|Highest point||2,588 m|
After landing in Irkutsk we will take you to a secluded place on the shore of Lake Baikal. You will stay in cozy rooms from Siberian larch and relax after the flight. A chef will cook for you traditional Baikal dishes from fresh meat and fish. You will have dinner in the fireplace hall with a glass of red wine.
The recreation center of Russian Railways is located 130 kilometers from Irkutsk, in the territory of the Baikal National Park, 5 meters from the shore of Lake Baikal. It was built in an isolated place and designed to receive high-ranking guests. Patriarch Theodore II, Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Yakunin rested here. In the territory of the center there is a branch of the Circum-Baikal Railway.
The recreation center of Russian Railways consists of two separate complexes. The first includes: a pier, a two-storey banya, a veranda for banquets, a main building with rooms, a dining room and a fireplace hall, a tennis court, an open heated pool with Baikal water, two observation platforms. The capacity of the complex is 20 people.
The second complex is located 700 meters — 10 minutes walk along the shore. In 2017 on its territory several additional residential buildings were built. Double and triple rooms are available. The total capacity is 30 people.
There are several two-room rooms with an entrance hall and a study.
The Circum-Baikal Railway is one of the most expensive railways in the world. On average, one engineering structure is built for each hundred meters. The CBR is called the “Golden buckle of the steel belt of Russia”.
An interesting area is 84 km long, on the western coast of Lake Baikal. Here the greatest number of monuments of engineering art is concentrated: 470 bridges, 280 retaining walls and 39 tunnels. You will watch it from the water, you can make stops and land on the shore if you wish.
Today you can devote to healing and spa treatments. The morning will start with yoga and breathing exercises with the instructor. In the fireplace hall you will be prepared detox cocktails, assorted Siberian teas and jams from wild berries. After lunch you will have a masterclass how to use a snowmobile. In the evening you will have banya with the best bath attendant in Russia and care your skin with cosmetics based on taiga herbs and Baikal water.
The territory of the center is divided into four zones. Each zone has separate procedures and entertainment. In the morning on the terrace with panoramic views of lake Baikal practice yoga and breathing exercises with an instructor will be held.
In the fireplace hall will be a tea ceremony with tasting of Siberian honey, jam from taiga berries and fir cones. Cooking of detox and vitamins cocktails. There is a separate area with Thai foot massage and manicure.
After lunch, you will get instructions how to drive the snowmobile, and then go ice fishing. If you are a beginner, the instructor will teach you how to use spinning, tell you how the bait differs from the fly and how to pull the fish. From catching fish, the chef will cook fish soup and show how to smoke omul.
In the evening, one of the best Russian bath attendants, Gennady Nikolaev, will work with you. In addition to steaming, he will prepare cosmetic compositions for face peeling, hair masks and body scrubs. Cosmetics are made on the basis of Baikal water, Siberian herbs and berries. Also, the massage therapist will work in banya.
There will be scented candles and peasant background music in the closed rooms. At the dinner we will organize wine and cheese tasting from the Baikal cheese factory.
You needed yesterday's masterclass to drive almost a hundred kilometers on the ice today. Your aim is to cross the Baikal from West to East and get to the Baikal Biosphere Reserve. On the way, you will overcome snow fields, ice hummocks and cracks. To stay in good shape, we will make stops for snacks and photographs. You will have lunch in the visitor center of the reserve — in the menu there is boiled potato with stuffed whitefish, pickled mushrooms, roast venison and blueberry cheesecake. After lunch, you will walk along the cedar alley, see interactive expositions and feed the Barguzin sable.
The Baikal Biosphere Reserve is a three-hour drive from Irkutsk, in the village of Tankhoy. Its main goal is to protect cedar forests, the area of which is comparable to the territory of Mauritius. The reserve is included in the world heritage list and is protected by UNESCO.
At the reserve there is a museum of nature and ethno town with a Buryat yurt and a Russian hut. On the first floor of the visitor center there is an interactive hall dedicated to Lake Baikal and its environmental protection. In a separate building there is an exposition telling about the history of the Circum-Baikal Railway, in the street there are restored railway carriages of tsarist times. Also, there is an enclosure with Baikal sable.
There are more than a thousand species of plants in the reserve, many of them are listed in the Red Book and are found only here. Here you can meet: wild boar, roe deer, elk, sable, black kite and brown bear.
"Siberian cheesecake", which you will be served as a dessert is a cake with reserved blueberries and homemade sour cream. It is baked by one local woman. The dough is airy and the sea of berries explodes in the mouth, the taste is amazing. If you like it the hostess will be happy to share the recipe.
Park-Hotel Beliy Sobol is the best ski hotel in the regions of Russia in 2015. On the territory of the hotel there are 4 cottages, a building with hotel rooms, a two-storey restaurant, a banya, summer houses with a barbecue area and a laundry.
The hotel is located 134 km from Irkutsk, at the foot of Sobolinaya Mountain, where a ski resort works in winter. The distance to the shore of Lake Baikal is 2 km. The hotel has five categories of rooms: "standard", "junior suite", "studio", "apartments" and accommodation in a separate two-storey cottage. The area of the rooms is from 12 to 35 m2.
The room rate includes breakfast (buffet).
Today you have time to spend a free day at the foot of the ski resort. You can rent a ski or snowboard and ride from the slopes. For beginners, the resort has a service of certified instructors. You can dine in the restaurant at an altitude of 900 meters with the view on Lake Baikal and you can cook dinner yourself in the format of a masterclass. Buryat poses, rolls of fresh omul and marshmallows from Baikal strawberry, here is an incomplete list of gastronomic workshop.
Sobolinaya Mountain is a ski resort located 130 km from Irkutsk and 2 km from the shore of Lake Baikal. The first track was opened in 1969, when enthusiasts of extreme sport manually cut the first track. In 1991 the first lift was built and since 2003 the resort has twelve trails and eight lifts.
In the resort there are hotels, hostels, cafes, restaurants, night club, souvenir shops. In the Baikalsk City which is 2 km away there is a swimming pool, supermarkets and other city infrastructure.
Getting up at 6 o'clock in the morning, instructions on survival and getting the prepared SUVs — so the morning begin before the three-hundred-meter race on the ice. The previous days were just preparations for Baikal weather, water, products and nature. Today the cracks will be wider, the hummocks higher, the snow deeper and areas of absolute pure ice will seem endless. Until evening we will work in a team and storm kilometer by kilometer to get to the “Heart of Baikal” — Olkhon Island.
The ice of Baikal is what attracts thousands of tourists from around the world. The area of ice mirrors equal to the area of Belgium and the length of the coastline is equal to the distance from Moscow to Vienna. The period of comfortable and safe travel on the ice lasts from February 20 to March 20 — the ice is the thickest and the weather is not so severe.
On the ice you can move almost by everything: cars, airboats, bicycles, skates and skis. At the tsarist's time on Lake Baikal there were even trains. Landscapes are also diverse — tens of kilometers of snowy desert are replaced by areas of clear ice, and the fields resemble mountains of broken glass, pass into a strip of ice sheets stacked on top of each other. Due to winds and underwater earthquakes, the ice is constantly shifting and cracking. Every day new landscapes are formed.
You can read more about travel on the ice in the report “The Course to the North”. We also went round Baikal several times by SUVs as part of the International SUVs Expedition Baikal Trophy. You can watch the film about it of the TV channel Drive or read the impressions of the correspondent of the magazine Men's Health.
Hadarta is a recreation center located 300 km from Irkutsk, in the area Maloye Morye. It was named after the cape of the same name. From the rooms you can see the views of the Islands Ogoy and Olkhon. The shore of Lake Baikal is 500 meters. Hadarta is located in an isolated place, there is no any other centers at a distance of 5 km. On the territory of the center there is a dining room, a shop, a bakery, a sauna, detached cottages from glued beams, a playground for children, several summer houses for barbecue, a guarded parking lot and a private pier.
When we hear about Baikal we can think about not only a huge amount of water but also: shamans, tambourines and prayer drums. You will visit the most energetically powerful and important for local people places — the Island of Olkhon and Ogoi. The first island is a place of pilgrimage for religious people from all over the world. The second is the largest island on lake Baikal and it's the most visited by tourists. During the day you will see and take pictures of the main sightseeings of Baikal — ice grottoes, Shamanka Rock, Cape Khoboy, Sarai Beach and sacred pillars.
Ogoy is an island, on top of which a snow-white Buddhist stupa weighing 350 tons was built. It is dedicated to the mother of all Buddhas — Troma Nagmo. ‘Stupa’ in translation from sanscrit is the top.
Stupa was built in 2005 by volunteers from Russia, Belarus, the US, England and Portugal. Construction materials were delivered by boats and helicopters, and then manually lifted to the top of the island.
Considering the severe weather of Lake Baikal, the stupa was built from reinforced concrete, which is used for the construction of dams and hydroelectric power stations. The cavity inside the stupa was filled with marble sand, and the outer walls were covered with a reflective paint. On a sunny day, a stupa can be viewed from a distance of thirty kilometers with a naked eye.
Stupa, built at an altitude of sixty meters above the level of Lake Baikal — the highest mark of the island.
The outline of Ogoy from the air resembles a dancing girl and the stupa is set in the area of her heart. People have never lived here, so the island is considered “clean land”. The only inhabitants on the island are gophers and seagulls.
At the base of the stupa there were immured: books and handwritten manuscripts with Buddhist teachings weighing about three tones, shells and water from all the oceans, the Holy lands of Jerusalem, Jordan, Egypt, Mexico and Russia; different tools such as mows, saws and axes. As a reminder to future generations about the past wars, the builders placed aviation bombs in the base of the stupa.
According to Buddhist customs, to purify from bad energy and fulfill desires, you need to walk around the stupa. The more circles, the higher the probability that the gods will hear you. You can get to Ogoi by helicopter, boat or on the ice in winter. There is no regular transport connection with the island.
Olkhon is the largest island on Lake Baikal. Its area is 730 km2, which is comparable with the area of Singapore. However, on the island there are not more than 1,500 people living and in Singapore there are five million, so people can not be found here anywhere. “Olkhon” from Buryat is wooded.
Olkhon is interesting for its wild landscapes — thousands of photographers from all over the world come here for inspiration. We recommend you to visit the island one day to go on the shaman land and take photos of the main attractions. It is best to explore the island from the water, in winter — from the ice, periodically going to the shore.
Rock Shamanka, Saray beach and sacred pillars are the most photographed objects on Lake Baikal. Shamanka is one of Nine Holy Shrines of Asia. It stands in one line of importance with Mount Kailas in Tibet, the Shaolin Monastery in China and the city of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
In the rock there is a through cave, where shamanic rituals and sacrifices were held before. At the foot of the rock there are rock paintings and inscriptions in Sanskrit. Here shamans were burned and buried. Previously, it was impossible to pass by the rock on wheels, and women had to go around it for two miles. The local people still care about this place.
Not far from the cliff there is a three kilometer Saray Beach and sacred pillars — serge. Pillars from the bottom to the top are tied with colorful ribbons. Each color means a specific wish: red — happiness, yellow — wealth, white — health.
Cape Khoboy is the Northern part of the island of Olkhon. “Hobo” from buryat means fang. If you look from the water, the rock resembles a female profile with a bust. In the area of Khoboy there are grottos, where you can go by boat in summer and in winter they turn into ice galleries. The rocks annually form piles of broken ice, hummocks and cracks.
Cape Khoboy is located near the widest place in Lake Baikal — 79 km. And the deepest place — 1642 m. From the bottom to the water's edge there are two placed on each other skyscraper Burj Khalifa.
The large mass of Baikal water makes the winter softer on the island, and the summer is cooler. Olkhon is considered one of the sunniest places in the world. There are no more than fifty cloudy days in the year. The island is connected to the mainland by ferry. In winter, there is a road on the ice.
You took a good pace and in a week saw half of Lake Baikal. Today you can wake up whenever you want, lie in bed watching TV and eat ice cream without getting out from under the blanket. If you wish, during the day you can take a walk around the area and take some panoramic photos. In the evening you can have banya drinking homemade beer, brewed on Baikal water. For dinner, the chef will cook something of your favorite dishes.
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After a week of traveling to secluded places of Baikal, we will take you to Irkutsk. There will be a whole day to walk through the main streets with lacy merchant mansions. Here you will find cozy restaurants and noisy pubs, quiet streets and an embankment full of young people. If you wish, we will take you to the chocolate factory, where they make the best cedar roasting or show you how to cook local ice cream. We advise you to spend the evening in the art gallery, walking with a glass of wine past the works of Siberian artists and the world famous Buryat sculptor Dashi Namdakov.
Irkutsk is the sixth largest city in Siberia with a population of more than six hundred thousand people. It is located on the banks of Angara river, 70 km from Lake Baikal. Since the beginning of the 17th century, merchants conducted trade with China and mined gold. There was an office of the Russian-American Company — monopolist in fur trade in the East of Russia.
There were Chekhov, Fidel Castro, Indira Gandhi, Kim Ir Sen and Tsarevich Nicholas in Irkutsk. Here, the Decembrists served the penal servitude and Admiral Kolchak was shot. In the Irkutsk drama theater actors Leonid Bronevoy, Mikhail Svetin, Gleb Strizhenov and film director Leonid Gaidai worked.
You can spend a day walking through the main streets with historical buildings and the embankment, to drink coffee in the picturesque 130th quarter among the merchant estates. The city has many restaurants, cafes and pastry shops, there are modern shopping malls with brand stores. You should also go to the Angara Chocolate Factory and Angaria Ice Cream Factory. Among the cultural objects of interest is the gallery of Victor Bronstein there are works of the world famous Buryat sculptor Dashi Namdakov.
Kupechesky Dvor Hotel is a modern reconstruction of a merchant's estate. It is located in the historical center of Irkutsk. The windows from rooms overlook a pedestrian street with shops, pastry shops and restaurants. The hotel has fourteen rooms of three categories: “standard”, “junior suite”, “studio”.
Breakfast is included in the room rate.
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In each region we've selected and combined the best in one trip: sights, equipment, hotels, food and people. These offers will help to form an idea about the possibilities of recreation in a particular place. You can make changes to any program.
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