CULTURAL EXPLORATIONS

The Quest to Siberia and the Gobi Desert

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TRIP SUMMARY

Both the Gobi Desert and lake Baikal conjure images of remote yet beautiful and untamed lands far far away… Join us on this classic Quest which combines best of both Russia and Mongolia. Lake Baikal is the deepest and biggest by volume fresh water lake containing 20% of the worlds fresh water and reaching depths of over a mile!

Our trip begins with a flight north to Siberian city Irkutsk to visit mighty Lake Baikal. This is a mongolian word meaning Nature. Until Russian settlers came here in early 18th century this part of Siberia was inhabited by Buryat Mongols and Evenks only. After touring best of lake Baikal we take a train to Mongolia, riding for 2 days on a branch of the Trans-Siberian railway. Upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar commence on the next leg of this epic quest – the enigmatic Gobi desert. Visit Mongolian camel herder families and trek the highest dunes of Hongoryn els.

Brief Daily Itinerary

Day 1. Seoul/ Irkutsk

Upon arrival, Mongolia Quest representative will meet and drive you to your hotel. On the Siberian map in the middle of XVII century. Overnight at centrally located hotel EMPIRE or similiar. Enjoy  a traditional Russian dinner this evening

Day 3. Sightseeing Irkutsk

Today, we will explore the great city of Irkutsk and its many museums. After lunch in a local restaurant, visit Bronshteyn Gallery, a new modern-art venue. It prominently features a collection of Dashi Namdakov’s sculptures inspired by Buddhist prayer dolls used by Buryats. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at hotel

Day 3. Slyudyanka and the Circum-Baikal railway

Early in the morning, we will check  out and drive a short distance to the central train station of Irkutsk to board our train 1.4 hour train to southern station called Slyudyanka. Our journey will conclude after we arrive at Listvyanka by a ferry from port Baikal. Here, we will transfer to local wooden dacha for dinner and overnight

Day 4. Irkutsk / Listvyanka

Explore Irkutsk and its excellent museums in the morning. Then, drive to Listvyanka,a village located in the South-west bank of Lake Baikal. Visit the Baikal and fish and freshwater seals. Transfer back to Irkutsk.

Day 5-6. Olkhon Islands

Spend these days visiting the “heart” of Baikal, the amazing Olkhon island. Enjoy a ferry ride to the island village and visit the highlights of the area. Overnight at hotel.

Day 7. Ushkanye islands

With weather allowing, we will enjoy a day trip on ferry to the Ushkanye islands, the home of world’s only fresh water seals. With an assistance of an experienced national park ranger, you will explore the islands and observe the unique mammals of the lake. Overnight at hotel.

Day 8-9. Irkutsk-Ulaanbaatar

In the afternoon, catch a hydrofoil to travel back to Irkutsk. After breakfast, transfer to the central airport for your 1.5 hour flight to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Upon arrival at the Chinggis Khaan international airport, meet your guide and driver transfer to your hotel. Dinner at local restaurants. Stay overnight a hotel

Day 10. Ulaanbaatar

Day trip to Hustai national park, home for last truly wild horse also known as “Przhevalsky horse. Lunch at the local camp. Return to UB for dinner and overnight

Day 11. Gobi Desert / Yol Valley

Fly over the vast Gobi desert, to arrive at the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. Visit the Yol Valley and hike in the gorge.

Day 12. Hongoryn Els sand dunes

In the morning, drive to the magnificent Hongoryn Els, the largest of the sand dunes in the Gobi. Hike in the dunes and enjoy riding camels.

Day 13. Flaming Cliffs

Drive back to your base camp. En route, explore the pre-historic Havtsgait petroglyphs site. Hundreds of ancient rock drawings are found on the top of a mountain. In the afternoon, explore the legendary Flaming Cliffs where the first dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen were found.

Day 14. Ulaanbaatar

In the morning, we will fly back to Ulaanbaatar and enjoy a last minute shopping and sightseeing. Enjoy a traditional cultural performance in the evening.

Day 15. Departure

Farewell and transfer to the airport for departure.

Trip Highlights:

  • Discover Mongolia’s southern frontier, the Gobi Desert and its vast, open basins
  • Enjoy riding two-humped camels on the sand dunes and visit traditional nomadic families to experience their hospitality
  • Explore Lake Baikal, world’s largest fresh water lake and the 20% of world’s fresh water
  • Enjoy meeting ordinary Russians in the traditional village and taste Russian vodka
  • Enjoy riding in the Trans-Mongolian railway and discover the geography on the two side of the border

Trip Logistics:

  • This trip requires a single entry visa for Russia. The visa invitation letter will be sent upon signing-up for the trip.
  • The trip begins in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar.
  • Travel to Russia is by flight on Mongolian domestic airline and the return journey from Russia is by train which takes 2 days to arriva back in Ulaanbaatar.
  • All train compartments are 4 berth standard rooms.
  • Most nationals do not need a travel visa to enter Mongolia. This and more information will be included in your pre-departure information.

DATES & PRICING

Trip Date:

August 5-19, 2020

Prices:
2 travelers:

$4,880 per person; twin occupancy

3-5 travelers:

$4,215 per person; twin occupancy

6-9 travelers:

$3,815 per person; twin occupancy

Irkutsk – UB airfare:

$180 per person.

UB – Gobi airfare:

$240 per person.

Single supplement:

$650 per person;

Post-Trip Lake Hovsgol Extension

Why not extend your journey and explore Mongolia’d highest national park and roof of Mongolia. The majestic Altai Tavan Bogd, or the “Five Peaks of the Altai Mountains”, located on the very edge of the western border with Russia and Kazakhstan. It is home to the local kazakh who came to settle in the area in the late 1800. Kazakhs train Golden Eagles for hunting and Kazakh embroideries are some of the finest in Central Asia. During this trip, we will also meet and explore the ethnic Uriankhai and Tuvan nomads and learn how archery is still practiced among them. Come to explore this unique land while enjoying trekking at this majestic national park.

ACCOMMODATIONS & TRANSPORTATION

Ulaanbaatar_hotel

Hotel Ulaanbaatar

Hotel Ulaanbaatar is conveniently located in downtown Ulaanbaatar and is a very well established hotel with a friendly staff. All major atractions of UB are located with a walking distance of the hotel.

PRIVATE SIBERIA QUEST

Hotels in Siberia

Most hotels in Siberia were built in the Soviet era so they are reminiscent of the old Soviet Russian architecture. They are clean, comfortable and cozy. Of course don’t miss a chance to use Russian banyas found in the smaller villages.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ger camps in Mongolia

Throughout the rest of the program, you will be staying at cozy and authentic ger camps with western bathroom and restaurant facilities. Most visitors find staying in gers as one of the highlights of their trip to Mongolia.

LandCruiserTogtoh

Land Transportation:

Land transportation is provided by Toyota Land Cruiser jeeps seating  3 passangers per vehicle. Some roads can be bumby and hard but our drivers are some of the most experienced and reliable in the country.