Buryatia in Winter

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This trip can be combined with a tour of the western shore of Baikal (Irkutsk). From Irkutsk, the famous Trans Siberian train heads south around the lake. Travelling by train is an excellent way to discover the landscape. You can also arrive from Ulan-Ude after a direct flight from Moscow. If you are on Olkhon Island, you can reach Buryatia Republic by crossing the frozen lake.

On the Buryat coast, there are few hotels because there is little tourism here, especially in winter. The absence of this industry means that sometimes the only accommodation option is to stay with local host families. This is particularly true of the village of Ust-Barguzin. Siberians are famous for their hospitality: you will be offered the best room in the house; the banya will be prepared for you; dinner will be homemade from omul and berry preserves from the taiga with tea and, of course, stories of trapping and fishing.

From Ust-Barguzin, the road reaches one of the most beautiful gulfs of Baikal: Chivrykuysky. In summer, you can swim in the warm waters of the isolated bay, and in winter, you can visit one of the fishermen that live on the ice in yurts.

Not far from Ulan-Ude, towards Mongolia and China, you can visit a Buddhist centre near an Old Faith village. Here, in Nadeino, you will sample traditional food prepared by Evdokia based on the recipes of her ancestors. She will also teach you about how people of the Old Faith would live.

Take a trip into the steppe and the taiga on the eastern shore to discover the landscapes and meet locals (Siberian fishermen and hunters, Buddhist monks and farmers - old believers).

Visual guide to this trip

Itinerary

Arrival in Ulan-Ude by Trans Siberian or plane. Meal in a Buryat restaurant (lunch or dinner). Departure for Ust-Barguzin (270 km, 4h journey) on the shore of Lake Baikal. The road was recently renovated. It will bring you to the lake into the village of Gremyachinshk then along the shore following the mountain slopes. From here, there are magnificent views of the peninsula called “Sacred Nose” (“Svyatoy Nos” in Russian). Night with a local host family.

  • Lunch and dinner are included.

Breakfast. 4x4 excursion to the Chivrykuysky Gulf where you will visit the Zmeinaya Bay with its natural hot springs. Local fishermen camp here in Mongolian yurts heated by woodburners. You will get to meet these men and discover their way of life. Then, you will head out to explore the small islands of the gulf and their caves. Return to Ust-Barguzin. Dinner and night with a local family.

Expedition by 4X4 in the Barguzin Gulf to try your hand at ice-fishing. All equipment is provided. Using an auger, you will drill a hole and, with epischura as bait, try to catch some omul. The latter is a delicious fish that is endemic to Baikal. Return to Ust-Barguzin. Lunch in the village. Private minibus transfer to Ulan-Ude (230 km, 4h journey). Several stops are planned to admire the landscapes of the Buryat region. Arrival in Ulan-Ude. Dinner. Night at the hotel.

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Wrapped up in wool or reindeer skin, you will head out in a sled to the shore where you will have picnic with a warm fire on the edge of the forest and ice prairies.

  • 3-4 hours

The inhabitants of Siberia traditionally hunt sable for its precious fur. In the olden days, these furs would even be sold in European markets, like the Leipzig Fair.

  • 4-5 hours

The Barguzinskaya Valley is a 270-km long trough along the northeastern shore of Baikal, deep in Buryat territory. The Barguzin River, third largest affluent of Baikal, crosses this valley.

  • 6-7 hours

Breakfast. Meet your driver and English-speaking guide. Minivan to Ivolginsk to visit the datsan, which is the largest buddhist temple in the Republic of Buryatia. It is located 25 km to the southeast of Ulan-Ude near the Ivolga River. Departure to the Old Faith village, Nadeino. Warm reception by local Evdokia and the community of old believers at her house. She will tell you stories about her family and their origins while guiding you through her village. Festive lunch at Evdokia’s house to finish the trip. Return to Ulan-Ude (50 km, 1 hour journey). Visit of the town. Dinner in a cafe. Transfer to the train station. Departure for Irkutsk on the Trans Siberian night train.

Transfer to the airport of Ulan-Ude. Departure to Moscow.

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