The thought of Siberia tends to conjure images of punishment, exile, and vast expanses of nothingness – of a place of no return. But, in fact, Siberia is a wild and wooded country of inconceivable beauty. MIR Corporation’s 8-day “Siberian Winter Escapade” tour is perfect for the adventurous traveler who’s seen it all. On UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, race teams of sled dogs, ice-fish and sweep across the lake by hovercraft. In Ust-Ordynski, discover one of Siberia’s Buddhist monasteries. Participate in a sunrise shaman ceremony at Olkhon Island’s best-known spot, Shaman Rock. And dine in the home of an indigenous Buryat family on Olkhon. For more information on tours to Siberia, visit MIR Corporation at http://www.mircorp.com/siberia.asp.
“Running dogsleds, riding snowmobiles, fishing through the ice, and steaming in a traditional Russian banya on Lake Baikal make up an epic experience,” said MIR Corporation founder Douglas Grimes. “Guests sweep over the ice on an extraordinary expedition to the Bronze Age petroglyphs of Sagan-Zaba, an unusual Baikal horse ranch, and finally, sacred Olkhon Island.”
In Irkutsk, the nearest big city to Lake Baikal, extravagant ice sculptures rise from the main square. Climb to a church bell tower and enjoy a concert of chimes rung by a Russian master bell ringer. Inspect the ice-breaker Angara, docked here after its career ferrying passengers and cargo across Lake Baikal came to an end.
“Irkutsk is a fun city with beautiful rebuilt churches and areas of grand 19th-century architecture,” said Grimes. “Irkutsk dispatched Siberian furs and ivory to Mongolia, Tibet and China in exchange for silk and tea and most of the city burnt down in the catastrophic fire of 1879.”
Another highlight of the tour is the secluded Olkhon Island, where the indigenous Buryat people believe the gods of Baikal once lived. Drive to the northern tip for a winter picnic in a sheltered bay, sampling Baikal fish soup, made on the spot. Rise early for a sunrise shamanistic ceremony at mysterious Shaman Rock. On the way back to Irkutsk, pay a visit to a tiny Buddhist monastery to learn about how Tibetan Buddhism spread so far north. Then raise a vodka toast to the four corners of the wind, in true Buryat fashion.
The February 22 – March 1, 2014 “Siberian Winter Escapade” tour starts at $4,995. To speak with a MIR Corporation travel specialist, call 800-424-7289.
About MIR Corporation
MIR Corporation, whose name means “peace” and “world” in Russian, has specialized in Russia (and neighboring countries) since 1986. Offering scheduled and custom journeys to Russia, along the Trans-Siberian and across the Silk Route, MIR’s Seattle-based experts design imaginative trips that take travelers far from the familiar, and work closely with local affiliates in Western Russia, Siberia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to carry them out. MIR has twice been named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth,” and is a preferred operator for museum, alumni and special interest organizations across the country.