Duration: 8 days
June - September;
This is a beautifully combined tour for those who would like to visit the most picturesque places at Baikal – Olkhon island and to have cruise for 3 days to Natural reserve - warm waters of Chivirkuiskiy gulf, try fishing, explore Olkhon island by Russian UAZ car, go biking at the biggest island of Baikal, swim in clear waters and get sun tan on sandy beaches, visit the Baikal seal rookery at Ushkaniy islands. Hot springs of Zmeinaya bay will make you healthy, relaxed and full of Baikal energy!
Arrival, transfer to Olkhon island
Welcome to Siberia! Once you arrive to the train station you’ll be met by your English-speaking guide who will accompany you during your trip. Transfer to Olkhon Island – the biggest island on Baikal lake by mini-van. It takes about 6 hours to cover the distance of 300 km. Out way runs partly through the forest, flowering 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 a ferry. Once you reach the island you’ll understand why Olkhon means “little woody” from the language of native people. 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 kind of steam sauna which will make you clean and relaxed after a long journey. Dinner at the base. Accommodation at wooden houses.
*Breakfast, lunch, dinner on your own expense. (dinner at the base will already be ordered for you for this day.
**If you want to have Banya at the base (which you probably would like to have after Transsiberian train), it must be ordered in advance as it is usually busy once you arrive. Banya is not included into the tour price and can be paid upon arrival to the base.
Excursion to Burkhan cape, biking, suntanning
Today you can have early morning and breakfast. If you are quite sportive you can rent bikes at the base and travel around Khuzhir village by bike.(*optional, must be paid at the base). 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. On a sunny day one may have a swim or get suntan there. It is also interesting just to walk in the sand and take pictures of funny crooked trees which grow there. You can go back to the base for lunch or drop by the nearest café which are open in summer time. Take a walk along streets in Khuzhir to see the atmosphere of a village. There are no paved roads of course, and electricity appeared here just in 2005. Lots of souvenir shops and Yurtas will not let you pass by without having a look at them. It is also recommended to visit local museum which is located at school. The founder of this museum was a teacher who collected with his students a lot of exponents form the island. The museum will give you an idea about people, nature and cultural background of this place. Dinner can be ordered at the base. Enjoy watching stars sitting near the campfire among your friends. Overnight at the wooden houses.
Excursion to the north of the island – Khoboy
Today you’ll visit the most picturesque sights of Olkhon island as you are going to excursion to the northern part – Khoboy cape. The best transport on Olkhon is Russian 4WD – UAZ car, as it is optimal for off road in the forest. 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 most northern point of Olkhon Island. It is also called a “lady” rock. You’ll understand why it is so when you come to this place from waterside while being on cruise. 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, rocky outline of Saint Nose Peninsula. This place is also considered as one of the most energy place 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. Before returning back to Khuzhir we’ll make a stop in one more place – Uzury. This is one of not many exits to Baikal on the eastern shore as it is very steep and rocky. 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.
Excursion to Shara-Nur lake
After breakfast we’ll have excursion by UAZ car to Shara-Nur lake. This excursions takes 5-6 hours. Shara-Nur Lake is located at the Taiga forest on the main ridge of Olkhon island. From the language of native people – Buryats, the name of the lake is translated as Yellow Lake, waters of which are very warm and comfortable for swimming. Also it is believed that mud from this lake has some curative qualities, especially for skin and bones. At this recreational stop you’ll be served lunch. You may take a walk to the forest near-by or have a swim. Return back to the base and packing your stuff. Leaving to the main pier of Khuzhir. At 18.00 we are loading our luggage and boarding the boat. We leave Khuzhir and start our cruise part of the trip. If you are lucky with the weather today you have a unique opportunity to enjoy colors of Baikal sunset from the waterside. It is said that the most beautiful sunsets are at Olkhon island where the sun sets right behind the Promorskiy mountain. We are going to the north of the lake, to the right side you’ll still be accompanied by beautiful rocks of Olkhon island which are so different from the water. Once we reach the northern point of Olkhon – Khoboy rock – there you’ll see and understand why this rock is also called a “Lady”. Just from the water you can clearly see on outline of a female who rises up from the water. The legend says that once gods being very angry at one spirit’s wife for her greediness turned her into a rock saying:”… unless there is jealousy and greediness in the world you’ll stay a rock”. Dinner and overnight at the boat.
We are going to the north of the lake, to the right side you’ll still be accompanied by beautiful rocks of Olkhon island which are so different from the water. Once we reach the northern point of Olkhon – Khoboy rock – there you’ll see and understand why this rock is also called a “Lady”. Just from the water you can clearly see on outline of a female who rises up from the water. The legend says that once gods being very angry at one spirit’s wife for her greediness turned her into a rock saying:”… unless there is jealousy and greediness in the world you’ll stay a rock”. Dinner and overnight at the boat.
*program for day 2 and 4 can be changed on your demand.
Cruise to Chivirkuiskiy gulf. Hot springs of Zmeinaya bay
Under conditions of good weather you may meet this morning at one of the most interesting places at Baikal – Uskaniy Islands archipelago. It is unique due to its beauty and natural peculiarities. Developing independently from the main land, the archipelago contains all wonders of Baikal nature. Ushkaniy Islands archipelago cosists of 4 islands: Big, Thin, Round and Long. The biggest island has an area of just 9,5 square km. It stretches from west to east for 5 km and its width is about 3 km. This island is the main breeding area - rookery of the only fresh-water seal in the world – Baikal nerpa. You may see these unique animals laying on the stones and rocks getting warm under sunshine. According to scientific information, the population of nerpa varies around 2000. Nerpa is very curious but careful, so you have to be as quiet as possible otherwise they will jump into the water. Sometimes their friends – seagulls warn them about danger – man, that’s why you must be careful and quiet as a mouse. For visiting the territory of Ushaniy Islands archipelago the foresters charge tourists money, about 2000 rub a person. But if you are lucky to see nerpa – it is worth it!
After visiting the island we continue our cruise northwards to one of the most picturesque gulf of Baikal – Chivirkuiskiy gulf. This is the territory of Barguzin nature reserve. The gulf got its name because of the river “Chivir” (it means to twist, coil), which flows into Baikal here. In old times the gulf was called Kurbulikskiy. The shoreline of the gulf is cut by numerous cozy bays, with shores covered with taiga forest and the sandy bottom of the bays with seaweed. In quiet weather one may see each grass on the bottom through transparent water and fish school.
In one of the bays – Zmeinaya (snake) – there are hot springs coming right from underground. The bay and the spring got their names because of grass-snake – non-venomous snake which can be met here. At the shore where the spring comes out there is a wooden box built for people to take baths. The temperature of the water there is +40 to +45˚С depending on the season. But it is not recommended to stay longer than 10-15 minutes at one time in the bath! The springs are believed to cure and prevent radiculitis, locomotorium system, skin problems and just for relaxing. Fresh summer forest air, hot warmth of curing water, stunning Baikal views – this combination always gives amazing effect of recovery from city tiredness and depression. The territory of Chivirkuiskiy gulf is special-protected territory of the reserve. Visiting this place must be paid upon arrival there to the foresters. ** We are going to land in one of the bays of Chivirkyiskiy gulf for overnight. Be aware of mosquitoes here as foreigners are their favorites! Fish barbeque is possible to organize at the shore for you if the weather permits. And of course swimming at the warm clear fresh waters is possible at any time of the day. Overnight on board.
Fishing in Chivirkuiskiy gulf. Cruise to the western shore (Pokoinilky cape), return to small sea
Today you can spend in Chivirkuiskiy gulf fishing, swimming or just sun tanning on your wish. Walks along the picturesque shores are also nice. Chivirkuiskiy gulf is famous as a best fishing place – fishing of chance! Here even people who never fish become interested and excited. The best period for fishing here for big fish such as Perch and Pike is June and period from end of August till end of September. Note that Chivirkuiskiy gulf is one of the places of Baikal with warmest waters, the average depth is 4-10 meters. The water is well heated in August till 22-25˚С. So of course fish doesn’t like such hot temperatures. So in very hot season be ready to catch only weed fish. If you want to fish some noble fish you must go to western more deep shore of Baikal. All variants for fishing can be discussed with the captain on the place, and you’ll choose the best one. You definitely have to try fish soup or Baikal-style barbecued fish. If you are a fisherman, it is recommended to bring all your fishing equipment with you.If the weather and wind permits we’ll also boat to the opposite western shore today. There we’ll land in one of the cozy bays or near the Solnechnaya meteostation and have a walk along the picturesque shore there. At this place Primorskiy mountains come close to Baikal and this is the starting point of the route to the source of Lena river. But this is another 3-days hiking trip. Enjoy views around and breath in nature. In the evening we have to start back to the Maloye more. The way from Chivirkuiskiy gulf to Maloye More is about 15 hours. Dinner and overnight on the boat.
Cruise to MRS settlement. Return to Irkutsk
In the morning when we get to Small sea we’ll make one stop at the Ogoy island. It is a rocky part of ground with several crooked bays. It stretches form west to east for about 3 km. In summer 2005 there was a Buddhist Stupa built. Officially it is called as Brightening Stupa, which includes the statue of women – the mother of all Buddhas and the only mother Troma Nagmo. It is a stowing Stupa, there are different Buddhist relics and ancient books, weapons, grain, money, bronze statue of Buddhist dakini Troma Nagmo. There are number of similar constructions al over the world, but in Russia there is only in Kolmykiya. Ogoy island was not choose accidentally for this temple. First it is not and was never spoiled by civilization, it is uninhabited island. Is was also considered as ideal place where 4 elements withstand: fire as a sun, water, ground and wind. This place has unique energy. One should have only bright positive thoughts and wishes here and it is believed they will have several times stronger power. This Stupa is intended to show people the way to brightening of their minds. Arrival to MRS after breakfast, at about 10 am. Leaving the boat. Then we are going to have transfer by minibus back to Irkutsk. It takes about 5 hours. Lunch stop on the way in one of the road cafes. Upon arrival to Irkutsk you’ll be accommodated in the central hotel. It is located next the central Karl Marks Street. From there you can easily get to the supermarket, book shops, central market, different shopping centers, beer houses, museums, night club, cafes, coffee house and restaurants.
Sightseeing in Irkutsk city
This day you’ll spend in Irkutsk. Favorable position of your hotel allows you to go to different sights on foot. But a car can also be ordered on your demand. 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, 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 of museum of history. (Decembrist’s museum must be ordered in advance). Festive dinner can be ordered in one of the restaurants to celebrate your trip to Baikal. You can always find your way back to the hotel easily.
|Group Size, people||Tour price per person, EURO|
Tour price includes:
- Accommodation as mentioned in the programme
- All fees for visiting national park zones
- All transfers mentioned in the programme
- English-speaking guide service
- Meals during the tour
- Rent of camping equipment, cooking and food ware
Tour price doesn’t include extra services:
- Extra services not mentioned in the programme
- personal expences and souvenirs
Our guests about this tour:
Bjoern Jaensch, Berlin, Germany
Feb 12, 2012Dear Sveta, A huge THANK YOU for your preparation, organisation and your assistance during our Baikal trip in summer 2011 ! Everybody in the group was highly impressed, organisation was perfect, it was like the Germans might have been assessed in the past: punctual and perfect. Each minute could been used to absorb the fantastic nature. Our group of 9 Germans, 8 of them without any experience in Russia, spent 4 days on Olkhon, 3 days on a boat and a bit more than 1 day in Irkutsk. The tour was non-standard, completely individually organised, considering both your great experience and our special requests. It’s worth to mention two other things especially: Our easy-going, wonderful tour guide as well as your professional, interesting city walk in Irkutsk! I’m sure, we will come back sometime! Baikal is amazing! Hope to meet you again then! Take care! All the best for you! Bjoern