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  Main arrow Tour offers and itineraries arrow Active Outdoors arrow Rafting Irkut River  


Rafting Irkut River


Duration: 9 nights/ 10 days;
Season: June 10 – September 1

This is a tour for those who love adventure and active recreation in the countryside, for those who do not have much specific experience of rafting mountain rivers, but who want to master this subtlety not elsewhere, but here on Baikal, in one of the unique places of the world, also called “the Well of the Planet”.

The tour starts with a visit to the capital of Eastern Siberia – the city of Irkutsk, and further our route will take us through a picturesque Tunkinskaya Valley located on the territory of Tunkinskiy National Park. The valley stretches for 200 km between the two mountain ridges – Khamar-Daban and the Sayan Mountains.

All through the valley runs the river of Irkut (the name stands for ‘whirling’ in the Buryat), which flows out of the Ilchir island near Munku-Sardyk, the tallest mountain of the Eastern Sayans on the border with Mongolia. In the upper reaches, it’s constrained between the banks, swift and restless. In the narrow Tunkinskaya valley, the river calms down and goes in loops bearing its waters to the city of Irkutsk, where it falls into the Angara.
In the upper part of Irkut, we will raft down the river, while it is still constrained in a narrow valley. The drive resembles slalom, because the narrow stream of the river is constantly changing. You will have to work hard on your team not to miss the right turn, skip the rocks in time, put the raft or the catamaran out after stumbling over large rocks. In one word, you will not have the time to be bored! Skilled instructors will help you join together as a team and enhance your abilities as a rafter, even if you haven’t had much experience of this kind of water trips.

And after this we will have a rest in a resort place called Arshan (standing for “pure springs” or “pure waters” in the Buryat). The area is unique for its artesian springs, a beautiful waterfall in the canyon of the mountain river Kyngara and for its Buddhist datsan perfectly fitting into the view of the foothills of the Eastern Sayans.
We wish you success in your discoveries and the best luck!

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1
Welcome to Irkutsk - “Paris of Siberia”, capital of its great Eastern part –Siberia’s Microcosm and the gateway to “Siberia’s” Pearl - Lake Baikal!

Upon arrival we meet you with professional bi-lingual guide holding  “Baikal Discovery” sign, assist with the luggage, and get ourselves on the coach for transfer to your hotel.

Enjoy some time at leisure before lunch of traditional cuisine to be served at the restaurant of the hotel. After lunch we will go on a brief sightseeing tour of this beautiful city with the visit to it’s most atmospheric sights. Dinner back at the hotel. Overnight.


Day 2
Today after breakfast and check out from the hotel we will start out for a quite long journey 7-8 hours to Orlik settlement (500 km away from Irkutsk).

Today we will be traveling along the Moscow Highway first to the southern tip of Baikal – Kultuk settlement (1.5 hours, - 100 km).

Here, at the viewpoint, is the best time to admire a magnificent view over lake Baikal and taste lovely Baikal fish (omul, whitefish and grayling) cooked in a number of ways. Lunch at a roadside café .

Then we will continue our way along the picturesque Tunkinskaya Valley, famous for its mineral springs and will cross the border between Irkutsk oblast’ and the Buryat Republic – the land of shamans and Buddhist sacred places. We will see the magnificent mountain ridges of the Eastern Sayans of Khamar-Daban. The road to the settlement of Mondy will take us about 3 hours (205 km).

Having reached the settlement, we will pass the border and follow the dirt road leading toward the Okinskoe plateau (about 30 km) to the settlement of Orlik, where the Irkut and the White Irkut rivers join. It is here that our rafting tour will start.

Upon arrival we will set up tent on the bank of Irkut river at the junction spot of the two streams. Dinner will be prepared over the fire. Overnight in tents under the starry sky.


Day 3
Today we will make an easy trekking along the old Okinskaya road which used to connect the Okinskoe plateau, separated from civilization, with the Tunkinskaya valley before the new road was built. Along this road cattle was driven and there was a horse path. One can still notice the remained telephone polls.

Quite a lengthy ascend will bring us to the plateau at the height of about 2500 m. A marvelous view over the top point of the Eastern Sayans – Munku-Sardyk Mount (3491m) and also over glacier lakes will present itself.

We will have a picnic at the top of one of the nearest hills. The road back is much easier because it leads us down the slope all the time.
We will return to the camp to have dinner at the fire and spend the night in tents.


Day 4
After breakfast we will begin preparations for the raft drive. First, we will assemble our vessels – 4 seats catamarans. Catamarans are used for rafting both high and low difficulty level rivers, and especially in trips involving long hikes. Catamarans were invented in Russia and are reliable and stable vessels, easy to maneuver with a team of 2 to 4 people. Catamarans require good team work for passing difficult places.

After we are ready for action, we will be instructed on passing the route. The first part of the drive will take about 2 hours. The first 20 km from the start the river runs in a narrow ravine. We will begin to meet obstacles right from the start, such as rocks, shoals and shivers (a rocky part of the river with fast flow and shallow bottom covered with separate rocks sticking out of water).

There are also small portions of calm water. In the beginning of summer, some tributaries tend to get shallow, but the main stream has sufficient amount of water and a good slope to provide for a decent drive speed. Dinner will be served on the left bank on a wood clearing. The drive will continue to the settlement of Mondy. Approaching the settlement, the river expands making the channel wider, we will meet separate islands and will get a deceiving impression that everything interesting is behind. We will spend the night 5 km down the stream at the mouth of Khuligiyma river. We will rest, go fishing, have dinner and spend the night in tents.


Day 5
We will have breakfast in the camp and get ready. Today is the beginning of the most interesting part of the drive from Mondy to Moygoty settlement. Right after the bridge, the river gets narrow again into a canyon and starts twirling between white rocks, sometimes approaching the road. At this part of the raft (about 30 km), we will have to pass a number of difficulty-ranked rapids with powerful stream and lots of ‘naval’ places, where the river’s flow tends to throw the vessel on the shore at sharp turns due to centrifugal force. We will have to work harder and harder paddling to avoid this. In some channels we will come across floating timber which poses a serious threat. Logs which fall into the water narrow down the fairway and some channels may turn totally impassable. The whole of the water slalom distance is passed on a single 3 hours breath. We will have lunch at the mouth of Haradaban river. After dinner there will be a similar dynamic portion of the drive and only before Moygoty settlement  does the river calm down expanding into a wide channel. We will stop for the night in the surroundings of the settlement on the bank of the river.

The schedule of the raft is drawn with a time reserve and can alter to due to water level fluctuation. When water is high, the speed of the river flow increases several times, when it is low – on the contrary. It the speed is relatively high, we will be able to raft way past Moygoty village.
We will put up a tent camp, dry our belongings, have dinner and sleep in tents.


Day 6
After a substantial breakfast, we will start for a famous place of Tunkinskaya valley – Arshan settlement. Arshan stands for “pure springs” or “pure waters” in the Buryat language. The settlement is located on the Kyngara river, at the foot of Tunkinskie bare rocks. The settlement sprung up over a hundred years ago and developed thanks to the healthful springs discovered here. The place gradually grew into a famous resort and a popular place for the Irkutians and the Buryats.

About 55 km before we reach Arshan, we will visit the settlement of Zhemchug (Pearl). Here there are hot thermal springs (43 degrees Centigrade) of Hongor – Ula. We will be able to take a shower or a bath or apply medicinal muds. The place is not very well planned and resembles a natural resort. It is located on the bank of Irkut river, which here looks quite different – calm and valley-like. Before diving into springs you may try the river. Here you can take a horse ride, hired at additional expense from the local grooms. After a brief rest we will continue our route to Arshan settlement.

Upon arrival we will first attend a small Buddhist datsan which has become the end-point of pilgrimage to the valley of the Shumak river. The datsan is now headed by Geshe Jampa Tenley. Because of snowstorms, the route of pilgrimage was changed and a statue of white elephant – a symbol of happiness – was left in the datsan.

Here we will drink water from artesian wells. Mineral waters of the resort are of a broad range of temperatures from cold of 110 degrees to hot of 450 degrees Centigrade. According to its chemical composition, Arshan mineral waters belong to the first class, rich in carbonates with a lot of gases. We will taste traditional Buryat dishes in a café before heading for Irkutsk.

After we have arrived to the city, we will accommodate at the hotel, where a special dinner with certificates awarding will expect us. We will spend the night here.

Day 7
After breakfast and quick preparations you will be taken either to the train station or the airport. You will leave the hospitable Baikal lands from here in order to continue exploring the new spaces of Russia and other countries.
Bon voyage!
At your wish you may continue the tour visiting Baikal for the period of 1 day and more. There are a number of options to compose your itinerary.

We can offer you both active and excursion-type recreation, such as visiting the Olkhon island, Circumbaikal railroad, a cruise to Peschanaya (Sandy) Bay and other beautiful locations of Baikal. In order to plan you itinerary, you should address us and we will help you to design the rest of your trip.
Extra information:

1. Total raft length – 70 km.
2. Total car drive distance – over 1000 km.
3. 2nd and 3rd category of difficulty raft.
4. In droughty times of the year the river may become shallow and cause difficulties in rafting.
5. The river is characterized by summer rain floods in July and August. During the spring high water and summer floods, water level rises significantly. Therefore, the schedule of the raft may alter according to water level.
6. Tour participant may not have much experience of  rafting.
7. All necessary equipment for rafting is provided: 4 seats catamarans, life-saving jackets, helmets, paddles, water-tight bags and 4 persons tents, fire equipment and cooking utensils, a first-aid kit.
8. Each tour participant is required to have the following set of personal belongings: a backpack, a sleeping bag, a plastic rug, clothes to protect from rain and water, and an individual first-aid kit suitable to the traveler’s health, a torch, dishes for meals and matches. One must have open sandals and a comfortable spare pair of walking shoes.
9. If you do not possess personal equipment and do not plan on buying, you can rent it at additional charge.
10. Meals are served 3 times a day. On river part of the tour, meat meals, vegetables and fruit, salads and dairy products are planned.
11. All participants will be insured against injury with possible helicopter rescue.
12. On each catamaran, there will be one instructor and four travelers. The instructor is the captain of the vessel and his orders must be unquestionably obeyed during the raft on the river.
13. All the jobs on putting up the tent camp, preparing the vessels and cooking meals are done by the instructors and the cook, but you are welcome to help.
14. In case of unfavorable weather (strong wind, storms) the tour operator resort the right to alter the program, having notified the group members in advance, but offering a quality- and price-adequate service to that being omitted.
15.  Should there be preferences in food or vegetarians on the group, we request to notify in advance in order to arrange an individual menu.
The cost of the above given itinerary for a group of 5 pax per pax – 650 euro.
The cost of the above given itinerary for a group of 8 pax per pax – 575 euro.

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