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 route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7795  
Length: 14 days
Arrive: Irkutsk, Russia
Depart: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Lodging: 5 nights hotels, 5 nights lodges and ger camps, 2 nights homestays, 1 night guesthouse
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Rugged road travel with light hiking


  • Witness a shaman ceremony on Olkhon Island, cross Lake Baikal by hydrofoil
  • Visit remote monasteries and summering nomads on Mongolia’s grasslands
  • Explore the Gobi’s Flaming Cliffs, where the first dinosaur eggs were discovered
  • Ride Bactrian camels at the Moltsog Els dunes

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.


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.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Siberia’s mystical Lake Baikal and the great grasslands and wild Gobi Desert of Mongolia are the extraordinary settings for this epic cultural and natural history adventure. From vast Lake Baikal, which astonishes travelers with its clarity and ethereal light, we travel overland to the Mongolian heartland, exploring nomadic encampments and meeting monks in a remote monastery en route. The enormous Gobi Desert, home to Bactrian camels, petroglyphs, dinosaur fossils, and the sand dunes of Moltsog Els, is the wonderful grand finale to our journey. Witnessing a Buryat shaman ceremony, hiking at Lake Baikal’s sacred Olkhon Island, exploring the Gobi’s legendary Flaming Cliffs, sleeping under the stars in a Mongolian ger camp—this is a magnificent “back of beyond” adventure!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Irkutsk / Lake Baikal / Olkhon Island

From Irkutsk, Siberia’s cultural capital, we head to Lake Baikal’s legend-filled Olkhon Island, stopping to witness a traditional Buryat shaman ceremony along the way. Arriving on Olkhon, we explore Burkhan Cape, the tip of which is graced by a sacred marble rock considered to be one of the holiest sites in Asia.

Days 4-5
Ust-Barguzin / Ulan Ude

We cross Lake Baikal to Buryatia, ancient homeland of Mongols who lived here long before Genghis Khan swept through Asia. A welcoming homestay offers a rare glimpse into this fascinating culture. In Ulan Ude, we take tea with the monks of Ivolginsky Datsan Monastery, the center of Buddhism in Russia, and enjoy dinner at a village of Old Believers, an orthodox sect with carefully preserved traditions from the 17th century.

Days 6-8
Mongolia’s Grasslands

Crossing Mongolia’s exquisitely beautiful grasslands, we visit nomad camps, try our hand at Mongolian horseback riding, visit Amarbayasgalant Monastery, and enjoy brilliant sunrises and vistas stretching to infinity from our comfortable ger camps.

Days 9-14
Ulaanbaatar / Gobi Desert / Flaming Cliffs

After exploring Ulaanbaatar’s fascinating museums, we fly to the Gobi, where we hike in the Yol Valley and at the Flaming Cliffs, explore the petroglyphs of the Havtsgait Valley, and ride Bactrian camels at the Moltsog Els sand dunes. Depart on Day 14 via Ulaanbaatar.

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), and eight nights in ger camps (two-person yurt-style tents with beds, small stoves for heat, and shared toilet and shower facilities). 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



Jul 24-Aug 3, 2015
Aug 14-24, 2015

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$7795 (11-14 members)
$8195 (8-10 members)
$8495 (6-7 members)
Single supplement: $915
Forced single supplement: $715
Internal airfare: $495 (subject to change)
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels and ger camps
  • All meals included except 1 dinner
  • Land transportation, airport transfers, and sightseeing as noted

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders, staff, and ger camps, any additional hotel nights that may be needed due to your international travel schedule, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

More than 90 days prior to departure: None
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Internal Airfare Payment, Change, and Cancellation Fee Schedule:* Payment for Internal Air will be collected from each trip member approximately three to six months (or even more) prior to departure, depending on flight availability and seasonal ticketing deadlines. Once issued, internal air tickets are subject to a $100 per person fee for any changes or cancellation until 60 days prior to the trip. Within 60 days of the trip, all tickets are non-refundable. The name on your tickets must match your passport exactly, and any name changes are subject to these same fees. We therefore request that you send us a scanned copy of your passport photo page immediately upon reserving your trip. Internal Air payments and cancellation fees are in addition to Trip Cost payments and cancellation fees as noted above.

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

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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Nikita Guesthouse

Nikita Guesthouse

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

The Nikita Guesthouse is set right on the coast of Olkhon Island, which gives it fantastic views of Lake Baikal and the surrounding mountains. There ...
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Day 4 (1 night), Ust-Barguzin, Russia

Our accommodation in the village of Ust-Barguzin is a simple private home. 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 8 (3 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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Ulaanbaatar Hotel

Day 9 (1 night),
Days 12 to 13 (2 nights), Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

In Ulaanbaatar we stay at one of the following properties:

Three Camel Lodge

Three Camel Lodge

Days 10 to 11 (2 nights), The Gobi Desert, Mongolia

This premier expedition camp of 20 gers, set in a peaceful hillside spot in the Gobi Desert, offers great comfort and is strategically close to ...
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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.

Optional Extensions

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


hovsgol lake mongolia

Lake Hovsgol Extension

Exploring Mongolia’s “Dark Blue Pearl”

Cultural Adventures, Walking
5 days  -  Level 2