ETERNAL NATURE AND DISAPPEARING CULTURES
Irkutsk – Nizhneudinsk – AlYgdzher – Sayan Mountains
Summer-only departures: this tour is only offered in the summer season (June to September). Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the learn-more button below: we will match your preferences with the next relevant scheduled group departure. If you are still unsure about your desired departure date, then simply tell us a period or a season of the year and we will provide you a range of scheduled group departures: just pick up yours!
Our scheduled group departures don't suit your plans? If you are travelling with more than 4 friends, you can set your own departure date: we will arrange a bespoke tour just for you for the same price per person advertised below. If you are travelling solo or with less than four companions, we will then organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical preferences.preferences.
DAY 1 - Irkutsk
Our tour guide will meet you in the arrival hall of Irkutsk International Airport (exact meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email in accordance to your flight schedule).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in Siberia.
Soviet Irkutsk sightseeing and boat ride along the mighty Angara River.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Irkutsk.
DAY 2 - Nizhneudinsk
Free morning in Irkutsk and after an early lunch we will transfer to the quintessentially Soviet town of Nizhneudinsk.
We’ll arrive in Nizhneudinsk in the late afternoon and spend the last daylight hours touring the many Soviet remnants scattered around town: Stalinist architectures, war memorials and the de rigueur Lenin statue.
Dinner and overnight in Nizhneudinsk.
DAY 3 to DAY 12 - Tofalaria
In the morning we’ll visit the local market in Nizhneudinsk to buy some emergency food supplies and other essential goods we may need while in Tofalaria.
Around midday we’ll head for the local airport and board our Soviet-build Mil Mi-8 helicopter to the village of Alygdzher, the unofficial capital of Tofalaria.
Tofalaria is a magical land covered with impassible taiga: you can't take a train or a bus to reach Tofalaria, no roads, not even a dirt track. The wilderness is ancient and untarnished, mostly made up of dense forests, canyons and mountains. And yet, even here some humans have found their way in.
The Tofalars, the shy and gentle inhabitants of this gorgeous land, are an obscure Turkic ethnicity of uncertain origins. Little is known of Tofalar history before Russian contact. Some scholars say the Tofalars are descents of isolated Mongol tribes, whereas others trace back their roots to the Tungusic people of northern Siberia. Before the advent of the Stalinism, the Tofalars used to be nomadic hunters and reindeer herders, but they were then forcibly resettled by the Soviet government in the early 30s.
Truth to be told, the Tofalars benefited a lot from the highly efficient Soviet system: education, healthcare and housing were provided for free by the state and the life expectancy increased dramatically. On the other hand, cultural traditions such as hunting and shamanism were discouraged or even prohibited: some of them were then irremediably lost.
After the tragic fall of the Soviet Union, remote Tofalaria fell once again into oblivion: a long darkness of economic crisis and social despair, only sustainable tourism can now save the timorous Tofalars from.
We’ll spend the next ten days in Tofalaria, exploring its majestic nature and getting to know its secretive inhabitants.
Highlights of our stay in Tofalaria will include:
staggering natural sights such as at the Kinzelyuk Waterfalls (second highest in Russia) at the Gornoe Ozero (splendid alpine lake hidden high in the mountains).
the traditional Tofalar settlements of Alygdzher, Verkhnyaya Gutara and Nerkha.
experiencing the life of a Soviet ranger: fish and hunt your own meals, ride a motorboat along the Agul River and relax in a traditional homemade Siberian sauna.
daily hikes through the untamed wilderness of the Siberian Taiga and (only for the sporty ones) challenging treks across impervious mountain ridges.
Dinner and overnight in a traditional guesthouse.
DAY 13 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After a last Siberian-style breakfast together we'll say dasvidaniya to our Tofalar guide and begin our journey back home via Nizhneudinsk.
For those flying out: transfer to either Irkutsk International Airport or Krasnoyarsk International Airport for your flight back home.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: transfer to the local train/bus station.
End of the tour.
3 to 8 participants: 5650 € per person
The price includes: double/twin room and tent accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 20 euro/night), meals, camping gear, private transport in the region (jeep or minivan), helicopter transfer, entrance fees to the attractions listed in the itinerary, guiding and translation service.
The price does not include: international flights and any other flight not explicitly included in the tour price and itinerary, extra drinks and tips, visas if required, entrance fees to attractions not listed in the itinerary, insurance.
The route of this tour has been carefully designed after several research trips in the region. It is, however, always possible to slightly modify the itinerary according to the needs and the suggestions of the participants. Our motto is flexibility.