Seattle, WA - 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 to witness Bronze Age petroglyphs of Sagan-Zaba, a Baikal horse ranch, and the 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.”
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 “Siberian Winter Escapade” tour is slated for February 21 – February 28, 2015 and starts at $4,695. To speak with a MIR Corporation travel specialist, call 800-424-7289.