Siberia Explorer

Group Tour

16 Days From A$11,068

Overview

Vast and wild, Siberia is a land whose culture and landscapes have been forged by the energies of man and nature for millennia. One of the most sparsely populated places on earth, it extends from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east and is home to towering mountain ranges and sweeping grasslands, glacial rivers and desolate tundra.

This stunning Siberian adventure starts deep in the heart of the UNESCO Altai Mountains, close to the border with neighbouring Mongolia, ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

14 x Breakfasts
14 x Lunches
14 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use a Russian UAZ minibus, 4x4 cars, Russian military jeeps*, a train and a speedboat to enjoy Lake Baikal.

*Please note these are old military vehicles that are well worn and suited to the landscape. They are not built for comfort but will take you on a great adventure!

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

Contributions to carbon offset & tree planting projects for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Siberia Explorer
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN GORNO-ALTAYSK

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN GORNO-ALTAYSK

Starting amongst the foothills of the Altai Mountains this morning, this incredible journey begins along the banks of the meandering Katun River. Following a chance to freshen up this morning, we’ll meet for lunch before embarking on a tour of the capital of the Altai Republic. After taking in some of the highlights of this small city including the Anokhin Museum, home of the famous “Siberian Ice Maiden”, we then enjoy an early dinner at the home of a local felt master where we will also enjoy a traditional Kaichi concert, a master of throat-singing and Altai storytelling traditions.

Hotel Igman or similar
Lunch, Dinner

DAY 2: GORNO-ALTAYSK - KARAKOL VALLEY

DAY 2: GORNO-ALTAYSK - KARAKOL VALLEY

Departing Gorno-Altaysk we set off south down the stunning Chuysky Tract, considered to be one of the most beautiful roads in the world. As we head towards the sacred landscapes of the Karakol Valley, the drive takes us by way of the Seminsky Pass (1894m), which offers beautiful views of the surrounding area. Arriving for some lunch, we then begin a historical tour of the Karakol Valley, enjoying the valley’s revered kurgans (burial mounds), petroglyphs and other sacred sites.

Local Homestay or Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: KARAKOL VALLEY – CHUYA STEPPE

DAY 3: KARAKOL VALLEY – CHUYA STEPPE

Today’s drive takes us further south into the dry desert landscapes of the Chuya Steppe. The steppe is situated around 1800 metres above sea level and is surrounded from all sides by mountain ridges and home to antelopes, Pallas cat and the Corsac fox. Our long day’s drive across this dramatic landscape will be punctuated with plenty of interesting stops along the way, including the Kupchegen Folk Arts Centre and Kalbak Tash.

Yurt camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: CHUYA STEPPE - KYZYL-CHIN – KAMTYTUGEM VALLEY

DAY 4: CHUYA STEPPE - KYZYL-CHIN – KAMTYTUGEM VALLEY

Today we venture deep into the otherworldly landscapes of “Mars”, or to be more accurate the colourful mountainous terrain of Kyzyl-Chin. Translating from the Altai language as “Red Cliff”, this landscape is well named, with its multiple layers of yellow, white, orange and red, creating unique formations that date back over 90 million years. Here we can enjoy a good walk through the valley before continuing on to a remote horse farm, where we can see the process of mare's milking, try the traditional drink, koumiss, and take a look at the local way of life. From here we complete our journey for the day at our homestay in the heart of the Kamtytugem Valley.
Walking distance 2km

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: KAMTYTUGEM VALLEY

DAY 5: KAMTYTUGEM VALLEY

The adventure carries on in the Kamtytugem Valley, also known as the Shamans’ Valley, home to rare snow leopards and stories of scared ritual. For years shamans gathered amongst these serene landscapes to perform their ceremonies. Heading deeper into the valley this afternoon with our expert local guide, we can enjoy a beautiful walk to discover a small waterfall and even check some of the nearby camera traps that have been installed to capture the incredible wildlife of the area.
Walking distance 11.5km, 345 elevation gain, approx 6hrs.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: KAMTYTUGEM VALLEY – KURAI STEPPE

DAY 6: KAMTYTUGEM VALLEY – KURAI STEPPE

Leaving Kamtytugem Valley we will make our way to Kurai Steppe. Occupying the deep hollow basin of the encircling mountains, the Kurai’s remarkable rippled surface can trace its origins back to antiquity and the flooding of great glacial lakes. Situated around 1500 metres above sea level and home to polecats, wolves and foxes, our long day’s drive across this dramatic landscape will be punctuated with plenty of interesting stops along the way.

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: LITTLE AKTRU GLACIER

DAY 7: LITTLE AKTRU GLACIER

Following breakfast this morning we’ll set off on a true off-road adventure. Driving across grassland steppe in soviet-style jeeps, we will journey through dense alpine forests, traversing dry river beds and following the course of glacial streams towards the base of Little Aktru Glacier. Here we then continue on foot, walking deeper into this remote rocky valley where we will explore one of the region’s most beautiful and unspoiled hidden gems. We can enjoy a picnic lunch in our natural surroundings before slowly making our way back to our base for the night.
Total distance 7km with an elevation gain of 300m approx 4-5 hrs

Local Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: KURAI STEPPE - GORNO-ALTAYSK

DAY 8: KURAI STEPPE - GORNO-ALTAYSK

The midway point in our journey sees us driving back to Gorno-Altaysk today, to rest up and spend an evening back in the Altai Republic capital before we begin the next leg of this remarkable odyssey.

Hotel Igman or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: DRIVE TO NOVOSIBIRSK AND BOARD THE TRANS-SIBERIAN

DAY 9: DRIVE TO NOVOSIBIRSK AND BOARD THE TRANS-SIBERIAN

After an early breakfast we’ll drive north west to the city of Novosibirsk, located on the banks of the Ob River in southwestern Siberia. One of the main transport hubs between Siberia, Central Asia and European Russia, from here if there is time we will have an orientation tour around Novosibirsk before continuing our adventure aboard the famous Trans-Siberian Railway, boarding the train later this evening for the journey on to the historic city of Ulan-Ude.

Overnight train
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY: NOVOSIBIRSK – ULAN-UDE

DAY 10: TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY: NOVOSIBIRSK – ULAN-UDE

We spend today enjoying the passing Siberian vistas, as we are carried along the rails of one of the world’s most famous and iconic train journeys. Connecting Moscow with the far eastern fringes of the Russian Federation, the Trans-Siberian stretches for well over 9,000 kilometres. Considered the longest train line in the world, it passes through no fewer than nine time zones and is still the country’s most important transport link. Please note that there will only be a limited number of places that you can leave the train whilst travelling to Ulan-Ude.

Overnight train

DAY 11: ULAN-UDE

DAY 11: ULAN-UDE

After another day on board the train, we are due to arrive into Ulan-Ude late this afternoon where we will check into our hotel and have some time to relax after our long train journey.

Hotel Mergen Bator or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: ULAN-UDE - MAKSIMIKHA

DAY 12: ULAN-UDE - MAKSIMIKHA

After breakfast we’ll transfer to the village of Maksimikha located just outside of Ust Barguzin on the banks of the stunning Lake Baikal. Upon arrival we will set off on a speed boat excursion to the beautiful Ushkany Islands. Located along the eastern shores of the lake, this archipelago of four islands is home to a unique flora and fauna, including the Nerpa (Baikal seal) which we hope to see today.

Basic Guesthouse
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: MAKSIMIKHA - BARGUZIN VALLEY

DAY 13: MAKSIMIKHA - BARGUZIN VALLEY

In the company of our local guides we will travel up to Barguzin Valley where we’ll spend today exploring the breathtaking wilderness of this more remote area, away from the crowds of the busier western side of the lake. Fed by the waters of the Barguzin River, and hemmed in by the steep heights of the Barguzin Alps, the valley was once home to a tribe of Mongol nomads. Blessed with a rich bounty of mineral springs, expansive landscapes and the evidential remains of its Buryat settlers, we’ll enjoy lunch with a local family before travelling to our accommodation for the night which is located between the two mountain ranges of Barguzinsky and Ikatsky.

Basic Recreation Centre (Facilities outside)
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: BARGUZIN VALLEY - ULAN-UDE

DAY 14: BARGUZIN VALLEY - ULAN-UDE

We will leave behind the landscapes of Barguzin Valley and make our way back towards Ulan-Ude. Today will mainly be a driving day, but we will make some interesting stops along the way.

Hotel Mergen Bator or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15: ULAN-UDE

DAY 15: ULAN-UDE

Today we will pay a visit to the monastery of Ivolginsky Datsan, the site of what was once the only Buddhist spiritual centre anywhere in the old USSR. Built in the late 1940s, the complex today is a repository of Buryat art and Tibetan culture. After lunch, we will have a city tour of Ulan-Ude ending at Datsan Rinpoche Bagsha which will give you your final panoramic views of the city.

Hotel Mergen Bator or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 16: TOUR ENDS IN ULAN-UDE

DAY 16: TOUR ENDS IN ULAN-UDE

The tour ends after breakfast this morning.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Centre for Folk Arts and Crafts

In the village of Kupchegen you will visit the Centre for Folk Arts and Crafts. The centre was set up by local craftsmen with the aim to preserve and in some cases re-introduce folk traditions and craftmaking skills which were almost forgotten during the Soviet era. Local people have the opportunity to attend workshops and seminars on making traditional crafts so they can learn about their heritage and potentially generate an income stream. The workshops include saddlery, jewellery, bone-carving, felting, pottery and much more.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.

As the flights we suggest have such a long layover and you already have a Russian visa in your passport, you could head into the capital via the underground/or a taxi for a quick look around and some dinner before returning to the airport for your onward flight to Gorno-Altaysk. 
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
S7 4002 London Heathrow (LHR) 08:40 Domodedovo Airport (DME) 14:30
S7 2629 Domodedovo Airport (DME) 00:40 Gorno-Altaysk (RGK) 09:00
S7 3034 Ude, Russia (UUD) Airport (UUD) 09:25 Domodedovo Airport (DME) 10:50
S7 4003 Domodedovo Airport (DME) 16:05 London Heathrow (LHR) 18:00

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies.

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Russia.

It is mandatory in the UK to visit the visa application centre in person to apply for a Russian Visa.

Visas cannot be obtained directly from the Russian Embassy as the visa application process has been outsourced to Russia Visa Centre (UK) https://russia-visacentre.com/en/visa/united-kingdom/russia

The Russia Visa Centre (RVAC)have centres in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. Please refer to the RVAC Services website and our Pre-Departure Information for more details. 

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

We expect there will be a good number of dry and warm days but of course at altitude (approx. 2,150m), and being Siberia, the weather could turn at any time and we should be prepared for all conditions.  During the day these areas of Siberia can get hot and remain cool at night, especially in the drier parts of Altai, but you can also often experience four seasons in one day.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a good state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour. However please note that although this trip is not necessarily physically demanding by way of exertion, the remoteness and roughness of the journey can take its toll and should not be undertaken lightly.

Anyone who suffers from back or neck problems should consider that many of the roads we will be using are dirt tracks and can be bumpy, especially the journey up to Little Aktru Glacier when we truly go off-road. The Trans-Siberian train, although exciting, can also be bumpy, and so do not expect the most peaceful of sleeps!

People must be happy to share up to 5 people in a room for some of the nights due to limited accommodation in the more remote areas.  Please be advised that on this trip vegetarians can be catered for but the selection and variety may be limited.

It is best to be prepared that western toilets are unlikely to be found on this tour, you may have access to these in Gorno-Altaysk on arrival/departure but whilst on the road these will not be available.

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this tour we are able to offer an optional single supplement in Gorno Altaysk and Ulan Ude only, as the accommodation throughout the rest of the trip is basic and/or with limited rooms.       

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking. In addition, due to the particular nature of this trip, an interim deposit of £600 (or equivalent) per person will be required within 30 days of booking a guaranteed departure, or subsequently within 30 days of receiving confirmation from us that the trip has been guaranteed.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6934 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION