Expedition to Lake Baikal: By Train, Boat, on Foot!
Nature, culture, monuments and local people… Be active, yet enjoy some well-deserved rest! You will experience all this during a one-of-a-kind trip over Lake Baikal that combines the elements of a tour with numerous treks and other activities!
Baikal is nature. The lake tempts with its beaches, crystal clear water, endemic species of animals and plants, unique rock formations and the enchanting island of Olkhon. Baikal is a cultural blend that makes Buryatia and Transbaikal one of the most interesting regions in all of Russia. Baikal boasts beautiful monuments of sacred wooden Christian architecture (churches), Buddhist Lamaism (“datsans") and remnants of a rare version of shamanism. Baikal is all about its people, their stories, traditions and the way of life in faraway Siberia.
Join us on a unique journey to Lake Baikal. We will of course swim in Lake Baikal. We will climb the Siberian peaks. We will ride the train down a picturesque route along the historic tracks. We will drive a car across the endless steppe.
Flight via Moscow to Siberian capital - Irkutsk. Transfer from the airport to the hostel, accommodation and rest. Then, after a late breakfast, we will go on a tour of the city.
In the morning, we will take a bus to the Talcy open-air museum. It is a museum of architecture and ethnography founded in 1969, a unique collection of wooden Siberian sacred and secular architecture. A visit to the huge Talcy complex will also be an opportunity to take a closer look at the cultural heritage of the original inhabitants of the region - Buryats and colonizers - the Russians. Then we will go to the little town of Listvyanka, where we will visit the only limnology museum in Russia, operating at the Institute of Limnology. The Institute conducts biological, hydrological and geological research of Lake Baikal, so by visiting them we will be able to trace the extraordinary history of endemic fauna and flora and the reservoir of Lake Baikal itself. On the way back we will visit the market, where you can eat delicious fresh fish. Return to Irkutsk, where we will spend the night.
We are leaving Irkutsk. After breakfast, by boat or train (depending on weather conditions and availability of transport), we will set off to Sludyanka by route called Krugobaikalka. This is one of the most interesting attractions around the lake. The history of the railway running along the lake dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. We get off at the unusually beautiful railway station in Sludyanka entirely built of marble blocks. The town is also famous for the enormity of minerals that occur here (in the Soviet times, there was a mine here, today it is extracted rather illegally). Mineralogy enthusiasts will be able to see a huge collection of apatas, mikes, spinels and diopsides in the private Mineralogical Museum. After the difficulties of the day, we will go to dinner (this time the perfect plov) and to the traditional Russian banya. Overnight in a hostel in Sludyanka.
We start the more active part of our trip. In the morning, by car, we will go to the border of the city, where we will start the trekking to the Czerski Peak (2090m above sea level) in the Khamar-Daban mountain range. Depending on our strength, we will walk the entire route (20km), or we will only reach the pass (14km). The modern name of the mountain comes from the name of the Polish-Belarusian geologist and naturalist Jan Czerski, who was sent to Siberia after the January Uprising.
From Sludyanka we set off to the Tunkin National Park, between two mountain chains - the eastern range of the Sayan mountains and Khamar-Daban. We will reach the village of Arshan, which in the Buryat language means “a source of healing water”. Not without a reason - at the end of the 19th century, carbonate and sulfur mineral springs were discovered here. An opportunity for bathing for those willing. It is possible to visit the cemetery located near the town where the Polish exiles to Siberia were buried. Accommodation in an extremely atmospheric family pension.
Another of the active days of our trip! This time we will be trekking to Peak of Love (2144m above sea level). We will go about 20km along the trail to the mountain about which the local legend is interesting. The name of the mountain came from the former Buryat legend about the unhappy love of two people. At the top of the mountain, people in love can see their destiny - parting or eternal love. So enter the peak - only for the brave.
On this day, we will go to explore the area of the wild Kyngarga river, which will delight us with extremely interesting rock formations and unique flora and fauna. Then we will head back to Arshan, where the further route leads to the village of Zhemchug. A small mountain town is known primarily from the world's unique thermal springs. The courageous people who decide to take a therapeutic bath will be able to take advantage of the good properties of not only carbonates and methane, but also strontium, lithium, molybdenum and titanium. In addition to hot springs, an interesting attraction of the town is a building in the style of datsan (Buddhist university-monastery), in which there is a local museum. We will return to Sludyanka from Zhemchug, where we will take the night train to Naushki.
Naushki, located on the border with Mongolia, we should reach around noon. We will change into a bus that will take us to Kiakhta, a small border town. Kiakhta was founded in the 1820s as an important trade center between the Russian Empire and China. Therefore, despite its provinciality, it delights with interesting neoclassical architecture. One of the most interesting shrines is the Svoboda cafe building, where we can relax with a coffee. The place of our accommodation will be the legacy of another empire - the Soviet one, because we spend the night in a socialist hotel Druzhba, what means friendship.
After breakfast, we will go to an interesting museum in Kiakhta which shows the history of the city and the relations between Buryats, Chinese and Russians. Then, by car, we will go to Murochin which is one of the most magnificent Buddhist monuments in the region. The main temple dates back to the middle of the 18th century, with additional smaller temples added over time. This is the most important center of lamaism in the entire Transbaikal region. In the evening return to Kiakhta.
From Kiakhta, we go to Ulan Ude. On the way, in the Verkhnaya Ivolga, we will visit another important monument of the Buddhist culture – Ivolginsky Datsan. In Buryat language, the name of the monastery is the “Circle of Cognition that brings Happiness and Full Joy”. It is in this datsan that the head of the Russian lamaism has its seat. The extraordinary history of datsan lies in the fact that Joseph Stalin allegedly gave his consent to its construction. Today, it is recognized as an important religious center and tourist attraction. Once we reach Ulan Ude, we will visit the historic center, where the ... the world's largest head of Lenin deserves special attention. The history of lamaism will be brought to us closer by visiting the ethnographic museum. In the evening we will reach the former Cossack residence, and today a small town of Ust-Barguzin, where we will spend the night.
After breakfast, we will go to the town of Monakhovo, from where we will go on a boat trip on Baikal lake. We circle the peninsula called Holy Nose (most likely due to its shape). We will reach the “Vipers Bay”, where we will be welcomed by thermal springs. In the evening return to Ust-Barguzin.
Finally, after almost two weeks of travel, we will get on a boat to sail Lake Baikal. Baikal waters cover almost 30,000 square kilometers, the lake stretches for almost 650 kilometers, and in the deepest (measured) place it has a depth of almost 1650 meters. Above all, however, it is a lake that is considered to have the purest water in the world. We reach Khuzhir on the largest island on the lake - Olkhon. We will spend the evening in the holy place for Buryats, near Shaman Rock, which until today is the most important destination for the followers of shamanism.
The Olkhon island is known primarily for its breathtaking nature. On this day, we will visit the eastern part of the island during the car trip. It is full of interesting rock formations and panoramic views. At the end of the day, we will reach the north-eastern tip of the island, the Khoboy Head, from where you can see the waters of the lake, and in good weather the Holy Nose peninsula. Overnight in Khuzhir.
The second day on Olkhon will be devoted to its western part. We will move among beautiful landscapes, steppes, relicts and rolling hills. We will spend the rest of the day resting on the Little Sea, part of Lake Baikal, separated from the rest by the island of Olkhon. In the evening we will have a farewell to the lake in a Russian banya.
We are going back to Irkutsk. We will get there in the evening. For those willing we can organize walk to the center among beautiful, original wooden houses.
We are going for a day trip to the village of Vyershyna. Only a bumpy, dirt road leads to it. This is an unusual place, because almost all residents of the village are of Polish descent. Although for decades, due to the lack of contact with the country, knowledge of the language began to disappear, visit in the village is an unforgettable summary of the amazing time over Baikal. In the evening return to Irkutsk and say goodbye to the city. In the morning, travel to the airport and flight home.
• a return flight ticket with all airport charges
• care of an English-speaking guide
• meals: breakfast and dinner
• transport: minibuses, off-road vehicles, boats, tourist train on the route of the railway Krugobaikalka, long-distance train from Sludyanka to Naushki (4-person sleeping compartments)
• entrance tickets to the visited facilities and national parks
• information materials and maps
• NNW and KL + insurance of luggage up to 200 Euro
• obligatory insurance guarantee for the travel agency
• a mandatory fee for the State Tourist Guarantee Fund (TFG) for each person
PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
• costs of a visa to Russia
• other meals
• surcharge for a single room (250 EUR)
The place of departure is WARSAW or MOSCOW. In case you wish to travel from another destination or book flights on your own, please contact us for price quotation for this trip.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER:
The temperature in summer is good, usually around 18-20 degrees Celsius. There are years when the temperature reaches 30 degrees Celsius. At night the temperature can drop to 5-10 degrees. The water is about 15 degrees Celsius in July and August - these are the two best months to travel to experience Baikal fully.
The trip has a traveling character with elements of trekking. Only trekking on the Mountain of Love and Czerski Peak can be more difficult. Difference in latitude for the Mountain of Love is about 1100 m, and Czerskiego Mountain is about 1200-1300 m.
We travel in small groups. The minimum number of people on the trip is 8, maximum 14.
• The itinerary may change depending on the date of departure, weather and other factors.
• Learn more about general conditions of participation and find out how to sign up for a trip.
• The organizer of the trip is Active Travel Agency Barents.pl