Company is defined as a group of people working together, so when you work with White Umbrella, this is exactly what you get: a group of people who work hard together to make sure you have a fantastic travel experience.
Natalia Savchenko, the Managing Director of White Umbrella, was born in the Evenk district of Buryatia, a Russian province enriched with a diversity of religions and cultures. The native Buryats and their Russian counterparts celebrate a myriad of secular, Buddhist and Christian holidays together, such as “Tsagansar” (Buryat New Year), conducting Buddhist rituals on sacred calendar days, celebrating Eastern Orthodox Easter, and sometimes even taking part in shamanic rituals that give offerings to local spirits.
Natalia established the company in 2004 with a deep wish to show the richness and extraordinary color of Siberian culture, and in so doing, brought forth something fascinating and truly beneficial to her clients. She designed specific cultural tours for her clients exactly in the same way that she herself prefers to experience travel. This is why our expeditions focus on remote places and include meeting, conversing and sometimes even traveling with interesting people, such as authentic Buddhist lamas, shamans and hermits, and taking part in rare rituals. 2004 saw White Umbrella host the first expedition to Mongolia. This experience generated many friendships and close partnerships, and our Mongolian friends are now always eager to receive White Umbrella travelers as they would their own family, offering authentic national dishes and sitting around the table sharing stories and legends about their amazing country and its people.
In 2009, Natalia took the profound step of trekking in India, traveling through Sikkim and Darjeeling along the foothills of the Himalayas. This pilgrimage tour with then boyfriend Tashi Wangdi from Bhutan, and traveling with Tibetan lamas, was the impetus for offering similar adventures for White Umbrella clients. He has been a student of Buddhist philosophy in India for 21 years and traveling was something he always did when not immersed in his studies. He used his experience to organize many tours for his foreign friends who wished to visit Buddhist holy places in India, so the work of booking hotels, purchasing tickets and all of the obvious duties of a professional tour operator is completely natural for him. Since this time Natalia and her now Bhutanese husband have been customizing pilgrimage tours throughout India, Nepal and especially Bhutan that include an authentic Buddhist lama or monk who acts as a guide and can precisely explain about each and every holy sight on the tour. This is just one of the many facets of White Umbrella’s ability to provide the utmost satisfaction to every client. We realize how important it is for those interested in Buddhism and its holy places to travel with somebody who is experienced in Buddhist philosophy and has clear knowledge in regards to these very profound places. As an added bonus, being under the chaperone of such guides can afford many the rare and precious opportunity to visit monasteries and holy places that are usually prohibited to mainstream tourists, and even observe rituals and ceremonies that may not usually be performed in public.
So, why the name White Umbrella? Our company is named after the Tibetan Buddhist protector ‘Dhuk-Kaar’. She is the protective, or wrathful, emanation of the female Bodhisattva White Tara and is the protector of travelers. Her name, translated from the Tibetan, literally means: “White Umbrella”. Thus, this name clearly represents the attitude of our company in regards to the service we wish to provide to our clients.
We do what we love. We love the wild, we love interesting people, deep spiritual experiences, remote places and witnessing vanishing cultures… we love adventures.
White Umbrella Team:
Natalia (Lake Baikal)
Tashi Wangdi (India, Bhutan)
Mr. Bin (Vietnam)
Thupten Tsering (Tibet)
Sonam Gurung (Nepal)