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||Cultural Tour, Day Hiking
Beyond the initial connotations of Siberia—which may call to mind vast, lonely spaces and icy climes—lie deep riches of nature and culture. And in the midst of this wilderness is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world: Baikal. Baikal comes from the Mongolian word for “nature,” and it’s an apt moniker. Baikal is not only abundant (and varied) in wildlife, it’s also the largest, deepest, and oldest freshwater lake on the planet, containing an astonishing 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. To better illustrate the prodigious volume of this body of water, if Baikal were emptied, all the major rivers in the world&mdashthe Amazon, Ganges, Mississippi, Nile, and Congo together with all the other rivers and streams on earth—would have to flow an entire year or more just to refill it.
We’ve crafted four trip modules to show off Baikal and its surrounding wonders: the jaw-dropping Barguzin Valley, home to waterfalls, gorges, taiga forests, and sand dunes; Olkhon Island, whose stunning coastline offers spectacular views of Lake Baikal; the Circum-Baikal Railway a remarkable feat of early-20th-century engineering; the mystical Holy Nose Peninsula; and an array of unique traditional villages. There are ample options for hiking, hot springs, family visits, and insightful cultural interactions.
Irkutsk and Olkhon Island (4 Days)
Day 1: arrive in Irkutsk • Day 2: drive to Olkhon Island • Day 3: explore north of island, Hoboy Cape, and Uzuri • Day 4: return to Irkutsk.
Lake Baikal's South Shore and the Circum-Baikal Railway (5 Days)
Day 1: arrive in Irkutsk • Day 2: drive to Tankoy • Day 3: hiking in Baikal State Nature Biosphere Reserve • Day 4: by road and train to Port Baikal, lunch with local family, ferry to Listvyanka • Day 5: return to Irkutsk, depart.
Barguzin Valley (7 Days)
Day 1: arrive in Ulan Ude, sightseeing • Day 2: visit Old Believer’s Village • Day 3: drive to Ust-Barguzin, family homestay • Day 4: Barguzin Valley • Day 5: by road to Alla, hiking, shaman ceremony • Day 6: return to Ust-Barguzin, visit Barguzin Village, family homestay • Day 7: return to Ulan Ude, depart.
Holy Nose Peninsula, Ushkanyi Island, and Olkhon Island (7 Days)
Day 1: arrive Ulan Ude, sightseeing • Day 2: visit Old Believer’s Village • Day 3: drive to Ust-Barguzin, family homestay • Day 4: drive to Holy Nose Peninsula, boat to hot springs • Day 5: charter ship to Olkhon Island, nerpa rookery • Day 6: explore north of island, Hoboy Cape, and Uzuri • Day 7: drive to Irkutsk, depart.