Over 15 days, you will explore one of the most expansive regions on our planet - Siberia. It accounts for around 77 percent of Russia’s land area, yet is incredibly remote. The scenery here is spectacular, with snowcapped mountains, verdant meadows and dazzling rivers that stretch out - unspoilt - to the horizon. Heading towards Russia’s ever-developing capital, you will cross over the majestic Sayan mountains and travel through Tuva’s wild landscapes, passing through the spectacular Kyug valley and visiting ancient petroglyphs in Khakassia along the way. Enjoy varied accommodation throughout the trip, from well-appointed hotel rooms to exotic nights under a starry blanket in traditional felt yurts. Discover ancient traditions that are still alive today, concealed amidst the heart of this wild region and hidden charms in its vibrant cities.
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Arrive early into Krasnoyarsk airport and get a transfer to the city to check into a hotel to sample some of your first local cuisine and rest after your travels. Take a guided tour around the Regional Museum, considered to be one of the best historical museums in Siberia. A stop for lunch is followed by a visit to the Stolby National Park to view some magnificent rock formations. Dinner awaits on your arrival back to the city before embarking on a sightseeing tour, where a trip to the Paraskeva Pyatnitsa chapel boasts panoramic views over the city and mountainous surroundings. Tonight, your train will depart to Abakan at 22:00, and you will spend the night in one of its unique sleeper cabins.
Waking in the train, you will be greeted with breakfast before disembarking at Abakan to start a day of sightseeing. The tour begins with a trip to Minusinsk where the N.M. Martyanov museum is located, and after a quick stop for lunch, the tour resumes to visit the city’s main attractions, including Spas Cathedral, the vibrant cultural market and traditional merchant houses before heading to Gladenkaya Ski Resort to check in. Recuperate in the spa complex and take a look around the resort at your leisure where you will enjoy an evening meal and comfortable stay in a charming wooden chalet.
Today’s action-packed day starts with an excursion to Shushenskoe, an ethnographical museum that displays beautifully preserved Siberian artifacts. Lunch at an authentic tavern follows before visiting the quaint village of Tanzybei to sample home-baked cookies and organic produce from a local family. In the afternoon, commence the 6-hour drive over the West Sayan mountains, which, according to legend, mark the outline of a great Khakasian warrior. Arriving in the region of Tyva, you will have the chance to visit the site of an archaeological dig where the infamous burial mound of Arjaan II was discovered, before travelling the banks of the Biy-Khem river to the yurt complex where you will spend the night. After dinner, a night listening to local throat singers makes a memorable end to the day.
Today’s itinerary starts with a visit to Kyzyl and the Geographical Center of Asia. More eastern traditions can be seen at a local Buddhist temple, where you will have the opportunity to witness the sermon of the Lama. A local restaurant will offer up traditional dishes for dinner and after, view some exquisite archaeological finds in the Regional Museum of Tyva. Arriving back to the yurt camp, you will be greeted with a supper of traditional Tuvan delicacies and enjoy Shaman’s Kamlaniye, an awe-inspiring show where Shamans display a ritual between them and spirits.
Follow the same path as the ancient Nomads, crossing Tyva from the east to reach Khakasia (around 4 hours). Traveling through mountain passes, you will venture past energetically-charged areas and stop at the sacred mountain of khairkhan. This stunning site is one that Dalai Lama XIV selected to possess energetic powers and where local shamans come to purify their spirits. Visit a family of local nomads in traditional yurt before a lunch stop in the beautiful rugged outdoors under the Seven Sisters. For the next two nights, your accommodation will be at the ‘Snow Leopard’ camp, where you will sample traditional Taiga cuisine amidst colorful surroundings and refreshing alpine air.
Day six of this exclusive tour is reserved for the exploration of the unique surroundings of Taiga. Choose to hike or ride on horseback to view the spectrum of colors that make up surreal landscapes. Depending on the season, you can collect fruits of the forest: try Siberian cedar nuts and experience a Russian Banya, believed to have healing properties. Enjoy a traditional lunch and dinner in front of the warmth of the fireplace and savor a night in sublime tranquility within the stunning landscapes of the Cedar Taiga.
After breakfast, embark on the 3-hour journey to Khakassia, stopping at Khurtuyakh Tas, a sacred monument believed to help with fertility. Approximately 85 miles from Abakan, you'll pass through the naturally-beautiful Kyug valley. Check in to the Kyug yurt complex before visiting the state museum reserve of Khakassia to view mysterious age-old petroglyphs. Return to the camp for an authentic dinner accompanied by a performance from the Khakassian National Folklore group.
Around two hours after leaving the yurt complex, you will arrive in Abakan. Take a trip to view the mysterious stone statues at the Republican Regional Museum, believed to possess energetic powers. After lunch, travel down to the ‘Valley of Tsars,’ an exceptional burial site of around 30 centuries-old mounds. The highlight of this area is the Great Salbyk Mound, a huge site with high stone walls weighing up to 60 tonnes. Return to Abakan for dinner before catching an overnight train to Krasnoyarsk.
Your overnight train arrives into Krasnoyarsk early to catch a crisp, Siberian morning. You will then have some free time to explore the local surroundings of the city, the third-largest in Siberia, at your leisure and try out some local cuisine for breakfast before catching your next train just before noon. The total journey time takes just over 24 hours, perfect for relaxing in the cabin and enjoying picture-perfect Siberian scenery as it flies by your window.
Arriving into Ulan-Ude at 13:16, you will be taken to a modern hotel to check in. This region still maintains its traditional charm and is alive with authentic cultures, which are visible on a tour around the city. The trip will take you past major attractions, including three iconic theaters, Lenin Head, Hodgitria temple and Lysaya Gora for panoramic views over the city, before heading back to your hotel for a night’s rest.
Wake up early in the picturesque surroundings of this vibrant city and enjoy breakfast in the hotel before heading to the Ethnographical Museum for some cultural insights. For lunch, you will have the opportunity to sample some traditional Buryat cuisine in the renowned YUTRA restaurant before heading to the Buryat village of Azagat, 37 miles away, to visit a local Buddhist monastery. Today’s tour will finish with dinner with a local family or picnic in picturesque surrounds, accompanied by Buryat folk songs.
Today will start with breakfast in the hotel before heading out to Ivolginsky Datsan, the main Buddhist Temple of Russia. Here, you will have time to walk around and catch a glimpse of the typical lifestyle of a Buddhist monk. After, stop for lunch in a city restaurant and head off to the Old-believers village, where you can witness the practice of a hidden religion lost to time. Tonight, enjoy dinner in the village, listening to the sounds of a folk concert and depart at 22:01 by train to Irkusk.
Arriving into Irkutsk at 07:30, you will be transferred to a modern hotel to check in. You will have time to enjoy breakfast at the hotel and rest in your well-appointed room after your journey. In the afternoon, venture into the city for lunch in a local restaurant and embark on a city tour. The highlight of the tour is the Decembrists Museum, where cultural representations are on display to showcase local traditions. In the evening, head back to your hotel for dinner and a comfortable night’s rest.
Your penultimate day in Siberia starts with breakfast in the hotel, followed by a trip to the unique Taltsy open-air museum and St.Nicolas church in the rustic Kresovka village and a full day tour of Lake Baikal. Set in the heart of Asia, it is one of the oldest and largest lakes on the globe and leaves a lasting impression on everyone who visits its shores. After some time exploring picturesque surrounds and taking in exquisite scenery, it’s time for lunch in Listvyanka and a trip to the Museum of Lake Baikal where characteristics and the various ecosystems of the lake are displayed. Take a funicular ride to Chersky Peak to observe the Baikal panorama from above, before crossing its still, mirror-like waters by boat. Spend the evening to yourself and enjoy your last night in a hotel.
The last day of your tour starts with an early morning breakfast in the hotel. Take in the last of Siberian scenes from your transfer to Irkutsk airport, where you will catch your flight to the bustling capital city of Moscow.
Irkutsk is a city full of aging and rundown hotels, but thankfully the recent opening of Courtyard by Marriott addressed this problem, offering modern and comfortable rooms alongside a range of facilities and amenities. Heralded as the best hotel in the city, this three-star hotel has a globally-recognized name that all travelers can trust. Rooms number 208 (including eight suites) and come well-appointed with carpeted floors, large comfy beds, WiFi, satellite television, heating controls and stylish en-suite bathrooms. Courtyard by Marriott Irkutsk is also ideally placed in the city center, just a short walk from Kirov Place, the Angara River, a popular drama theater and the art museum. The UNESCO World Heritage Center of Baikal Lake is also around a one-hour drive from the hotel. In terms of on-site amenities, guests are spoilt for choice with a range of dining options including an all-day international restaurant, bar, meeting room and fitness room.
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.