Tuva & Lake Baikal
Journey into South Siberia and the remote republics of the Russian Federation to discover a fascinating cultural heritage and unexpected natural beauty. The Tuvan people of the region are similar to the Mongols, and many of the historically semi-nomadic population still tend herds of yaks, goats, sheep, cows, and reindeer. See the ancient burial mounds of Khakassia; explore Shushenskoye, where Lenin was exiled; attend a shaman ceremony; and visit Siberian families in their homes. Listen to the eerie sounds of Tuvan throat-singing and enjoy a concert of chimes by a master bell ringer at an Orthodox church in Irkutsk. At Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world, travel by hydrofoil and 4x4 vehicles during your exploration of Olkhon Island.
- Hydrofoil across UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal to sacred Olkhon Island, picnicking on the northernmost cape, Khoboi, whose name means “tusk” or “fang.”
- Experience a traditional shaman ceremony in remote Tuva, based on an animistic spiritual belief that used to be an integral part of Tuvan life.
- Discover the otherworldly sounds of throat-singing at a traditional performance.
Schedule by day
- July 10: Depart USA
- July 11: Arrive Moscow / connect to Abakan
- July 12: Arrive Abakan
- July 13: Abakan / Shushenskoye
- July 14: Shushenskoye / Kyzyl
- July 15: Kyzyl / day trip to Samagaltai
- July 16: Kyzyl
- July 17: Kyzyl / fly to Irkutsk
- July 18: Irkutsk / hydrofoil to Olkhon Island
- July 19: Olkhon Island
- July 20: Olkhon Island / drive to Irkutsk
- July 21: Irkutsk / day trip to Listvyanka
- July 22: Depart Irkutsk
- $7,995 per person double occupancy
- $695 single supplement
- 1 night Hotel Anzas or similar, Abakan
- 1 night Shushenskoye Guesthouse, Shushenskoye
- 3 nights Hotel Odugen or similar, Kyzyl
- 4 nights Hotel Marriott Courtyard or similar, Irkutsk (4 nights in 2 stays)
- 2 nights Baikal View Hotel or similar, Olkhon Island
Activity level: This program is designed to be adventurous, but also as comfortable as possible for rustic travel in this region. Accommodations will vary from four-star hotels in Abakan and Irkutsk to simple and basic accommodations in Shushenskoye, Kyzyl, and on Olkhon Island.
You will be traveling in some areas which, relatively speaking, have seen few travelers, and the infrastructure is not yet fully developed – particularly in Tuva. This adventurous tour is rated as rigorous touring due to the daily walking involved, the length of some bus/jeep rides over rough terrain and the overall shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure. To reap the full rewards of this adventure, travelers must be able to walk at least two miles a day including some hills and stairs, keeping up with fellow travelers; and carry their own baggage when necessary. Travel in remote Siberia often involves driving over rough, dusty and unpaved roads in basic vans or off-road vehicles.
It is important to keep in mind that Siberia is not up to the standards North American travelers expect. Services are improving in the region; nevertheless, you may encounter problems with plumbing, bureaucratic service, rough road conditions, unpaved sidewalks, uneven surfaces and steps, availability and quality of public restrooms, and variety of locally available foods. Tuva is a wild land, and tourists rarely venture here.
Kathryn Wasserman Davis Professor of Slavic Studies, Professor of History and Director of Russian Area Studies at Wellesley College and Center Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University
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