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Shamanism & Sacred Sites on Baikal

6 days and 5 nights

  • Schedule

    Tour can be started on any day
  • Route

    Irkutsk - Ust-Orda - Olkhon - Irkutsk
  • Languages

    English-speaking guide is guaranteed. Other languages are on request.
  • Accommodation

    The following hotel options are available:
    3 stars - tourist camp
  • PRIVATE TOUR

    This is a private tour, there won't be other people in your group
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Itinerary

Shamanism is one of the world´s most ancient religions. Central and northern Asia have been a Shamanistic land from times immemorial. The Buryats, the indigenous people of the Baikal area, have lived in this area and practiced the religion for thousands of years. Although the rites and rituals are centuries old, the Buryats from Lake Baikal still visit shamans to solve their health problems and major life issues.

The Island of Olkhon on Lake Baikal, which is the main travel destination of our tour itinerary, is traditionally considered to be one of the few strongholds of Shamanism in Siberia.

Day 1

Arrival in Irkutsk
Meeting and assistance at the airport. A brief city tour will be followed by a transfer (3hrs) to the Ust-Orda settlement (the center of the Buryat Autonomous District). Upon arrival in Ust-Orda, we will have a guided visit to the Buryat Ethnography Museum followed by a lunch of Buryat national cuisine.

We will then transfer to the settlement of Yelantsy (2 hour drive) where we will meet with a local practicing Shaman. The Shaman, Valentin Khagdaev has achieved the 5th degree in the shaman´s hierarchy of Khesete-boo divination techniques. He will join the group for a short trip to the local sacred site of ancestors and together with him we will proceed to picturesque Aya Bay on Lake Baikal noted for its ancient rock-drawings (2500 years old) depicting animals and shamans. After dinner you will have a chance to see a special rite of purification and worship of the ancestor spirits, which is performed by the Shaman.
The overnight in tents will give you a chance to experience the positive energy of Lake Baikal.
(Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 2

After breakfast, we will visit Narin-Yalga mountain, famous for its ancient rock-drawings and its rock-altar which shamans use for sacrifices. Our next destination is the Yerd mountain where in 2000, the ancient all-Buryat tradition of the Yerd Games was reestablished. Nearly half of Yerd Mountain is said to be composed of stones brought here by people to build "shaman´s stairs." In the past, during the Yerd Games, the most powerful shamans would sit near the top of the mountain, the greater the shaman´s power, the higher step of the stairs he occupied. The Yerd Games used to be the greatest ritual holiday for Buryats-Shamanists bringing together thousands of people from various tribes including shamans. The festival culminated in the performance of the Yohor Dance, which would not begin until the number of people standing around the mountain was enough to enclose the mountain in a circle.

We will then go on to visit one more mountain today - the sacred Murtyl-Khada. From the mountain´s top you will have an outstanding view of the lake and the valley of the Anga River. On the mountain top there is an ancient fireplace where during holy shaman festivals, large fires were lit. We will then lunch at a cafeteria in the settlement of Yelantsy. After this, we proceed to a ferry station (45 km drive) for a ferry ride across the Olkhon Gates Strait to Olkhon Island - the largest island on the lake and its sacred center. We will go by van to Khuzhir - the largest settlement on the island. Accommodation at the hostel (tourist camp).
Dinner and overnight
(Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 3

After breakfast we will visit the local Ethnographic Museum where the guide will recount legends about this mystical island. The museum contains an interesting collection of exhibits, including battle breast plates once belonging to the legendary warriors of Genghis-Khan.

We will then have a walking excursion to the Cape of Burkhan to see the Shaman Crag - highly worshipped by both shamanists and Buddhists. In the past, the Crag´s cave was a place for rites and shamanistic rituals. Later, it became a Buddhist Alter, which was regularly visited by lamas from all 34 Buddhist Datsans of the Trans Baikal area. The Crag is considered one of the 9 sanctuaries of Asia and was once called the Temple of Rock. Shamans believe it to be the residence of their major deity - Khan Khute-baabay, who descended from heaven to earth to rule human destinies. At the foot of the Crag, there is a mysterious rock drawing and an inscription in Sanskrit.
Lunch back at the tourist camp. Free time. Dinner and overnight in the camp
(Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 4

After Breakfast we go to the Khoboy Cape located on the Northern part of the island. The cape is located near the widest part of the lake (79.8 km). On the cape there is a special site (a small platform) that was used for carrying out the tailagan - gatherings of shamans. From the cape visitors can often see Baikal nerpas - fresh-water seals, the lake´s only aquatic animals.

On the way to the cape, we will drive through the Sand Tract (20 km north of the Khuzhir Settlement) famous for its sand dunes that stretch 3 km. After visiting the cape, we will have a picnic on the shore and then return to camp.

Upon request, we will organize a meeting with a local "white" Shaman who conducts the right of purification and communication with deceased relatives (optional). Shamanism is the oldest spiritual path on earth. It centers on healing, maintaining the balance and harmony in society and the individual and keeping in contact with Mother Earth and nature. A shaman knows that all things alive still walk with one foot in the spirit world.
Overnight
(Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

Day 5

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Irkutsk with a short stop near a sacred obo to do a symbolic offering and to say farewell to the land of shamans. An obî is considered to be the residence of ezhins - guardian spirits relating to nature and forefathers. Shamans used them as allies. Upon arrival in Irkutsk - you will be taken for check in at the hotel. You will have free time to explore the city on your own.
Overnight at the hotel
(Breakfast included)

Day 6

Breakast. Transfer to the airport or station
(Breakfast included)

Prices and Terms

All seasons

  hotel 3 stars
1 $2934
2 $1641
3 - 5 $1367
6 - 9 $1055
10-15 $1016
single supplement $316

Notes:

  1. Overall route length – 800 km.
  2. The sequence of points on the itinerary may be altered according to the weather and V.Khagdayev’s schedule, the quality of the programme, number and prominence of the visited sights remaining the same. The tourists will be informed of all the changes beforehand.
  3. The all-weather cars we provide are reliable and operated by professional drivers.
  4. Each of the cars is designed to carry 4-5 participants.
  5. No special training required. Only one overnight to be spent in tents and sleeping bags.
  6. Meals are cooked over campfire or on gas stoves.
  7. Climate conditions: Occasional rains and low temperatures at night are possible. Due to the changeable weather the tour itinerary may be slightly altered.
  8. It is required that customers have waterproof raincoats and warm clothes.
  9. You may customize the tour and make an additional tour to St. Petersburg or Moscow. The price of this will be listed separately.
  10. Moscow-Irkutsk and Irkutsk-Moscow plane tickets are not included in the cost of the tour. They are provided upon request for each group individually.
  11. Please, note that hotel check in 12:00. In case of early arrival, guests may have to wait at reception until check in time.
  12. You may adjust the program and add a few days as an optional tour which is not included in the main tour cost.

Tour price includes:

  • Transfers on arrival and departure
  • Ground and water transportation as described in the itinerary (on the transfer from Olkhon to Irkutsk: for groups of 3-5 persons there will be scheduled tourist bus, for groups over 6 persons – private minibus)
  • All accommodations based on double occupancy as described in the itinerary
  • All meals described
  • Rent of tents and camping gear
  • All excursions, entrance fees, and visits as described in itinerary
  • Bilingual local guides throughout your stay (English-Russian; other languages are provided for extra charge upon advanced request)
  • Shaman services

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