East Sayan


We started our tour in Irkutsk. The memorial of Tsar Alexander II was just recently restored. In the Soviet period the pedestal carried an obelisk.


The 500 kilometers from Irkutsk into the mountains took us a day by car. Early in the morning we passed the southern end of Lake Baikal and stopped for breakfast at this point. The town on the other side of the lake is Sludyanka.
Tsar Alexander Memorial Baikal Lake

Senza Valley

When we walked up the Senza Valley in, one would say, very nice weather, we had to fight against temperatures of up to 36 deg C. I can imagine more comfortable conditions while carrying a 30+ kg backpack .

River Valley

Near the Khoito Gol River are the hot springs with the same name. From there it is just a day hike to the volcanoes.
Senza Valley River Valley


Our map does not offer a name for this beautiful peak, although it mentions an elevation of 2,587 m for its summit. It was visible south from our camp near Peretolchin Volcano.

Kropotkin Volcano

The whole Khi Gol Valley around the volcano is covered by lava, that was ejected by the cinder cones and reaches a good 20 km down to the Khara Nur Lake. The eruptions must have taken place several thousand years ago.
Mountain with no name Kropotkin Volcano

Crater 1

Inside the crater of Peretolchin is a puddle. The volcano seems to be a little older than its neighbour and is partially covered by trees.

Crater 2

The younger and yet bigger crater of Kropotkin is about 200 m wide. The eruptions happened as lava-fountains due to the low viscosity of the alkaline-rich magma. The volcanism is connected with the Baikal Rift zone.
Crater of Peretolchin Volcano Crater of Kropotkin Volcano


The mountains in this area form 2000 m high plateaus. View from the pass on the way from Khoito-Gol to the Volcano Valley, directly at the upper Bushtyg River, a small tributary of the Senza.

From the pass

View to the other side in direction of the Arshan and Khoito-Gol rivers. The hot springs near the junction of both rivers have a pleasant temperature of about 35 deg C and a devilish smell of rotton eggs caused by hydrogen sulphur.
Highlands Highlands

Wooden faces

Without knowing much about the Mongolian culture it is hard to find out, if these plastics are just a joke or have a religious background. Found above the entry of a hunting hut.


Many places are holy ones, especially the hot and mineral springs. In Choigan, already in Tuva territory, a few dozen springs are used by the local inhabitants for medical treatment and leisure. Many people come down here during season in search for health and leave their sacrifices, often rags of their clothes, but also other things down to electronic devices and, last not lest, money.
Local wooden plastics Sacrifices

Mineral water

The Choigan Hot Springs range from hot bath tubs to icy-cold Radon waters. Each spring cures selected diseases, some are good for the stomach, others improve eyesight. My body seemed to feel well in the warm water, which has a high mineral content, as the mineral layers in the bath-house demonstrate. The warm water does not smell. The locals rate the cold springs over the hot water, since too much of hot water is not good for health, they say. A matter of taste, isn't it?


A hut on mineral deposits near our camp site. Many locals from Tuva and the Russian part of Mongolia, the Buryat Republic, are using the springs on the borderline between the two regions. Russian tourists also visit the place.
Banya in Choigan Choigan

Volcano Valley

A panorama of the Volcano Valley, showing the cinder cone of Kropotkin Volcano in the middle.

Kropotkin panorama