Join YPT for our exploration of the land of the nomad Buryats of Russia. In this tour, we will see some of Russia’s most beautiful sceneries and meet the Buryats an ethnicity of Russia which shares common ancestors with the Mongols. as we make our way from Ulan-Ude, capital of Buryatia by train to Irkutsk and the stunning Lake Baikal. This section of the transsiberian railway is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful so we’ll take the day train to see it properly. Train enthusiasts will rejoice! We’ll be exploring the city of Irkutsk, Siberia’s second city after Vladivostok, and one with an amazing history and culture of St Petersburg exiles and local ethnic groups.
We’ll be spending 3 nights in and around Lake Baikal on Olkhon Island, the biggest lake island in the world, its various villages and islands, including a visit to Stalin’s ‘fish gulag’ at Peshchanaya village, and a bonfire meal and drinks with the local Shamanistic Buryat people! We’ll ride around untouched sceneries of extreme beauty on the world’s biggest lake island. Hiking on scenic coasts and climbing up the dramatic Burkhan Cape.
Please note that it is also possible to skip Ulan-Ude join the tour in Irkutsk directly. Get in touch with us!
This tour can be done as a standalone tour or can follow our Mongolia Naadam Festival and Wilderness Tour where you take the train from Beijing, visit Mongolia’s highlights and biggest festival and then cross into Russia.
Tour meeting at Hotel Marrakesh at 10am. Your tour guide will go through our itinerary before we head off in the city of Ulan-Ude
We go check out Ulan Ude’s world famous Lenin Head Statue. It is three-story high!
We then head to Victory Park, the biggest park of Ulan-Ude, filled with soviet statues and the best place to people-watch in Ulan-Ude
Lunch at restaurant Tengis, specialised in Buryat fare.
We take a taxi and head north to Ulan Ude Ethnographic Museum. This open-air museum is one of the biggest in Russia, with over 11,000 exhibits. It will help us get an idea of the history of the land and the Buryat people.
We head back to town for dinner, this time at restaurant Buryatia. Every night, they put on a special buryat performance.
Walk around town to check out the cathedrals, statues and the Selenge statues
Stop by a classic soviet era bar to quench our thirst reasonably. We’re taking an early train tomorrow!
Overnight at our hotel
Saturday 18th July – Train/Irkutsk
Early morning check-out as we board train 069Я to Irkutsk. Along the way, we will pass some of Russia’s most magnificent sceneries. If you wanted to see the best of the transsiberian railway without actually doing the whole ride, this is it!
Arrival in Irkutsk at 16:20 local time.
Walking Tour of the 130th Quarter, we go to churches and monasteries, the planetarium and public observatory, the Eksperimentary Museum of Science, the ‘Window to Asia’ exhibition and the House of Folk Arts, all built to celebrate Irkutsk’s 350th anniversary
Head out for dinner at Rassolnik, a restaurant serving local recipes in a nostalgic soviet décor and drinks to find out what goes for a night out in Russia’s Far East!
Overnight in Irkutsk
Sunday 19th July – Listvyanka
Breakfast at the Hotel
We drive to the nearby village of Listvyanka to have our first look at Baikal Lake.
Drive out to Listvyanka village at Lake Baikal and check out the fish market and then scour the souvenirs market for Soviet kitsch. We get the opportunity to swim in the lake.
Picnic using local produces and Baikal, a local vodka famed all around Russia.
Visit Baikal Museum where huge aquariums are refilled with water from the lake and head on to the Under the Open Sky Museum
Drive back to Irkutsk
Dinner at a Nomad Restaurant. Those of us who were in Mongolia previously will reminisce on the taste of that wild land.
Evening walk around town, as this is a YPT tour, we’ll make our compulsory visit to a statue of Lenin
Overnight in Irkutsk
Monday 20th July – Olkhon Island
Early breakfast in the hotel
Depart for Olkhon Island, one of the largest lake islands in the world. It’s a 5-6 hour journey by bus and ferry but the scenery we pass through means it feels like a short trip!
Check in to our accommodation on the island
Lunch at the hotel Baikalov Ostrog styled after building built during the conquest of Siberia.
Visit Khuzhir village, the main settlement on the island and home to mostly Buryats, the native ethnic group
We’ll head on a trek to Burkhan Cape.
Dinner and overnight in Khuzhir
Tuesday 21st July – Olkhon Island
Head out after breakfast up to the northernmost point of the island – Khoboy using 4X4 to get there off-road!
We enjoy a traditional Buryat lunch cooked on an open fire of barbecued slated fish and ukha – traditional fisherman’s soup
We stop by Uzury a quaint and pleasant hamlet isolated from the rest of the world to understand how people live around here.
Head back to Khuzir and relax in a banya bath house (optional extra)
Dinner and overnight in Khuzir, we’ll keep warm with the help of an old friend – vodka!
Wednesday 22nd July – Olkhon Island
Today, we’ll head to the southern part of Olkhon for most of the day. We will first take a boat to island Ogoy.
We will be Island Hopping around the Islet of the Small Sea.
We finally reach Ogoy Island where the stupa of enlightenment, a holy site for the Buddhist Buryat, can be found.
It is hard to believe that we are still in the middle of a lake, as we will pass through steppes, sandy beaches and taiga.
We make our way to Khuzhir, stopping on the way in many of the abandoned villages, including Peschanaya, that used to form Stalin’s Fish gulags. While its history has been darkened, it remains a place of serene beauty.
Thursday 23rd July – Olkhon/Irkutsk
Breakfast at the hotel
Today, we have to cross all the way back to Irkutsk by bus, but the road ahead of us is certainly one of the most beautiful in the world.
Arrival in Irkutsk in the evening.
Dinner in the 130th Quarter followed by a pub crawl of the many bars in the surroundings. After all, we have to celebrate our last day!
Friday 24th July
Breakfast in the hotel and end of tour
End of tour. Connections by train and plane can be arranged by YPT.