SHAMANISM, throat singing, HORSE CULTURE AND TAIGA NUTS
Abakan – Kyzyl – Chadan – Erzin – Arzhaan
Regular monthly departures: this tour is offered regularly once a month from May 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.
The following itinerary refers to our most popular culture-focussed route in Tuva. The best time to travel along this route is during Naadym, a national festivity during which all Tuva traditional arts are on display. In case you are interested in a particularly remote area, secretive ethnicity, unusual activity and/or off-the-beaten-path attraction within the Autonomous Republic of Tuva (such as remote Todzha) or if you are just looking for an hit-and-run visit to Kyzyl and its surroundings, we can easily meet your needs with a unique tour individually designed according to your preferences. Thanks to our deep knowledge of the territory and longstanding collaboration with independent local guides we are able to offer you a wide range of tailored routes and bespoke itineraries across and beyond the perennial forests and windswept steppes of Tuva. We also regularly cater for biologists, conservationists, ethnologists, historians and documentarists alike interested in conducting field research in the region. Get in touch for more info on our private tours to Tuva!
DAY 1 - Abakan
Our tour guide will meet you either at Abakan Regional Airport or at Abakan Central Railway Station (exact meeting time will be communicated well in advance per email in accordance to your flight/train schedule).
Introductory briefing about the region, the route and the set of rules to observe while travelling in Tuva.
We will devote the whole day to a Abakan, a lively, sunny and leafy Soviet city built on the banks of the namesake river.
Abakan is also the capital of the Republic of Khakassia, a turkic-speaking autonomous region of Siberia with a fascinating culture of horse riding, shamanic rituals and nomadic poetry.
Lunch, dinner and overnight in Abakan.
DAY 2 - Arzhaan
In the morning we'll leave Abakan and head down south to Tuva, an almost mythical land squeezed between Mongolia and Southern Siberia and inhabited by the Turkic-mongolic Tuvan people.
A quick stop to buy Taiga-nuts from local roadside sellers and take some pictures of the white-dragon monument marking the entrance into Tuvan territory and then we'll continue straight to the Siberian Deer Farm, located in a beautiful mountainous area north of Kyzyl the capital of Tuva.
We'll then visit the traditional village of Arzhaan, located in the Great Kings Valley, a unique place transversed by the white waters of the Uyuk River and home to several Scythian archeological sites.
The Soviet-era excavations showed burials filled with rich grave goods including horses and gold artefacts; the total number of kurgans is unknown but it surely amounts to several hundreds: the most famous of them is Arzhaan-2 representing a world sensational discovery: excavated in 2001, it contains an untouched Scythian tomb with a stunning collection of golden items.
After the excursion to the Valley we will head to a traditional Soviet-style camp.
Dinner and overnight in the camp.
DAY 3/4 - Southern Tuva
After breakfast we will drive to the Tuvan Deep South, a land of sand dunes, endless steppes and Soviet cowboys.
We'll make our base in the Soviet end-of-the-world outpost of Erzin and devote two entire days to the region.
Highlight of our southern vibes will include Dus-Xol, a pinkish Salt Lake where Tuvans like to plunge in virtue of its alleged medicinal properties, the taiga-surrounded Durgen Canyon, the camel-shaped Teve-Khaya Mountain and the Tsugeer Els sand dunes.
During your time in the area you'll have the unique chance to meet with Tuvan nomadic camel herders and horse breeders, who will share with you their food, their home and the mystic secrets of their endangered culture; just to underline it: when we say camels we mean the real ones (huge hairy beasts with two-humps) and not the erroneously-camel-labelled dromedaries!
If you are fit enough you can also prolong your stay in the valley and undertake the challenging but extremely horse ride into Mongolia; please contact us to learn more about this option.
Dinner and overnight in Erzin.
DAY 5/6 - Naadym
Early in the morning we'll drive to the capital Kyzyl, a pleasant Soviet little town with a unique Mongol flavour: Buddhist temples, socialist monuments and architectures, shaman houses, interesting museums and exotic bazaars.
The program of these two days will vary depending on whether you are going to travel to Tuva during Naadym (august) or outside the festivity period.
The festival program usually includes: concert of Tuvan throat singers, animal exhibition, handicraft workshops, horse races, archery competition, folkloristic parade, wrestling sessions and the best-yurt contest among nomad representatives from the 17 provinces of Tuva.
Even if you do not travel to Tuva during Naadym you will still have the opportunity to witness khuresh (wrestling) and khoomei (throat-singing) performances: a truly mesmerising spectacle of ancient traditions and mystic rituals.
Dinner and overnight in Kyzyl.
DAY 7 - Western Tuva
We'll leave the capital early in the morning and head to the Wild West of the Republic.
First stop will be Chadan, a traditional Tuvan town renowned for its peculiar horse culture.
After lunch we'll continue our bumpy ride across Tuva's stunning landscapes to finally reach Ak-Dovurak, a surreal Socialist urban construct: Soviet apartment blocks, communist statues and buddhist stupas lost in the steppes.
Dinner and overnight in Ak-Dovurak.
DAY 8 - Mountain Roads and Taiga Hamlets
We'll drive north on the scenic A161, a remote mountain road connecting Tuva to the nearby Republic of Khakassia.
Besides the routine pauses for food, toilet and random landscape pictures, we'll break the 6-hour drive stopping at the Sayansky Point, one of the highest mountain pass in the whole former Soviet Union, and in Abaza, a traditional Khakass town surrounded by beautiful Taiga-covered valley.
We'll then proceed towards Askiz, a relatively small Khakass village built along the shores of the Abakan river.
Dinner and overnight in Askiz.
DAY 9 - Sushensky Park and Abakan
In the morning we'll drive across the Shushensky National Park, a remote reserve of extraordinary natural beauty, and tour the nearby city of Shushenskoe, where we'll enjoy a guided visit to the small wooden house where Lenin was exiled during the Tsarist persecutions.
After lunch we'll eventually reach Abakan: free afternoon in town.
Dinner and overnight in Abakan.
DAY 10 - Flight back home or transfer to further destinations
After enjoying a last Khakass-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 Abakan International Airport for your flight back home.
For those wishing to take the train/bus to reach further destinations: we will arrange transport to the local train/bus station.
End of the tour.
4 to 9 participants: 1950 €
The price includes: double/twin room accommodation (breakfast included; single supplement: 18 euro/night), private transport in the region, 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