Tour “Journey to the Center of Asia” is a unique opportunity to see three regions of Russia: Krasnoyarsk region, Khakassia republic and the Tuvan republic. You will learn the life of steppe tribes, walk in the shoes (or rather boots) of nomads, re-connect with mother-nature, experience what it’s like to be a shaman, learn about the culture of old- believers and immerse yourself in the old Russian way of life.
On our way, you will see coniferous forests followed by the steppe with wind-washed semi-deserts making our way to rapid mountainous rivers and hot springs.
What will you see?
- The geographic center of Asia – city Kyzyl.
- Famous “Gold of the Scythians”
- National colors of Khakassia and Tuvinian yurt; Siberian village the way it existed for centuries.
- Petroglyphs and megaliths of more than 2000 years old
- Shamans rituals
What will you hear?
- History of three regions, interwoven with legends.
- Sounds of wildlife, amazing for big city dwellers.
What will you feel?
- The energy of shamanism and paganism
- Harmony and tranquillity of people following centuries-old canons.
This tour is aimed for those who are not afraid of long distance and loves dynamic vacation.
Group: 6-10 people.
Season: All months exept October and February
Length: 13 days / 12 nights.
Distance of the route: 2500 km +
Transfer is made by specially prepared SUV/ 4WD: GAZ-Sable and UAZ-Patriot. Cars are geared up for Siberia, taiga and challenging roads.
Medical conditions: Planning this trip, the tourist should take into account following factors:
- Long drives
- Part of the route goes at the altitude of 2000 m above sea level.
- Walking/ trekking is possible along the road.
People with health conditions are recommended to consult with the doctors.
Physical fit: no special sport fitness is required.
Children are allowed if they are above 12 y.o
PROGRAM OF THE TOUR:
Day 1. Meeting with Krasnoyarsk
Arrival in Krasnoyarsk. Transfer from airport to the hotel. Rest. The following additional excursion can be arranged (at extra-cost) before we start for our big road trip:
1. Krasnoyarsk city tour. Paraskeva Pyatnitsa Chapel (symbol of Krasnoyarsk depicted on 10 RUB note) with brief taking view of the city, monument dedicated to the founders of the city A.Dubensky, first steamship on Yenisei river “St. Nikolai” and other places revealing controversial but interesting story of one of the most remarkable Siberian cities.
2. “Stolby” natural reserve. “Stolby” is located just 30 min drive from city centre. Thanks to its unusual shape and structure it’s famous around Russia and abroad. You will see syenite rocks, for thousands of years being transformed by winds and precipitation into pieces of art. Many of them even have their own names: Grandfather, Grandma, Feathers and Chinese wall. Under the guidance of an experienced mountaineer, you can climb to the tops of some of these beautiful natural artworks and see the incredible panoramas of the taiga.
Day 2. Khakassia. Siberian Stonehenge, ancient barrows, petroglyphs
Transfer Krasnoyarsk – Khakassia. On our way we will witness coniferous forests and birch groves are being changed by steppe.
Boyarskaya petroglyphs, unique relic of Tagar archaeological culture 7-3 centuries
B.C. 170 petroglyphs made by so called “pointing technique” and depicting details of everyday life of that epoch: houses, hunters, archers, horse riders, etc.
Then we will visit so-called “places of power”: Salbyk valley and Big Salbyk tumulus dated to the 4-5 centuries B.C. Impressive square 70*70 meters surrounded by stone menhirs 6-7 meters tall and around 50 tons w. It is described as “Siberian Stonehenge” as also believed to be ancient observatory (you can see the paths of the Moon and the Sun) and temple. It is still a mystery how ancient people managed to transport such huge rocks from the riverside of Yenisey river. It is the biggest out of 56 tumuli in the “Valley of Tsars”.
Transfer to village Askiz, accommodation in the hotel. Traditional dinner of Khakassian cuisine.
Day 3. Museum – reserve “Kazanovka”
Visit to the archaeological museum-reserve “Kazanovka”, excursion around Khassian “aal” (settlement). You will learn why in Khakassian language there is no word for hay, how charm “tyosi” guards Khakassian family, will find out about the 9 stages of shaman’s life, will touch 4000 years old granite stone Akh Tas, which is believed to have curative power and will see shaman’s ritual “kamlanie”.
Accommodation in traditional Khakassian yurts. Dinner in “Kazanovka”. You will be able to taste exclusive national dishes such as sausages “kharty” and “khaima”, local cheese, etc. While having all that delicacies, you will hear Khakassian legends and myths.
Day 4. Safronovsky barrow – place of power for Siberian shamans
We will leave Kazanovka early in order to see sunrise in Safronovsky barrow. There, we will see stone megaliths with petroglyphs dated back to the 5 century B.C. Ancient people constructed around 50 menhirs with the petroglyphs of Owing to the richness of petroglyphs and their deep meaning, Safronovsky barrow is sometimes called the “Encyclopaedia of Siberian shamanism”.
It will be followed by excursion to Poltakovsy rock art open-air museum “Khaya Khoos”, where scientists collected the most interesting examples of ancient rock art of Khakassia. Transfer to the forest lodge “Snow leopard”.
Ceder wood houses with fire place, bio toilet. It is possible to order Russian sauna “banya”. This forest lodge also offers interesting trekking routes, from 1 hour to half a day and longer for those who wants to explore the forest with own feet (the order of trekking tour is possible only in advance).
Home cuisine from taiga delicacies of local preparation.
Day 5. Discovery of Tuva
Morning will start with photo-walk along picturesque Ona River, where it merges with the Big Anzas River. Ridges of Sayan mountains in background add to the impressive landscape.
We will start the way to mountain pass Ak-Dovurak, its peak is an official border between Khakassia and Tuva, stopping for a shaman ritual of blessing along the way. After Ak-Dovurak we leave taiga and go to the steppe part of Tuva.
First stop in Tuva will be the village Bizhigtik-Khaya, near which we will see a unique 1200 years old granite statue of the warrior Kizhi-Kozhae. At the Tuvan steppes and surrounds, there are about 200 such sculptures, originally used as objects of worship. The English explorer, Douglas Carruthers, noted that these stone figures were identical to “any colonel of the British Army, from the well combed, parted moustache, to the real military bearing”.
Transfer to Kyzyl-Dag, the village of hereditary stonemasons and blacksmiths, where we will be invited for workshops of masters and maybe will share in their little secrets.
Out of population of 800 people there are 40 members of Russian Union of artists. Unique stone agalmatolite or “soap stone” due to its special structure inspired many generations of stonemasons.
Accommodation in homestay in village Taeli. Traditional Tuvinian dinner to take you closer to Tuvinian culture.
Day 6. The main Buddhist monastery of Tuva and yurt complex
Transfer from Taeli village to the ethnographic complex Aldyn-Boolak. It is the complex made of traditional Tuvinian yurts surrounded by the hills and located on the curve of Ylug-Khem (translated as “Upper Yenisey”) river. Yurts are made in traditional Tuvinian style, where basis for yurts location is the model of Universe with the Sum and the planets depicted by yurts.
On our way, we will visit one of the largest and most famous Buddhist monasteries of Tuva Ustuu- Khuree in Chaadan town. Here the basis of the national alphabet was created, the first coin of the Tuva People's Republic was minted. Monastery Ustuu-Khuree was established in 1905, and shut down by Soviet government in 1930. Attempt to destroy the temple totally failed, as mud walls survived. Restoration of monastery required huge funding, in order to raise funds unique Festival of live music and faith “Ustuu-Khuree” was organized in 1999. It became so popular and much awaited by music lovers that continues even after necessary funds were raised and monastery was fully restored. Bright interior and decorations amaze the eyes, and peace and blessing obtained in this monastery stay with guests for a long time. Accommodation in Aldyn-Bulak complex. Dinner in Tuvinian style.
Day 7. Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva and geographical centre of Asia
The day will start with the excursion around Aldyn-Boolak. We will go through Heaven’s Gate of Shamballa, will learn why the Khans chose that place for their camp and will see the cult symbol “Ovaa Khoomeya”, golden arrow aiming to the sky.
Transfer to Kyzyl, capital of Tuva republic. National Museum featuring the famous “Gold of Scythians”, the discovery of which, in 2001, has changed theory about the history of Scythians.
Gold decorations made more than 10 centuries ago will still fascinate you with the intricacy of the patterns and accuracy of work.
Walk to the obelisk “Geographic center of Asia” at the point of merge Big Yenisei and Small Yenisei rivers. Sculpture group “Tsar hunting” by Dashi Namdakov won the prestigious award in Italy in 2013. His works can be found in the collections of museums in 25 countries, including the Hermitage and New York's "Tibet House". His sculptures are in private collections of the Russian president and Hollywood stars. The sculptural composition is a jewel of Hyde Park in London. Dashi Namdakov is one of the most demanded sculptors and artists of our time. Transfer to Sizym village, accommodation in the forest lodge.
Day 8. Introduction to the history, traditions, customs of old-believers
You will learn what is “sobor”, how old- believers find brides, how many scarves are supposed to be worn by married women and other interesting facts.
Walk along picturesque sides of the river Sizym. Workshop on making “valenki” (traditional boots made of felt). Experience a sunset walk to the Mountain of Love, which gives magnificent view on old-believers village. Follow with a Russian sauna, “banya” with taiga “venik” (branches of pine that are soaked in hot water and are used in banya for health). Traditional dinner with old-believers “kvas” (light alcoholic drink).
Day 9. Workshops and fishing
Take a picture of the beautiful sunrise before breakfast (optional).
Workshop on old-believers cuisine: Under careful guidance of experienced chef, you will learn how to bake taiga pies, the secret of horseradish spicy sauce and how to prepare the yeast out of potato.
Workshop on old-time craft – try your hand at weaving warm home mats.
For those who love fishing: in wintertime you can experience the workshop and have the opportunity to go ice fishing (subject to weather), in summer – you can take a speedboat ride up along Yenisei river through rapids and fishing in quiet backwaters.
In the afternoon, you will have horse riding around picturesque hills.
In the evening, we will hear tales from the master of herbs about taiga herbs and herbal medicine. You will learn about different herbal teas and how to make your own. In the evening have an herbal sauna (for those who want to try it out). Farewell dinner with old-believers’ home-made “cognac”.
Day 10. Transfer to national reserve Ergaki
Transfer Sizym – Kyzyl. In Kyzyl we will visit central market and will taste traditional milk delicacies of Tuva, such as unsalted cheese “byshtak”, dry cottage cheese “kurut” and even milk vodka “araka”.
Accommodation in the forest lodge.
Day 11. Village of artisans
Transfer to national reserve Ergaki. Picturesque mountain-taiga landscapes, granite peaks, river rapids, surrounded by emerald lakes, peaceful valleys created by glaciers millions of years ago.
Arrival in the village of artisans Petropavlovka. Immerse yourself in the creative culture, which you can feel in practically everything – from music, through construction of houses, to art and crafts.
Guests can choose to try a workshop on one of the following:
- Blacksmithing (in 40 minutes you will be able to forge your own axe!)
- Cloth weathering
In addition, you can not only listen to how to play the traditional Russian instruments and learn the basics of the game, but also make your own “gusli” (type of harp) or pipe. Under careful guidance of a master who creates musical instruments for 30 years. The process will take about 2 days. Master classes take place both in the workshop and outdoors, plunging into the traditional Russian way of life.
Overnight in homestay. Lunch and dinner is home-made in the peasant style.
Traditional Russian entertainments: horse carriage ride, workshops, fishing. In the evening it is possible to have Russian sauna “banya”. You can have a good rest from long road.
Transfer to Krasnoyarsk. The end of the tour.
For a confirmed booking, a deposit of (10%) is required. Deposit is paid by credit card (secure payment via Stripe, no credit card fees). The remaining balance can be paid in cash upon start of the trip - unless Host & Traveler agree on different payment methods.
Cancellations can be made free of charge up to 30 days prior to the beginning of the booked service. The deposit (10%) is only refundable if the booking is canceled at least 30 days in advance.