Off the beaten path along the Baikal–Amur Mainline
Irkutsk – Bratsk – Chara – Severobaikalsk
Regular monthly departures: this tour is offered regularly once a month from June to September. Let us know your desired departure month by clicking on the ask-us button below and we will match your preferences with the relevant scheduled group departure. If you are unsure about the month you wish to travel in, 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 friends and there are 5 or more of you, you can set your own dates and we will organise a tour just for you without charging any additional fee. If you are travelling solo or with less than 4 companions we will organise a slightly more expensive tailored tour according to your time schedule and specific geographical 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.
Irkutsk sightseeing and boat ride along the mighty Angara River.
Traditional Siberian lunch.
Chillout afternoon either to enjoy a short boat ride along the river or simply to sip hot tea cups straight from the samovar in one of the town's many cafés.
Dinner and overnight in Irkutsk.
DAY 2 - Angara River
In the morning we'll transfer to the river port of Balagansk board a Soviet vessel and travel along the Angara up north to Bratsk, a major transportation hub along the Baikal-Amur mainline.
During the 7-to-8-hour ride you will enjoy the languid and romantic atmospheres of this sleepy corner of Russia and see abandoned villages and hamlets inhabited by old and nostalgic dwellers, whose lifeline is represented by the Angara itself.
In the afternoon we'll reach Bratsk and enjoy a short walking tour around the Soviet downtown.
Dinner and overnight in Bratsk.
DAY 3 - Bratsk
We’ll spend the day touring Bratsk and its surroundings particularly focussing on the impressive Soviet engineering heritage of the area (i.e. the colossal Bratsk Dam) and its less fancy ecological and cultural consequences (i.e. the dying impoverished hamlets of the upper Angara).
In the evening we’ll board a night train to Severobaikalsk and start our railroad adventure along the BAM, a strategic alternative route to the Trans-Siberian Railway crossing the untamed wilderness of Eastern Siberia.
Dinner and overnight on the train.
DAY 4/5 - Severobaikalsk
In the morning we’ll reach Severobaikalsk, the main urban settlement on the northern shore of the legendary Baikal Lake.
During our time in the area we’ll travel along the shoreline of the Baikal and enjoy the many natural wonders and stunning views of this little-visited area of the lake.
Here up north we’ll have also the chance to spot the unique and relatively rare Baikal seals, a species of freshwater earless seal endemic to the Baikal and the arguably the most isolated population of seals on the planet.
In the evenings, for those up to a true Soviet holiday experience, we will have the chance to plunge in the hot springs at Goudzhekit, just 30-minute drive west of Severobaikalsk.
We’ll spend one night in Severobaikalsk and then - in the evening of our fifth tour day - we’ll board a night train to Novaya Chara, our next stop along the BAM.
DAY 6/7 - Chara Sands and Kodar Range
In the morning we’ll reach Novaya Chara, a remote Soviet settlement founded ad hoc during the construction of the line and the main basis and starting point for trekking routes to the Kodar Mountains, as well as the Chara Sands, a 37 square kilometers area of majestic and surreal sand dunes northwest of the settlement.
We’ll spend two full days in the area basing ourselves in the village of Chara, also known as Old Chara to differentiate it from Novaya Chara, and exploring the stunning pristine landscapes of this isolated and rarely visited region of impervious green mountains and miniature red deserts.
Dinners and overnights in Old Chara.
DAY 8 - Tynda
In the morning we’ll board a rickety Soviet train to Tynda, a rather desolate urban construct informally referred to as the capital of the Baikal-Amur Mainline and notorious for harbouring a secretive community of North Korean loggers living in a dire condition of modern slavery.
We’ll spend the entire day on the train: a ride on a Soviet-era train in Siberia is, however, a destination of its own: we'll travel in the company of local merchants, commuters, farmers and holiday-goers and at the end of the trip you'll feel like you've known each other for ages; each carriage is like a big family moving on rusty tracks: we'll share food, stories, vodka and laughs, while the crumbling hamlets and dark forests of Eastern Siberia will roll past out of the window.
Late in the night we'll finally reach Tynda and quickly transfer to our hotel for the night.
Lunch and dinner on the train; overnight in Tynda.
DAY 9/10 - BAM
We’ll spend the morning touring Tynda and its surroundings particularly focussing on the history and heritage of the BAM.
After lunch we’ll pay a visit to the local museum, in which, alas only in Russian, the heroic construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline is detailedly narrated through a rich display of pictures, videos, artefacts and documents.
In the late afternoon we’ll board yet another Soviet train for a 36-hour ride to Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a large and history-rich town on the eastern end of the BAM.
Meals and overnights on the train.
DAY 11 - Komsomolsk
Early morning arrival in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, transfer to our hotel and chillout morning at the hotel spa.
Slow-pace day devoted to the last destination of our tour: Soviet sightseeing, souvenir shopping and vodka tasting.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Komsomolsk.
DAY 12 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Siberian-style breakfast together we'll take care of your transfer to the airport/train station of choice.
For those flying out: we will arrange transfer to either Komsomolsk Regional Airport or Khabarovsk International Airport.
For those wishing to take the bus/train to reach further destinations: we will arrange transport to the local bus/train station.
For those wishing to continue the journey onto Sakhalin: we will transfer to Vanino on the Soviet Pacific and take the ferry across the Ocean to Kholmsk on Sakhalin.
End of the tour.
4 to 9 participants: 4200 €
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 20 euro/night), private transport in the region (jeep or minivan), ferry ticket from Balagansk to Bratsk, first-class train ticket for the BAM, 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, meals, 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.
where the heck am i travelling to?
BELOW you can see the different tour stages marked on a map of the region you are going to explore with us
POSSIBLE TOUR COMBINATIONS FOR THIS ITINERARY INCLUDE