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Rafting Adventure on Sayan Oka River

Irkutsk cityDay 1 Irkutsk city and departure to the rating trip area.
Arrival to Irkutsk by morning flight/train. Meeting with your guide, brief excursion around city center of Irkutsk by car with a stopovers at the most interesting places: central city square, monument for a Alexander III, king of Russia who decided to build a Trans-Sib rail line and  place of the city foundation framed by Orthdox church and monument for Cossacks - first Russian settlers of Siberia.
Around noon you will have a departure to the rafting trip area by car. It’s going to be pretty long drive (about 450 km, 6 hour drive), as this place is very remote. In one hour drive we will get to the southern corner of Lake Baikal, were we will take a stopover for a lunch in a cafe with a wide open view to the extremity of the lake and neighboring mountains.
From here we will head to the south, moving towards to Mongolian border via vast spaces of Tunka Valley. This a gorgeous wide countryside valley bordered with a steep rocky Sayan Mountains.  Road passing by number of local villages and often meets banks of Irkut River – main water streSayan Oka headwaters lake and Munku Sardik peakam of the Tunka Valley. Paved part of the road ends at Mondy settlement  right before the border to Mongolia, we have to pass a check point of the border guards, as from here on we will travel in the border zone of Russia for a while. Gravel road will took us into the very middle of Sayan Mountains following a picturesque rocky deep canyon. In a while road will get to the beautiful mountain plateau with a lake, from which Sayan Oka River take a start as a small creek. In a clear weather from here you could observe north face of a heist summit of eastern Siberia – peak Munku-Sardik (3458 m).
Continue driving down the Oka Sayan River valley till the main settlement of this remote mountain region – Orlik. In the evening we will reach our today’s destination – big meadow on a bank of Oka Sayan River where we will set up a tent camp and download all rafting gear.
Dinner and overnight at the tent camp.

Day 2 Beginning of the rafting trip.Sayan Oka River
This morning right after breakfast we will start to pump up boats and prepare rating gear for a trip. While building boats your guide will give a lot of practical advises and theoretical information about main leader commands, paddling, teamwork tactics and personal safety on rafting. All personal and camping gear will pack in dry bags and carefully attached to the boats. After all preparation is finished we will have lunch, cooked over campfire by the bank of Sayan Oka River.
After lunch we will get dressed in a life vests and took a place on the prepared boats to give a start for our rafting adventure.
Not far from the starting point we will pass the first rapids (class III) on our way. This is a powerful rapids there all the river stream gets twice narrower and raise waves up to 1.5 - 2 meters high.  Passing those rapids is a good chance to check skills and coordination of our new rafting team. Sayan Oka River
For the rest of the afternoon we will not have any other major rapids, so all the trip members could relax and watch extremely beautiful landscapes of Sayan Oka River plateau. River flow through vast steppes framed with gorgeous peaks of Sayan Mountains. Close to the today’s campsite place river enter a spectacular rocky canyon with walls made of black volcanic stones.
Today we will camp on the lovely green meadow by the mouth of fast roaring Jom-Bolok River. The one who is into the fishing could try their luck at the river’s confluence place. Dinner by the evening campfire and overnight in a tent camp.

Day 3 Rafting along the Sayan Oka River plateau
Sailag waterfall
Breakfast at the camp. Right after breakfast we will pack our gear in the boat and continue rafting trip down Sayan Oka River.
Not far from the starting point we will take a stopover to see main local destination – Sailag waterfall, located on the side steam. This is amazing place which looks like a round shaped extension of the narrow canyon with overhanging edges. Water falling down in the middle of this cirque, not touching walls, as a solid stream – don’t miss you chance to take a memorable photos!
Continue boating along Sayan Oka River. Today we are going to meet several exciting rapids (class II) and last small countryside settlements of this valley, before we will get to completely uninhabited areas.
While passing plateau region river is meandering a lot, has a lot of islands and branches, but general currant speed are always fast. Aboriginal name of Sayan Oka River is “ok-hem” which means arrow-river and showing well its rapid character.
At the late afternoon all numerous river branches will be joined in a single steam and we will see impressive rocky entrance of Orkha-Bom canyon. Today we will moor at the picturesque sunny campsite at the bottom of the steep mountain slopes near the creek. 
In the evening you could spend some time picking mushrooms, fishing or trekking at the beautiful camp surroundings.

Day 4 Entering Orkha-Bom CanyonEntrance of the Orkha-Bom canyon
Today morning we will do the boat preparation and go rafting to the most exciting part of Sayan Oka River – gorgeous Orkha-Bom canyon. By the entrance canyon is narrow, curved and river waters deep and dark, both canyon sides has a spectacular light rocky pillars sticking out of the mountain slopes covered with taiga. Here the river is very silent and smooth, but in a short while you will hear loud sound of the first serious rapids, named “Three Geologists” (class III). River speed up and falling into the narrow passage hits the rock on the right bank. Not far from this place we will get to the series of powerful rapids named “God Save Us” (class III) which
looks like a number of the big waves all over the river width in a random mode. Majestic huge vertical cliffs are rising from both sides of the canyon.
By the midday we will take a break for a lunch. All team members could share with each other excited experience of passing first serious rapids. Rafter's Museum on Sayan Oka River
This afternoon we will continue our rafting adventure in Orkha-Bom canyon by passing two most interesting and significant rapids of Sayan Oka – “Okinskiy” and “Buryatskiy” rapids (class IV). At the central part of “Okinskii” rapids there are two huge white water waves up to 3 meter high one behind another. After passing big rapids we will stop at the very special place, known as a “Rafter’s Museum”. Almost every rafting teams which travelling on Sayan Oka River use to bring here some useless staff, which you would never imagine to see in the middle of this wilderness – computers, TV, phones, toys and other strange items. By the local tradition every newcomer should pass a fun inauguration ceremony here.

Day 5 Way out of Orkha-Bom Canyon Campsite at Sayan Oka River
Breakfast at the camp, packing of the personal and camping gear and continue rafting down Sayan Oka River. First rapids appear in a short while after we stared and following one by one with short interspaces. 
Tall rocky cliffs are standing behind every river turn and reflecting in sparkling blue-green lagoons. At the bottom of them we will see several beautiful deep grottos; quite often steep canyon walls decorated by gentle long waterfalls. 
Lunch stop will be taken at the spectacular spot near the deep lagoon with dark waters. Canyon is a great place for grayling fly-fishing, so while lunch will be prepared for you over campfire you could try your fishing luck.
This afternoon we will have some really good white water raftingFishing at Sayan Oka River. Rapids “Haragol 1,2” (class IV), “Centrifuge” and “Mill”  would not leave anyone  indifferent and dry. By the evening we will reach a marvelous camp spot at the river island.

Tonight we will have an unforgettable experience of Russian Steam sauna – Banya – made right on a river bank. After sauna it would be a gear pleasure to cool down by swimming in the river. Festive dinner for the case of the passing Orkha-Bom canyon will complete this day.


Day 6 Three Oka River confluence.
In the morning we will prepare boat, fold a camp and take off. Landscapes character change – river valley get’s wider and more open, you could have a panoramic view for a Taiga covered mountains at both river sides. Currant speed remains fast and time to time we will pass interesting white water rapids (class II-III).
By the middle of this day we will reach interesting place, which locals call “Three Oka’s”.  Here the mainstream of Sayan Oka River makes a steep turn and joins two major inflow rivers – “Hoito Oka” and “Urdo Oka” – geographically close to each other. We will stop at this spectacular place to cook lunch and have some trekking at the surroundings.
This afternoon we will continue rafting down Sayan Oka River. River meandering a lot and has a number of the side valleys. River banks and closest mountains are all covered with dark mixed forest.
Tonight we will camp at the picturesque spot with a sandy beach and rocky cliff behind the deep river lagoon. Dinner by the evening campfire.


Day 7 Getting of the mountains
Today we have to cover a big distance along the river, so we’ve got to start early. Fishing at Sayan Oka River
At this area we will discover first sciences of human activity – small log cabins of local fisherman and hunters or meet them in person – some of the most risky ones getting here by motor boats travelling upstream.
The today’s highlight - visiting a small community of religious Orthodox people, named Old-Belivers, who lives here, in severe conditions of Siberian wilderness all year round. This self-supplying community completely isolated from a civilization, excluding communication with passing by rafting tourists and few local fisherman in summer time. Depending on an occasion (at some holy days they are not welcoming visitors) you could take a look on their houses, mod of life and even try to have a conversation.
You will definitely enjoy stunning river landscapes with high cliffs and rocky islands which we are going to see this afternoon. Slowly, terrain gets flatter and we will see mountains behind of us. This evening we will set up tent camp at the island with a good fishing spots, so with certain luck we will have a grilled fish for dinner.

Day 8 Rafting conclusion. Coming back to I
rkutskSayan Oka River
After breakfast we will do the remaining part of the river to the final point of our rafting trip near the Verkhneokinskii village. At this part river gets very wide and divides into the numerous small branches flowing between islands. In many places you could see different marks of beavers, which have a quite rich population here.
Upon arrival we will deflate boats, pack the gear in a car, which would come here to take us back to Irkutsk city. While packing we will cook last lunch over campfire.
After lunch we will say “Good Bay” for her majesty Sayan Oka River and have a departure to Irkutsk city by car. First part of the road is rough gravel; on the way we will take a several stopovers to see genuine old Siberian villages and its traditional log houses, decorated by the woodcarving.
Side road ends in small town Zima, from which we will travel to Irkutsk on a paved highway for about 5 hours.
Upon arrival to Irkutsk city late in the evening you be accommodated in a private guesthouse (privately owned flat at the center of Irkutsk city) and have festive dinner for a case journey conclusion.

Click here to see photos taken on this tour

Tour price

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Tour price includes:

1. Service of two English-speaking guides on rafting
2. Transfers by car from Irkutsk to the trip area and back.
3. Rent of the camping gear (tents, sleeping bags etc). 
4. Rent of special rafting gear (boats, paddles, life vests, dry bags etc).
4. Full food supplay, 3 meals a day cooked by guide.
5. Permition for visiting border zone of Russia and registration service in Irkutsk.
6. National Park entrance frees.
7. Pick up service in Irkutsk city.

Map of the Sayan Oka River region