Green tile roof of a Buddhist monastery in Mongolia

Tibetan Budhist monastery

Mongolian Buddhism is predominantly the Yellow Hat sect of Buddhism as practiced in Tibet, but over time it has evolved its own version, incorporating pre-Buddhist and shamanistic influences.

Photo by Bill Abbott

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Lake Baikal to Mongolia

Land of Shamans, Monks, and Nomads
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Lake Baikal to Mongolia route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 11 days
Arrive: Irkutsk, Russia
Depart: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Lodging: 4 nights hotels, 3 nights lodges and ger camps, 2 nights guesthouse, 1 night homestay
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Rugged road travel with light hiking
3

Highlights

  • Meet a shaman on Olkhon Island, cross Lake Baikal by hydrofoil
  • Visit remote monasteries and summering nomads on Mongolia’s grasslands
  • Try your hand at Mongolian horseback riding
  • Explore the mysteries surrounding the burial place of Genghis Khan on a hike to a sacred grove
  • Overnight in traditional ger camps offering gorgeous views

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

Siberia’s mystical Lake Baikal and the infinite grasslands of Mongolia are the extraordinary settings of this epic cultural and natural history adventure. You’ll hike on Baikal’s sacred Olkhon Island, meet with a shaman, look for elusive nerpa, the world’s only freshwater seal, be welcomed at a village of Old Believers near Ulan Ude, and cross a remote border into the Mongolian heartland to discover a magnificent Buddhist monastery. Visiting nomad camps where we may share a drink of airak—mare’s milk—you’ll be immersed in the traditional life of this fascinating and once-forbidden land.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Irkutsk, Russia / Lake Baikal / Olkhon Island

From Irkutsk, we journey to Lake Baikal’s legend-filled Olkhon Island, learning about the lake’s spirits and sacred sites from a shaman. Our Buryat-owned guesthouse offers fantastic views of the lake and surrounding mountains and the opportunity to enjoy a Russian banya (sauna).

Days 4-5
Ushkaniye / Ust-Barguzin / Ulan Ude

The Ushkaniye Islands give us our best chance to see nerpa, Baikal’s freshwater seals, and our homestay in Ust-Barguzin offers an amazing experience of Siberian life and the local Buryat culture. In Ulan Ude, enjoy a special dinner at a village of Old Believers, an orthodox sect exiled by Catherine the Great in the 17th century.

Days 6-8
Amarbayasgalant / Mongolia

A rarely traveled overland crossing brings us into Mongolia, a world of pristine birch forests and beautiful grasslands dotted with the white gers of nomads and horses grazing beneath the infinite blue sky. We experience renowned Mongolian hospitality at nomad camps, and at Amarbayasgalant Monastery, share tea with the monks. Take in brilliant sunrises and vistas from our comfortable ger camp and even have the chance to try your hand at Mongolian horseback riding.

Days 9-11
Ulaanbaatar

Visit Gandan Monastery, the fascinating ethnographic collections of the National Museum, and enjoy a performance by Mongolian dancers and hoomi (throat) singers. Depart on Day 11.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 3, Moderate, according to our trip grading system. It is an overland cultural adventure, and for the most part, physical activity is light (all hiking is optional) but we still encourage participants to get in shape for the trip because travel to remote places does require some physical stamina. Our accommodations include five nights in comfortable hotels, a homestay in Ust-Barguzin, two nights in a guesthouse on Olkhon Island (basic twin-bedded rooms and a shared toilet and shower facility), two nights in ger camps (two-person yurt-style tents with beds, small stoves for heat, and shared toilet and shower facilities), and one night in deluxe ger-style cottages. Our journey from Siberia into Mongolia involves travel on remote roads that are often bumpy and dusty. Please note that you will be visiting areas where tourism has been relatively limited. We ask that you make a special effort to bring flexibility and a spirit of adventure to this unique journey.

Explanation of Trip Levels

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2015 Departures

Arrival:
Irkutsk, Russia
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Irkutsk, Russia (airport code IKT)
Suggested Arrival Time: anytime
Departure:
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Date: Day 11

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (airport code ULN)
Suggested departure time: anytime

2016 Departures

Arrival:
Irkutsk, Russia
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Irkutsk, Russia (airport code IKT)
Suggested Arrival Time: anytime
Departure:
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Date: Day 11

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (airport code ULN)
Suggested departure time: anytime

Hotel Imperia

Hotel Imperia

Day 1 (1 night), Irkutsk, Russia

Located just off Kirov Square,  the Imperia (also known as the Empire) is a relatively new hotel and very convenient for exploring the town. ...
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Baikal Hotel

Baikal Hotel

Days 2 to 3 (2 nights), Olkhon Island, Russia

This simple, 18-room lodge on Olkhon Island offers great views of Lake Baikal and the beach (in the evenings you can even hear the surf). Guest ...
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Homestay

Day 4 (1 night), Ust-Barguzin, Russia

Our accommodation in the village of Ust-Barguzin is a simple private home, but nothing introduces a traveler to the local people and culture of a country like a homestay. Home-cooked meals, warm hospitality, and friendly conversations with our hosts offer a rare glimpse into the lives of the everyday people. Our hosts are very welcoming and enjoy interacting with visitors. If our group size is larger than six people, we may stay in two houses that are next to each other.

Hotel Geser

Hotel Geser

Day 5 (1 night), Ulan Ude, Russia

The Geser is a modern hotel just a short walk from the central square in Ulan Ude. It offers comfortable air-conditioned rooms, a breakfast buffet, ...
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Mongolian Ger Camps

Mongolian Ger Camps

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Mongolia

Gers are the traditional yurt-like tents used by Mongolian nomads for centuries, and these simple fixed camps are specially built and ...
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HS Khaan Resort Hotel

HS Khaan Resort Hotel

Day 8 (1 night), Tov Province, Mongolia

With cottages inspired by the gers that dot the vast Mongolian prairies, the HS Khaan Resort Hotel offers you incredible views of the rolling ...
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Ulaanbaatar Hotel

Ulaanbaatar Hotel

Days 9 to 10 (2 nights), Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

The Ulaanbaatar Hotel has an ideal location within walking distance of the city’s great museums, restaurants, and shopping. Although ...
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Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions option:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Azaa Choijoo

Azaa Choijoo was born and raised amid the rolling hills and grasslands of Mongolia’s eastern steppes, and has been a professional Trip Leader since 1998. Fluent in English, Russian, and Kalkh Mongol, Azaa is a graduate of the Institute of Foreign Languages in Ulaanbaatar. During the school year, she teaches Russian and English at a Middle School in 'UB,' and describes her homeland as “one of the few countries with an untouched nature—a land with no fences, free and unchanged in millennia, with a magnificent culture where you are welcomed at every door.” Although she loves all of Mongolia, she has a particular fondness for the Gobi, with its vast open spaces, stillness, and variety of landscapes. A delightful leader with boundless energy and an incredible command of her country’s history, Azaa loves sharing Mongolia’s natural beauty and fascinating culture, especially facilitating visits with local families. “At first people seem shy and not so talkative. But after a few questions they become more open. I want my trip members to intercommunicate with nomadic families and experience their life.” When not leading trips, Azaa lives in Ulaanbaatar with her husband and two children, and visits her parents at their ger in the countryside.

Upcoming Trips:

Wild Mongolia, September 28-October 10, 2015
In the Realm of Genghis Khan, July 5-17, 2016
Wild Mongolia, September 27-October 9, 2016

Client Testimonials:


Azaa was amazingly patient and unfailingly calm and professional, while also perfectly friendly. A simply wonderful guide in every way! Alan R., Santa Cruz, CA
In the Land of Genghis Khan
Azaa was the best trip guide I have ever experienced. She was helpful, resourceful, patient, attentive, and unflappable. Without her, the trip would not have been as great. What a pleasure to travel with her! Phebe J., Escondido, CA
In the Land of Genghis Khan
An intelligent, knowledgable, personable, skillful, tactful, competent guide—A1. Sue Z., San Anselmo, CA
In the Land of Genghis Khan
Aaza was an excellent guide. Our wonderful interaction with the people was facilitated by her warm manner. Jean B., Carmel, CA
In the Land of Genghis Khan
Azaa was superb—very informative and responsive to our needs. Bill D., Champaign, IL
In the Land of Genghis Khan
Azaa was very knowledgeable and friendly. Becky H., Chandler, AZ
Wild Mongolia
Azaa rocks! Mary W., Crosby, TX
Wild Mongolia

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

Mongolia

hovsgol lake mongolia

Lake Hovsgol Extension

Exploring Mongolia’s “Dark Blue Pearl”

Cultural Adventures, Walking
5 days  -  Level 2