Creative Conveyances: Helicopters, Hovercraft, and Camels

Creative Conveyances: Helicopters, Hovercraft, and Camels

Have you ever…

Looking to add adventurous modes of transport to your next trip?  Check out these trips, in which getting there is actually part of the fun.

Taklamakan Desert on camelback

Taklamakan Desert on camelback
Photo credit: Paul Schwartz

Ride a Camel

Climb aboard a “ship of the desert” for a short foray into the forbidding Taklamakan Desert (loosely translated as “you can get in but you can’t get out”), and explore cultures on the edges of this great bowl-shaped wasteland in Western China. Follow in the footsteps of early explorers who made their way along the old Silk Road carrying silk, spices, tea, precious metals and jewels, carefully lashed to pack camels.

Or head to Mongolia to mount a two-humped Bactrian camel in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, or to Uzbekistan‘s Kyzyl Kum Desert, and ride, Sally, ride.

Enjoy these and other fascinating opportunities on the small group tours:


Pamir Highway vistas Photo credit: Jake Smith

The Pamir Highway disappears into the distance
Photo credit: Jake Smith

4-Wheel Over the Pamir Highway

Driving is a great way to see a country, especially if you’re trying to reach remote villages in Tajikistan.

Travel by 4WD vehicles along the Pamir Highway up and over the sheer passes of the majestic Tien Shan and Pamir Mountains on an overland trip through the remote ravines and secluded villages of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Western China.

Attend nomadic Kyrgyz horse games, browse the Kashgar Sunday Animal Market in Western China, and visit with villagers in the mountains of Tajikistan.

Find these exotic experiences on the small group tour:


Helicopters transport travelers to the backwaters of Kamchatka Peninsula Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Helicopters transport travelers to the backwaters of the Kamchatka Peninsula
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Helicopter over Kamchatka’s Smoking Volcanoes

Visit the wild Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia’s east coast, a wide volcanic promontory thrusting upward from the Pacific Ring of Fire. Explore this spectacular region by cross-country vehicle and helicopter, meeting its diverse people and experiencing its ruggedly beautiful landscapes en route.

Embark on a helicopter flight to the Valley of the Geysers, a UNESCO Site where geysers, mud pots, thermal springs and steam vents erupt from the valley floor.  Another helicopter flight takes you north to meet nomadic indigenous Koryak and Even reindeer breeders – a fantastic opportunity to learn more about their traditional way of life.  

Discover Russia’s outback on the small group tour:


Hovercraft over a frozen Lake Baikal. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

Hover over a frozen Lake Baikal
Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

Boat, Hydrofoil and Hovercraft over Lake Baikal

UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia is the most ancient lake in the world, and the deepest.  The lake basin is almost a mile deep in places and its endemic plankton filter the water to near-transparency.

The best way to experience Baikal is to get out on itBoat out to the beautiful islands and hidden coves of the Ushkaniye Islands, the only place in the world where Baikal’s freshwater seal, the nerpa, can be seen in its natural habitat.

Hop a hydrofoil to carry you from a village homestay on the eastern shore over to the western shore, where you can board the Old Circumbaikal Railway. Or board a hovercraft for an extraordinary expedition out onto the Baikal ice, where you can try dog-sledding, piloting a team of Siberian Huskies.

Find a combination of nautical and overland conveyances on these small group tours: 


Ride the rails of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Photo credit: Jamshid Fayzullaev

Ride the rails of the Trans-Siberian Railway
Photo credit: Jamshid Fayzullaev

Ride the Rails – Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the world’s longest train routes and certainly among the world’s most famous. On the regularly-scheduled trains you’ll get the chance to meet Mongolians, indigenous Buryats, Russians and other international travelers on their way to Moscow. Make a cup of tea or coffee from the samovar at the end of the wagon, and share a picnic lunch with other travelers on the table by your compartment window.

Before boarding, explore Mongolia’s capital and the sweeping alpine landscape of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, where you can try riding a sturdy Mongolian horse.  In Siberia, visit the native Buryat village of Hargana, a lovely little village of nearly 1,000 souls on the open steppe just north of the Mongolian border.  

Rail journeys by private train are in a class of their own, adding modern amenities to Old World rail travel – particularly pleasant on such epic routes as the Trans-Siberian

Encounter these experiences on a small group tour, or a rail journey by private train:


Tour the Road Less Traveled with MIR

MIR has 30 years of experience taking travelers on the road less traveled at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

30 years of travel expertise means that the specialists at MIR know how to get there, what to do while you’re there, and how to enhance your trip in each of our destinations.

Wondering which destination or itinerary is right for you? In addition to browsing the pages of our free catalog, you can narrow down your choices online using our Trip Finder and the Destination Map.


Top photo: Travelers ready to embark at a portable helicopter pad in Kamchatka’s Valley of the Geysers. Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

PUBLISHED: March 9, 2016

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