The Gobi Desert, A Country Naadam Celebration, Lake Baikal

Beautiful and exotic, Siberia and Mongolia are worlds away from the traditional beaten path. Explore the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, then fly to the red sands of the Gobi Desert. Celebrate a country Naadam Festival, far from the glitz and ruckus of the capital. In Siberia, take to the waters of great Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on earth, and ride a section of the fabled Trans-Siberian Railway.

Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal with Siberia’s Old Believers
    Make a village visit to enjoy a home cooked meal and hear the powerful centuries-old songs of Old Believers, learning about their unique history and traditions...
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  • Cheer the Naadam Festival athletes
    Cheer on the school-age jockeys, traditional wrestlers and keen-eyed archers at the Naadam Festival....
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  • Discover the eerie sound of throat-singing
    Enjoy a performance of other-worldly Mongolian throat-singing...
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  • Sip tea in a ger in the Gobi
    Sip tea in the doorway of a traditional nomadic ger as you watch the sun set over the vast expanse of the Gobi Desert...
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over 30 years of Russia travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Princeton and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Russia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • MIR affiliate offices in the Siberian cities of Irkutsk and Ulan Ude
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-3: Ulaanbaatar, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

Explore the museums and monasteries of Ulaanbaatar, where over half of Mongolia’s people live. Time permitting, take a day trip from the capital to the grasslands of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, mingling with nomads along the way. From Ulaanbaatar, fly to the Gobi Desert, where the arid heat preserved troves of ancient dinosaur bones.


  • Ulaanbaatar, capital and most important city in Mongolia
  • Gandan Monastery, with the 20-ton gilded statue of “the Lord Who Looks in Every Direction”
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Days 4-7: Gobi Desert, Local Naadam

Experience traditional ger living in the Gobi and walk in the footsteps of 20th century explorer, Roy Chapman Andrews. Celebrate with local crowds at a regional Naadam Festival, which is to the Ulaanbaatar Naadam Festival like a county fair is to a giant state fair.


  • Gobi Desert, with the Flaming Cliffs and Togrogiin Shiree, where the fossil of the “Fighting Dinosaurs” was uncovered
  • Shady Yolyn Am Canyon
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Days 8-10: Irkutsk, Listvyanka

Admire the traditional wooden houses of Irkutsk, home to early political exiles, and attend a classical concert in the Decembrist House Museum. Board a private boat for a spectacular cruise on Lake Baikal tracing the old Circumbaikal Railway. Arrive in Listvyanka village and relax in a delightful Siberian lakeshore lodge.


  • Irkutsk’s neighborhood of wooden buildings, decorated with the lacy wooden fretwork typical of Siberian architecture
  • Decembrist House Museum with private concert
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Day 11: Aboard the Trans-Siberian

Experience life aboard the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway on the day-long leg between Irkutsk and Ulan Ude.


  • Short section of the world-famous Trans-Siberian rail line to Ulan Ude, with little villages, grasslands and taiga forest

Days 12-16: Ulan Ude, Ust-Barguzin, Lake Baikal, Olkhon Island, Irkutsk

Disembark in Ulan Ude to tour its important Buddhist monastery. Visit a village of Old Believers, descendants of 17th century Orthodox Christians exiled by Catherine the Great. Wind your way through the remote Barguzin Valley to homestays in rural Ust-Barguzin, and boat across Lake Baikal to search for freshwater seals around the Ushkaniye Islands. Spend the night on Olkhon Island before a festive farewell dinner in Irkutsk.


  • Ulan Ude, capital of the Buryat Republic with the world’s largest Lenin head
  • Ivolginsk Datsan, center of Russian Buddhism
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices


Group Size

Small Groups – Never More than 16 Travelers. Guaranteed!


What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in superior tourist class hotels (Ulan Ude, Irkutsk and Ulaanbaatar), in gers elsewhere in Mongolia, and in homestays and/or guesthouses around Lake Baikal. Ger camps and homestays have shared bathroom facilities.
  • 15 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 13 dinners per the itinerary. A few lunches or dinners are not included so that you may dine on your own.
  • Restaurant tips for included meals.
  • Services of an experienced, English-speaking MIR Tour Manager with local guides at specific sites.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end cities.
  • Transportation by coach, van or jeep (type of vehicle depends on group size and terrain).
  • Transportation by scheduled train along the Trans-Siberian from Irkutsk to Ulan Ude.
  • Boat transportation on Lake Baikal.
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.

Before Your Tour

  • Personalized pre-departure support from one of our knowledgeable Tour Specialists.
  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list, reading list, insurance information.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Customized visa application and instruction kit (please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
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Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

Consider a China extension to Xi’an or Shanghai; a Yangtze River cruise; a Silk Road journey from Beijing to Kashgar; prolong your stay in Mongolia; or travel to Vladivostok via the Trans-Siberian Railway. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

While the accommodations we utilize are superior tourist class, please keep in mind that some aspects of the tourism infrastructure in Mongolia and Russia are not up to the standards North American travelers expect. Services are improving in the region; however you may encounter problems with bureaucratic service, road conditions and availability and quality of public restrooms.

A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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