I'd like to invite you for a trip to winter Baikal. During this trip you’ll see the most beauties of wintry Baikal, ride over the ice of frozen Baikal by snowmobile and feel its vastness, experience dog-sledding on Baikal and spend night at the warm wooden houses, try Russian Banya, explore icy grottoes of Olkhon island, try ice-fishing and have a UAZ-car excursion to the northernmost of Olkhon island. It is a nice combination of activities and leisure at the same time! To read more...
Arrival to Irkutsk, meeting with your guide and transfer to Listvyanka by car. On the way to Listvyanka you’ll have a stop in the open air Taltsy museum of wooden architecture which is located at the picturesque shore of Angara river. Your next stop will be near the Shaman rock - a sacred place among local people. It stands in the widest river mouth in the world – the place where Angara river flows out of Baikal. In Listvyanka you’ll be accommodated at the hotel. Lunch. Sightseeing Listvyanka. Possible visit the Cherskiy rock by a funicular with a great scenery to Port Baikal on the opposite shore. As an option you can visit the Baikal museum, possible ride over the ice on the air-vehicle if it will be available during that time. Dinner, overnight at the hotel.
Listvyanka – Bolshie Koty by a dog-sled. Today you’ll experience the dog-sledding. After you arrive to Baikal Dog-sledding center, our instructor will tell you about the huskies' character, teach you to hitch dogs up correctly and to ride the sled. You’ll see how friendly the dogs are you are sure to find common language with this most devoted and most ancient man's friend! Dog sled riding is not difficult, but requires some training. After everything is ready and your luggage is loaded we’ll start the trip. The trip begins in Listvyanka village and you’ll go for about 20 km to Chernaya (Black) valley. The route starts along a river valley and down to the ice of Baikal lake. The sled can be doubled as expedition type. One person sits on the sleigh and one person controls. You’ll be accompanied with a snowmobile as well. As an option some part of the group may ride snowmobiles as well instead of the dog-sled, but it must be discussed in advance. Arrival to Prospector’s retreat Lodge in the Dark valley (a base with wooden houses, type of winter-houses) or in Bolshie Koty village wooden hotel. A walk around the village, sightseeing, possible ascending to the observation platform with a nice scenery to the village and the shore from the height of the bird’s flight. Time at leisure. (dogs will go back to Listvyanka the same day). In the evening you may experience Russian steam sauna – Banya. Dinner, overnight at the wooden houses.
Bolshie Koty – Bolshoe Goloustnoye village by snowmobiles.Today you’ll have a snowmobiling day. After breakfast we’ll load our luggage on snowmobiles and start to Bolshoe Goloustnoye village, which is about 45 km distance. 2 people ride on each snowmobile. You’ll see different landscapes on the shore – the forests and rocky cliffs as well as small bays. Riding over flat ice is quite fast, but at some places we may meet the fields of hammocked ice, depending on the ice regime which differs every year. Your experienced instructor will help you to find the safe way through it. Sometimes ice can be black and transparent, which gives a strange feeling of riding over the water. Lunch on the way. Once you arrive to Bolshoe Goloustnoye village you’ll be accommodated in the wooden house. Dinner. Time at leisure.
After breakfast you’ll have morning transfer by car to Olkhon island– the biggest island on Baikal lake. It takes about 6 hours to cover the distance of 300 km. Out way runs partly through the forest, meadows, little villages on both sides of the road, Tageran steppe – unique natural complex with hills, steppes, lonely rocks, caves and lakes. You’ll have a lunch stop on the way in one of the road cafes. For lunch you can try traditional Buryat dish – Pozy (Boozy). Olkhon was originally inhabited by Buryat people, one of Native people of Baikal who are Mongolian physical type. When you arrive to Small sea – part of Baikal which is separated from main part by Olkhon Island from one side and Primorskiy mountain range from another – you’ll cross Olkhon Gate Strait by an ice road. At this part of Baikal there is little snow as winds blow it away from the island. Maximim snow depth can reach 10-15 cm, which happens very rarely. 40 minutes ride will bring you to the central village of the island – Khuzhir. You’ll be accommodated at the tourist base and have some rest. In the evening you may enjoy Russian Banya* – a which will make you clean and relaxed after a long journey. Dinner at the base. Accommodation at wooden houses.
Day 5: One-day ride to the northernmost of Olkhon - Khoboy
Today you’ll have a day-ride by UAZ cars over the ice to Khoboy (the north of Olkhon). In summer time the road goes on the land but in winter once Baikal is frozen the road lies over the ice. Thus letting you see the incredible iced grottoes and frozen rocks. They are especially beautiful once the sun touches them and they sparkle. Before you reach Khoboy you’ll have several stops on the way to admire the beauty of local landscape. The most popular are: Sandy bay where Gulag camp used to be, Three Brothers cape with 3 separate steep rocks rising from the water. Khoboy Cape (from Buryat language it means “fang, tooth”) – is the northernmost point of Olkhon Island. It is also called a “lady” rock. You’ll understand why it is so once you stay facing opposite it and recognizing the female’s outline. It is spectacular rock which is located near the widest place at Baikal – 79,5 km. At clear weather it is possible to see the opposite shore and rocky outline of Saint Nose Peninsula. This place is also considered as one of the unique places with high energy outcome on Olkhon, as Big and Small Baikal seas meet here. Lunch will be served for you as a picnic in the forest. You’ll try a fish soup made from Baikal water and local fish – Omul. For Buryat people Olkhon island is geographical center of ethnical Buryat territory, it is a sacral center. Still once every 4 years Shamans gather on the island and perform their rituals. Olkhon Island, protected and separated by cold waters from other places has preserved traditional ideology and many traditions of Buryats. Return to the base in the evening. Dinner, overnight.
Today you can spend your day exploring Khuzhir village and its surroundings. You definitely have to walk to Burkhan cape (Shamanka rock) at the shore of Baikal. According to a legend this is a castle of the main spirit of Olkhon. It is one of 9 sanctuarities of Asia, center of shaman cult. It is highly respected among native people and shamans. There is a cave inside but it is forbidden to enter it. Right next to Burkhan rock there is a 3 km sandy beach – Saraiskiy bay. You enjoy walking over the ice to Kharantsy island (it is well seen from the shore) which also has beautiful small grottoes easy accessible by ice in winter. Take your time listening to Baikal breath shooting sometimes creating new cracks in its ice shield. Take a walk back and along the streets in Khuzhir to see the atmosphere of a village. There are no paved roads of course, and electricity appeared here just in 2005. Dinner can be ordered at the base. Enjoy watching stars which are incredibly big at the open sky on the shore. Overnight at the wooden houses.
Today we will go to the Small sea. This place is called a sea, but it’s now quite a sea – it’s a strait between Olkhon island and the western shore of Baikal. A car will take you there after breakfast. Accommodation at the hotel. Every fishermen knows that the best fishing is fishing at this place in March. Lots of cars with fishermen go on the ice and fish. Today you’ll try ice-fishing and get familiar with all the secrets and techniques of how local fish. Lunch and dinner at the base. Overnight.
Morning transfer to Irkutsk. Lunch stop on the way. Accomodation in the hotel in Irkutsk. This day you’ll spend in Irkutsk. Today you can relax and feel the atmosphere of Irkutsk – the capital of Eastern Siberia. It is 350 years old this year so the city celebrates its anniversary. It is a small Russian city with a rich history, located on the bank of Angara river, 70 km away from Baikal Lake. Irkutsk used to be wooden in the past. Even nowadays it is one of not many Siberian cities which preserved its wooden outlook. The city has mysterious charm: quiet shady streets with different carved decorations get on nowadays with many-storied modern buildings. Famous Russian writer Anton Chekhov compared Irkutsk to Paris. He said: “As England created London and France - Paris, the same Siberia created Irkutsk”. We’ll visit the historical heart of Irkutsk – the place where it was founded in 1661 and where the fortress was built at the shore of Angara river. You’ll see and can visit the oldest stone structure in Irkutsk – the church of the Saviour. Next to this place is the war memorial with an eternal flame which burns in the memory of Siberians fought in the World War II. Walk along the streets to the embarkment of Angara river – the only river which flows out of Baikal, to the fountain, Lenin and Kirov square, see the monument of Yakov Pockabov – the founder of Irkutsk fortress in the 17th century, souvenir shop, central market… You can have lunch in one of the city cafes. It is also possible to visit one of museum of you would like – Decembrists museum or museum of history. (Must be ordered in advance). Festive dinner can be ordered in one of the restaurants to celebrate your trip to Baikal. Overnight at the hotel.
Transfer to the airport/railway station.