Winter photo-safari on frozen Lake Baikal
The spectacular dance ofice and snow make for infinite permutations laid out like sculptures as far asthe eye can see. The perfectly transparent ice near the shores gives a window into the inner depths of Baikal. This is a great opportunity for nature lovers and photographers to observe the unique endemic Baikal seals - nerpa - in their natural conditions.
Moreover, you will have a chance to uncover the splendid winter landscapes along the lake Baikal as well as Ulan-Ude, the charming capital of Buryatia Republic, the most important center of Buddhism in Russia, and Ust-Barguzin, where you will have a chance to be warmly greeted by local residents. This is the mysterious world of the deepest lake on our planet, which you can capture Baikal ice trip and fishing through inspirational, evocative photography.
- National/State Park
Authentic Russian Banya
We found a fantastic russian banya facility in a hotel/guesthouse in Listvianka. It was about 20 USD each for 1 hour. Listvianka is rather spread out, along the south western shore of Lake Baikal. Coming from the south, when you reach the first valley, turn left up the dirt road incline, past the ARGO. Continue for about 200 m. You will see a hotel on the right made completely out of new pine. I don't remember what is is called. Go into the main lobby entrance to ask about a Banya. I believe you can get shared use of it until a certain time in the evening, after which it is rented/hired out for private groups. The facility is so quaint and well-hidden, we really enjoyed this authentic experience and it warmed us right up, after all that walking around in the cold!
- Family Travel
- Spa and Resort
If you're around Lake Baikal and have some days, definitely go for Olkhon Island. You can arrange tours at Greenexpress in Irkutsk or Listvyanka. They also have rentable tents if you don't want to bring your own. The island offers a beautiful landscape, nice camping sites, beautiful beaches and some wildlife. You might even get the chance to ride a husskie sled or to go on a canoeing tour.
Travelling the circumbaikal railway offers you magnificent views over the Lake Baikal. There are tens of tunnels and about 200 bridges on the way. The journey from Slyudyanka to Port Baikal takes 5 hours.
Hiking in the Taiga
Hiking under the tree shed of the Taiga is a must do experience. Be sure to get there with a guide if you get off the beaten track since the terrain is quite rough and finding your way out from the forest seems quite a challenge at moments.
- Hiking and Walking
Another fantastic way to experience the Lake Baikal region in the winter time is to rent a landyacht. The speed experience on ice is obviously much higher then those reached on sand. The lake experience strong winds quite constantly, thus making it the perfect playground for this type of activity.
Cycling on the Frozen Baikal
Quite a dangerous activity in the beginning since the melting ice can get very slippery and since the ice is cracking all around you. Nevertheless this is a must do activity. We rode our bikes out for a few hours then stopped along the bank where we had tea over a fire.
There's a level of clean that can be attained, Russians say, only through the rigorous action of a ritual Russian banya. A combination of dry sauna, steam bath, massage and plunges into ice-cold water.The parilka will have a furnace in which rocks are heating. Onto these, bathers throw water, usually with a dash or two of eucalyptus or other scented oil. When the room's got a good head of steam going, the bathers grab bundles of dried birch leaves (vennik), dip them in hot water and, well, beat each other with them. This beating (which isn't violent, and feels a lot better than it sounds) is said to rid your body of toxins.
As one might suspect, all that steam makes the air even hotter, but bathers continue to throw water on until visibility is nil and the room is unbearably hot, at which point everyone runs out coughing.