One of the best ways to spend a night in the remote Siberian region of Abakan is to bed down under the stars in yurts. These are a centuries-old form of accommodation, originating in the Central Asian region and comprised of transportable poles and fabrics, which, when assembled, create a warm and secure teepee-like tent. Inside, you’ll also be provided with comfy bedding, including a warm duvet and mattress or raised bed to sleep on. Wake up surrounded by the impressive Abakan countryside, with rolling mountains and vast, untouched plains stretching as far as the eye can see.
This has long been a traditional form of accommodation throughout the Central Asia region, and there is no better way to spend the night in Kyzyl than bedding down for the night under the stars in your own yurt. This transportable teepee-like tent is comprised of sturdy materials that are draped over foundation poles and nailed into the ground, and along with warm and comfy bedding. Staying in a yurt can be an unforgettable experience; while there are a couple of hotels in the main Kyzyl town center, this impressive region of Siberia is best experienced by heading into the countryside, which boasts large mountains and vast, barren plains that stretch for miles.