This five-day tour of Baikal is the best option for visiting the lake in a short period of time, bearing in mind that you could travel here for a month and still not manage to see everything. In this time though you will see the main sights of Irkutsk and also visit the only inhabited island in Baikal – Olkhon, where you will be able to immerse yourself in the unique and magical atmosphere of Baikal.
Irkutsk is one of the oldest cities in Siberia and its main feature is the large number of wooden houses which can still be found here, some of them 100 or 200 years old. It’s a real have for wooden architecture. For several centuries Irkutsk has been a window to the East as many explorers, merchants, scientists and military men set out from here to the Amur, Pacific Ocean, Yakutia, Sakhalin, Alaska, Mongolia and China.
Olkhon Island is the largest and the only inhabited island in Baikal. It is often referred to as the heart of Baikal and it is amazing how many types of landscapes you can find here: hills, forest, dunes, alpine-like meadows and steppe. Close to the island is the deepest point of the lake – 1,637 metres. In addition, the island is considered a holy place for Buddhists and many trees here have had ribbons tied to their branches.
During the trip on Olkhon, you will visit what is perhaps the most beautiful part of the island – Cape Khoboy. This is the most northerly tip of the island from where you can get breath-taking views of the lake and the island. You will also explore the southern part of the island and visit sacred Tazheran Steppe - the most beautiful place on the western coast of Lake Baikal. The steppe zone, where there is almost no vegetation, but a large number of salty lakes. Here you will see Mount Yord - a sacred place of power of Buryat shamans, where the annual festival Yordyn games, which gathers Buryats, Evenks, Yakuts and Mongols in a huge festive round dance around the mountain.
1 DAY / IRKUTSK
Arrival in Irkutsk. A guide with a sign saying will wait for you in the arrival section of Irkutsk Airport or the Railway Station, depending on your transportation.
Breakfast at a cafe.
Transfer to Olkhon Island. On the way, you will visit Tazheran Steppe.
The Tazheran Steppe is a 35-40 km stretch of steppe around 400 million years old. Such landscapes are more typical for Northern Mongolia than for the Baikal taiga, so they look very impressive against the background of the huge lake. It is one of the most interesting geological sites around Lake Baikal and about 130 minerals, semi-finished and precious stones have been found in Tazheran in the rocks and hills that dot the steppe.
One of the main sacred places in the steppe is Mount Yord, a perfect hemispherical mound which rises 42 metres on an otherwise perfectly flat plateau. It looks like the mountain must be man-made, but it is in fact natural. Since ancient times, shamans have been performing their mysterious rites here.
Arrival in Khuzhir – the largest settlement on Olkhon Island. Night in Khuzhir.
2 DAY / NORTHERN OLKHON
Excursion to Cape Khoboy - from the Buryat, ‘khoboy’ translates as ‘fang’ and you can see why as the rocks resemble a fang. It is located in the very north of the island. Various grasses grow on Cape Khoboy such as orange lichen and thyme, which are considered to have health benefits and locals make medicinal products from them. It is also not uncommon to see people meditating here or strange markings on the rocks. The cape represents the most northerly point of the island and from here you can enjoy amazing views of the lake. You will have a little picnic near the cape Khoboy. The highlights of the tour include:
- Shamanka Rock – the main sight on the island and a symbol of Lake Baikal. It is considered a holy place and often features in films and photos of Baikal.
- Cape Sagan-Khushun - a ridge of picturesque rocks whose name translates from the Buryat as Cape White. Some of the most beautiful rocks here are known as the Three Brothers. At the base of the cape there are many grottos, some of which can even be visited by boat.
- Peschanka – the constant wind which blows in from Baikal here brings with it lots of sand which forms dunes and hills. It is the largest deposit of sand, not just on Olkhon, but in the whole of the eastern shore of the lake.
- Cape Khoboy – this is a whole complex of stunning rock formations, some among forests and others covered with an orange lichen. Some of the rocks have holes or intricate cracks which makes them all the more beautiful. It is a favourite place for meditation. The cape is located at the widest part of Baikal, and so only on the clearest of days can you see the eastern shore of the lake. Here you will have a small picnic outside with a stunning view of the lake as your backdrop.
- Uzury – a beautiful part of the island which resembles an alpine meadow. Situated here is one of the oldest weather stations on Baikal. It is the only place on the north of the island where the road goes down to the water. You can ride horses here or just take in the wonderful view.
Duration: 6 hours | Transportation: by a car
Night in Khuzhir.
3 DAY / SOUTHERN OLKHON
Tour to the Southern part of the island. The main stops during the tour are:
- The observation deck "Field Stan", which offers a picturesque view of the Little Sea and Khuzhir village.
- Yalga Lake is the largest lake on Baikal Island, in summer it is warm and pleasant for bathing. It is surrounded by the picturesque steppe landscape. The lake is separated from the Small Sea by a thin natural sand slant.
- The Little Hurgoi Bay, which offers a wonderful view of Ogoi Island: one of the sacral places on Baikal, where the protected sacred Enlightenment Stupa is located, in which Buddhist relics are embedded. It is believed that such stupas are designed to dissolve all negative obstacles in the world.
- The Hargoi Pass is one of the highest points on the island - 701 meters above sea level.
- Cape Mare's head, the southern tip of the island resembles a horse profile.
- The Kurykan Wall is the ancient Kurykan's religious building, created in the 7th-8th century A.D., that enclosed Cape Horgoi on the Olkhon. Kurykans are ancient people, who inhabited Olkhon and Pribaikalie in VI-IX centuries. They are considered to be ancestors of modern Yakuts.
Duration: 6 hours | Transportation: by a car
4 DAY / IRKUTSK
Breakfast at a cafe.
Transfer to Irkutsk.
City tour of Irkutsk - the highlights of the tour includes:
- Angara Icebreaker – one of the first icebreakers in the world and the oldest surviving example. It was made in England and transported to Baikal by railway before being assembled. It was tasked with breaking the ice for the Baikal ferry. It was launched in 1900.
- Moskovskie Gates – these gates in the form of a triumphal arch were created in a blend of renaissance and empire styles. They were established in 1813 in commemoration of the 10 year anniversary of Emperor Alexander I’s reign on the entrance of the centre on the Moskovsky Highway. In 1928, after standing for 115 years, they were demolished due to their dilapidated state and their connection with the imperial past. However they were recreated to mark the 350th anniversary of the city.
- 130th Quarter – this is an area of historical buildings and the touristic centre of the city. You will find here many architectural monuments and souvenir shops.
- Lace house - the house of the Shastin merchant family was built here at the end of the 19th century and is today better known as the lace house due to its decorations in the elegant Russian baroque style. The house was restored recently according to archived plans and old photographs.
- Znamensky Monastery – this monastery dates from 1689 and is the residence of the bishop of Irkutsk. Located on the territory of the monastery are graves of several leading Decembrists and their wives who followed them into exile, as well as that of the ‘Russian Columbus’ Grigory Shelikov who explored America for Russia and was one of the founders of the Russian-American Company.
- Admiral Kolchak Monument – a monument of one of the main leaders of the White Russians during the Russian Civil War. This monument was erected close to the site where he was executed.
Check-in at your hotel. Night in Irkutsk.
5 DAY / DEPARTING IRKUTSK
Transfer to the airport or railway station in Irkutsk.
- Optional excursions should be booked before the start of the tour to schedule the itinerary.
- The tour is available in English, French and German other languages upon request.
- During the high season (from May to September) and on public holidays we recommend you book in advance as Olkhon Island a popular tourist destinations.
- All excursions/guided tours included in the itinerary are private which means private guides and private transport along the programme - unless otherwise stated.
- The tour is suitable for travellers with children.
- Best time to travel on this route: from the end of May to mid-September and from the end of February to end of March.
- The prices given below are for guidance only. The actual final cost of the tour will depend on availability. Hotel prices and train tickets may increase or decrease in cost depending on how much in advance you book them.
• CANCELLATION POLICY •
DATE OF CANCELLATION
|FROM 60 TO 45 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||10%|
|FROM 44 TO 15 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||30%|
|FROM 14 TO 7 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||50%|
|LESS THAN 7 DAYS BEFORE THE DEPARTURE||100%|