25 million years old, 1637 m deep, 636 km long, 80 km wide Baikal is the deepest, oldest freshwater lake in the world. It is one of the most amazing destinations in Russia. We invite you to visit our magnificent Baikal! During this tour you will see one of the most popular places of Baikal – so called Maloe More (The Strait of Small Sea), and the energy and geographical center of the lake – Olkhon Island.
Tour destination: Irkutsk – Taltsy – Listvyanka – Small sea – Olkhon (Burkhan, Khoboy) – Irkutsk.
English speaking guide service during the whole tour!
Day 1: Irkutsk – Taltsy – Listvyanka
After arrival – meeting at the airport with our English-speaking guide, breakfast and the city tour through historical part of Irkutsk.
Irkutsk is included into the number of historical cities preserving their old planning and buildings. There are about 685 historical and cultural monuments in Irkutsk, 108 of them are monuments of national importance.
The city of Irkutsk was founded by Russians in 1661 – at the beginning of the colonization of Siberia and became a political, economic and cultural center of Siberia.
Nowadays there are more than 600 monuments of history and culture in Irkutsk, and you will see the most interesting of them, such as: Spasskaya Church, the Epiphany Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Church, the monument to Alexander III, the monument to Kolchak, Znamenskiy (the Omen) Convent, the Monument to G.I.Shelikhov and etc.
Transfer to Listvyanka
Most travelers start the acquaintance with Baikal in Listvyanka village. This is the most popular holiday place at Baikal, it is 70 km from Irkutsk or a 1 hour car ride.
On our way to Listvyanka we will visit the museum of wooden architecture Taltsy. It contains 40 historical and architectural monuments and 8000 exhibits of a great historic importance. The first wooden buildings of the museum were removed from the floodable zone of Ust-Ilimsk reservoir. The museum was founded in 1966. On 20th February 1995 the Russian Federation President issued a decree about making Museum Taltsy an object of national history and culture heritage. During the tour to Taltsy museum you`ll see 13 architecture complexes with 36 wooden buildings on the territory of the museum. They get the visitors acquainted with material and spiritual culture of Near-Baikal nationalities – Russians, Buryats, Evenks. The museum expositions tell about everyday life, customs and traditions of Near-Baikal nationalities in late 19th – early 20th century. Original and magnificent Siberian folk architecture attracts a special attention of tourists.
Stop at the observation area opposite the famous Shaman Stone. The Angara is 1779 km long and is the only river flowing out of Lake Baikal. Its source is the widest in the world, it does not freeze during the most severe Siberian winters (width – 863 m , maximum depth – 4.8 m, speed – 5.1 km/h). In the middle of the river, at its head, rises a rock cliff 1.5 m high (Shaman-Stone) protected by the state as a natural relic mentioned in the legends of old times.
A beautiful legend well-known in Siberia has it that Baikal the Old wanted to marry his beautiful daughter to a young warrior named Irkut (one of the Angara tributaries). But Angara fell in love with another knight, Yenisey, and ran away to join him. The furious father cast the huge Shaman Cliff after her. East Siberia’s largest hibernation place of water fowl is to be found at the source of the Angara River. And of course there live beautiful and loud white sea gulls without which it is hard to imagine Lake Baikal and its shores.
Visit to the Baikal Museum. The museum was established in 1928 when the Baikal Limnological Station opened in the village of Listvyanka (since 1961 – the Limnological Institute). Every year the Baikal Museum has more than 30,000 visitors. The unique exhibits tell about the origin and the history of the lake, its flora and fauna, geological structure, climate and tectonics of Prebaikalye.
You will see: collection of minerals; exhibits found in scientific expeditions, models of the lake bed showing its history, the peculiarities of its shoreline and bottom. And also Baikal fish (omul, golomyanka, kharius, sturgeon, taimen, pike); Microorganisms inhabiting Baikal waters and destroying everything that might pollute the lake.
Walking tour of Krestovka village with a visit to St. Nicholas’ Church. Legend has it that Russian merchant Serebriakov was caught in a storm out on the lake and prayed to St. Nicholas (Protector of Navigators) for help. His prayers were answered and on his safe return he began to build a church to thank the saint (in 1846). Unfinished when he died, the church was completed by the merchant’s wife. Located in Listvyanka village, the residents attend service held in the church. In the 1950-s the building was restored and many icons from other churches of Irkutsk were brought there among which are some rare items dating back to the 18th century.
Visit to the local fish & souvenir market. At the local market you can also buy souvenirs made by local Siberian masters, and also taste smoked fish from Baikal: omul, whitefish.
Transfer to Irkutsk, accommodation at the hotel.
Meals: lunch at a local restaurant in Listvyanka. Dinner at your own expense – our guide will recommend you the restaurants.
Day 2: Small sea
After the breakfast we will go to the central part of Baikal – so called Maloe More (The Strait of Small Sea), located 250 km from Irkutsk. The small sea is a part of Lake Baikal separated by its largest island Olkhon. It is 72 km length and from 4 to 17 km width. This is one of the richest fish parts of Baikal, and one of the warmest parts. The nature is very picturesque here. After arriving to Maloe more you will be accommodated in wooden houses with toilet and shower.
Walking tour along the shore of the lake and small tracking to OBO (the sacred shamanic place of locals).
Meals: Full board (breakfast, lunch, dinner) during your stay is included.
Day 3 – Day 6:
Two bus excursions (UAZ/Russian Jeep) according to the schedule of tours are included.
The whole day tour to Olkhon Island is also included. Whole-day guided group tour to the northern point of the Island – Khoboy Cape.
The cape is located at the place, where the lake is widest. There is a ground, where all-Olkhon shaman festivities («tailagans») were conducted. Nerpa, the unique Baikal seal, can often be seen here.
Here you will also find the rock, bearing the same name, Khoboy, which means “claw” in the Buryat language, though the shape of the rock resembles rather a woman’s silhouette with a bust. No wonder they also call it a Maiden-Rock. Your guide will tell you a marvelous related legend.
The road towards the northern tip of the island will be like riding a jeep-safari since it runs through woods, sandy fields and steppes without any hard surface. The road gets much worse after the rain, that’s why the principle transportation implies the use of the UAZ all-roaders.
Olkhon is the biggest Island at Lake Baikal. It is situated right in the middle of the lake.
The word Olkhon means “sunny place” in Buryat language.
It was said that Baikal is the heart of Siberia, and Olkhon is the heart of Baikal. It is a geographical, historical and sacral center of the lake.
During this tour you will see the Shamanka Rock, also known as Burkhan Cape. The rock is the subject of numerous fables and legends. It is here that the shamans of all the areas surrounding Baikal and even shamans from Mongolia were conducting their tailagan meetings. Later, after Buddhism was introduced to the area, the rock became a place for religious rites of the Buddhists inhabiting both shores of the lake.
It is the locals’ sacred belief that the spirit of Baikal dwells in this rock. Buryats’ beliefs prohibit people even to approach the rock, especially girls. In the earlier times horse riders would wrap the horse’s hoofs in cloth long before they reached the rock and would dismantle and lead the horse by the bridle in order to show respect for the Baikal’s spirit and not to disturb him.
The Shamanka Rock is one of the 9 sacred places of Asia, which used to be called “stone-temple”. It is considered to be the dwelling of the main of the 13 Sky Dwellers – Khan Khute-Baabai, who has descended onto Earth to master humans’ lives. At the foot of the rock a strange carving and an inscription in Sanskrit was preserved.
Next to the rock, there is the Youthfulness Gulf, having dived into which, according to the local beliefs, you will become younger in body and soul.
Further the road runs through terrain boundary Peschanoe (20 km north of Huzhir settlement), which is famous for its attractive sandy dunes. Constant winds, blowing from the lake transport sand from the beach to form sand deposits which cover the area of 3 sq.km in the shape of sand hills, beds and dunes.
And at last here we are – Khoboy Cape.
After we have tried delicious fish soup («ukha» in Russian) and some fish, we will start our way back to the hotel.
In free time you can just have a rest on the sandy beach or take other excursions with English-speaking guide (extra charge on spot, in Russian Rubles):
Ogoi Island. The Buddhist stupa of enlightenment was established on the island of Ogoi in 2005. Ogoi is situated in the middle of Maloye more (The small sea) and from the air it looks like the dancing goddess. The stupa is on the top of the island (512m) on the height of 50 m above Baikal level. Volunteers from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Minsk, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, New York, London, Lisbon took part in the building of the stupa. Buddhists believe the more often you go around the sacred places (like stupa, Buddhist hills, sacred mountains) the more the possibility the made up wishes would come true. They also believe that if you go around the stupa 108 times is guarantees the cleansing of a sin. Our guide will tell you the details and peculiarities of visiting the stupa.
Meals: breakfast, dinner
Lunch. Transfer to Irkutsk.
The tour price includes:
• Double accommodation according to the program;
• Meals according to the program (if not specified as at own expense);
• Charge for visiting the Pribaikalskiy national park;
• All the transfers along the route;
• Museum and excursion fares according to the program;
• Guide service during the whole tour.
The tour price does not include:
• Plane or train charges to Irkutsk from departure as well as plane or train charges to the next destination upon the program’s completion;
• Meals, if specified as independently and at own expense by the program;
• Dishes and drinks not included into the main menu according to the program;
• Additional services listed in the program but specified as at additional charge or not listed in the program;