Saturday 08 Auckland – Hong Kong
Depart Auckland late evening from Auckland on Air New Zealand.
Sunday 09 Hong Kong - Ulaanbaatar D
Arrive in Hong Kong early morning. Transit before your midday flight to Ulaanbaatar. We are met by our local guide.
A Mongolian dinner is included tonight.
Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, set in the rolling foothills of the Bogd Mountain range on the banks of the majestic Tuul River. Ulaanbaatar is the gateway to Mongolia and is situated at an altitude of 1,351 metres above sea level and has a population of approx. 1,318,100.
Monday 10 Chinggis – Genghis Khan Complex B L D
Morning visit to the world’s largest statue of a rider (Chinggsi Khaan) holding a golden whip. Stop injh Nalaikh town and visit the Kazakh family.
Tuesday 11 Naadam Festival B L D
This morning drive to Ulaanbaatar National Sports Stadium to experience the opening ceremony of the Naadam Festival and observe traditional Mongolian sports called ‘the three games of men’ - wrestling, horse racing and archery. Naadam or ‘games’ has occurred for centuries in Mongolia as a combat training of the Mongol WarriorIt is a colourful contest of horse racing (jockeys are generally ages 7-11 years and race 15-30 kilometres), wrestling (only men) and archery (men and women). In the evening an option to enjoy the Naadam Festival and Fireworks in Sukhbaatar Square.
Wednesday 12 Khustai National Park B L D
Drive to Khui Doloo Hudag to one of Naadam’s Major events – ‘Horse Racing’ and watch the five year old stallions race. After the horse racing, drive to Khustai National Park to search for the wild horses ‘Przewalski’ (Takhi), named after the Russian geographer and explorer Nikolay Przewalski who successfully re-introduced them into the wild. Experience our first night in a Ger.
Thursday 13 Elsen Tasarkhai and Sand Dunes B L D
After breakfast drive to Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes - a unique area combining forests, Gobi Desert sands and rocky mountains. After lunch at the Ger camp, visit a nomadic family to learn their traditions and daily life routines. Tonight we learn how to make Mongolian Dumplings. Accommodation at Ger Camp.
Friday 14 Old Capital Karakorum and Ugii B L D
After breakfast continue to Karakorum, the 13th century capital of the Mongol Empire and visit Erdene Zuu Monastery, once the largest in Mongolia. Tour the monastery grounds and visit several chapels and see examples of Buddhist iconography dating back to the 16th Century. After lunch, continue on to Lake Ugii for a two night stay.
Saturday 15 Ugii B L D
Ugii Lake – one of the largest and freshest lakes in Mongolia with 150 bird species and 14 of fish. Visit and learn the ways of local families followed by free time.
Sunday 16 Bayantal B L D
After breakfast return towards Ulaanbaatar for a stay in nearby Bayantal. Afternoon free before a local nomadic show. Learn how the community moves from place to place using oxen, yak, camels and horse carts. Dinner and accommodation at the Ger Camp tonight.
Monday 17 Ulaanbaatar B L D
Today visit the National History Museum and Gobi Cashmere factory with time to shop.
This evening enjoy a Mongolian Folklore Concert and a farewell dinner.
Tuesday 18 Ulaanbaatar – Irkutsk (Russia) B
Morning at leisure before transferring to the train station for an overnight journey on the “Trans Mongolian Railway in a two berth sleeper compartment. No singles available. Stop at Ulan-Ude for passport control.
Wednesday 19 Irkutsk - D
Arrival in Irkutsk, mid- afternoon (local time), transfer to your hotel, free afternoon.
Thursday 20 Irkutsk Sightseeing B L D
Visit the Lower Embankment, the historical part of the city and the so called 130-quarter, created for the celebration of Irkutsk 350 anniversary, featuring the old wooden buildings. Visit the Museum of Decembrists. Lunch in the city. Free afternoon.
In December 1825, a secret society of young officers staged an uprising in St Petersburg. The uprising, ill-conceived and badly led, was a disaster and more than 120 of the conspirators were exiled. They became known as the ‘Dekabristi’, the Decembrists. The Museum was opened in 1970 in the house of the family Trubetskoy. After 30 years’ in exile the Decembrists were granted amnesty. Only 19 of the 121 exiled survived and 16 returned to the Western part of the country.
Friday 21 Day excursion to Listvyanka B L D
Listvyanka is a small village located 60 km South-East of Irkutsk, on the shore of Baikal Lake. On the way stop at the sacred Shaman Rock with a beautiful legend attached to it. Climb the observation platform at Cherskiy Peak which offers a breath-taking view of the lake and the Angara River. Visit the fish and souvenir markets. Lunch will be in a local restaurant featuring Siberian cuisine and a Baikal delicacy – the white fish ‘omul’.
Saturday 22 Full day Cruise on the Baikal Lake B L D
Embarkation on the hovercraft Barguzin for a cruise of the lake. During the cruise we will make three stops at picturesque places, take a walk through tunnels and over bridges, returning to the hotel for dinner and make a late transfer to the airport for the flight to Yakutsk.
Sunday 23 Yakutsk B L D
Arrive in Yakutsk mid-morning, check into our hotel in time for breakfast.
This afternoon visit the local History Museum.
Yakutsk, the capital of the Russian Republic of Yakutia, a territory of three million sq km and approximately 300,000 people. 95% of the territory is permafrost and contains 10% of all the untouched landscapes in the world. Because of its remote location and extremely harsh climatic conditions it was known as the ‘Prison without Bars’.
Monday 24 Yakutsk, embarkation B L D
At noon we board M/S Mikhail Svetlov. After lunch continue sightseeing and visit the Permafrost Kingdom and Yakutian Family. Sail at 7pm.
Tuesday 25 The Lena Pillars B L D
The geological formations known as the Lena Pillars have been formed by the erosion of the rock cliffs alongside the river which has created delicate shapes of reddish-brown colours. The pillars reach over 150 metres high and extend along the river for more than 80km. After a greeting from the Sharman, we get an opportunity to climb the pillars.
Wednesday 26 Buotama River Mouth B L D
Today the ship is docked at the mouth of the Buotama River where 30 - 40 thousand years ago, primitive mammoth and bison hunters lived. In 2006 the first bison were imported from Canada and today there are around 90 bison left in Russia’s only bison park that covers 100 hectares.
Thursday 27 Cruising the Lena B L D
The cruise will proceed through the central Yakut lowland where the expansive landscapes open in front of us. We will see breath-taking views of the Verkhoyansk Mountains. The river widens as we sail and pass hundreds of kilometres of uninhabited lands.
The Lena is one of the 10 greatest rivers in the world flowing 4,400km into the Laptev Sea and Arctic Ocean. The river spans about 15km in its middle reaches while at the lower reaches it spans 25km. The Lena River Delta, some 400km across lands itself in the Guinness Book of Records in terms of size.
For seven months of the year, the river is bound by ice up to one metre thick and there are no dams, weirs or hydroelectric stations on the river.
Friday 28 Zhigansk B L D
Shortly after crossing the Arctic Circle, we will be landing by small ferry at Zhigansk, a small town with little over three thousand people. Enjoy visiting the local folklore show, the Ethnographic Museum and an Orthodox Church. Cruise on to Kyusyur.
Saturday 29 Kyusyur B L D
Visit the small settlement of Kyusyur in the far north, founded when the indigenous Evenk and Yakut people gave up there nomadic lifestyle and settled. The men are involved with reindeer breeding, fishing and hunting while the woman work in social and life-supporting areas. Extreme climates and strong winds have a great impact on the buildings and streets of the settlement. The history of Kyusyur and the surrounding area is connected with the tragic fate of tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people from Baltic states of the Soviet Union and from Central Yakutia who were deported under Stalin’s regime to work in fish factories in the far north. Thousands of them died under harsh climates, hard labour and primitive living conditions.
Sunday 30 Tiksi B L D
Tonight we sail up to Stolb (Pillar) Island, located at 72.5˚ north to enter the Lena River Delta. Weather permitting we will continue south through the Delta to the town of Tiksi, the gateway to the Republic of Yakutia. The port of Tiksi can only be navigated two and a half months of the year and in winter the sun doesn’t rise from 19 November until 21 January while in summer the sun never sets from the 11 May until 31 July. We will have the opportunity to tour the village and visit the museum which exhibits local art, paintings and the history of earlier explorers of the area.
Monday 31 Sailing Lena Delta and Lena ‘Pipe’ B L D
The river meanders as it passes through the Lena Delta and widens to 30km. The 106km long Bykov Channel connects Lena with the region’s principal sea port, Tiksi. Here the river is surrounded by Arctic tundra. After leaving the Delta we sail through so called ‘Lena Pipe’, where the river narrows to 2km or less and steep eerie cliffs hover over the dark waters as the boat sails through.
Tuesday 01 Siktyakh B L D
Siktyakh is a small village with about 300 inhabitants is on a picturesque high bank of the Lena River. The village was founded three centuries ago and the locals claim it was founded by Katarina the Great’s envoys collecting the so called ‘yasaks’ – tax paid in furs, from the indigenous people.
Wednesday 02 Polar Circle B L D
Today we cross the Polar Circle for the second time and leave the Arctic Area. We celebrate the occasion Russian-style with a vodka!
Thursday 03 Cruising back to Yakutsk B L D
Sail out of the vast waters of the Lena Delta beyond the Polar Circle and into a land of estuaries, rivers and islands and the Taiga forests.
Friday 04 The Green Stop B L D
The silence of the Green Staging Post offers passers-by a moment for peaceful reflection. Past archaeological expeditions have found the remains of ancient Eurasian populations including stone choppers and ancient working tools. Previously similar stone tools had only been found in Africa.
Saturday 05 Sottintsy B L D
Today, we make an excursion to the open air museum in Sottintsy, located at the site of the first fortified settlement founded by Russian Cossacks. The Museum is an excellent example of ancient wooden architecture in traditional Russian and Yakutian styles.
Sunday 06 Yakutsk B L D
After disembarking continue our tour of the city with visits to: Old Town, Treasury and Museum of Mammoth. Lunch at the hotel. Free afternoon.
Monday 07 Farewell to Yakutia-Khabarovsk B D
Early transfer to the airport for the flight to Khabarovsk (Far East Russia). Transfer to our hotel follolwed by sightseeing and lunch in town.
Tuesday 08 Khabarovsk Narita B
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Narita in Japan, followed by an Air NZ flight home.
Wednesday 09 Arrive Auckland
Itinerary subject to change