russia_around_baikal_winter

NO LIMIT JOURNEYS

Incredible Experience Designer

AROUND BAIKAL WINTER EXPEDITION

DRIVING ON WATER, travelling in a live museum

Summary:

Few are the places on earth where man can walk (and drive) on fresh water! The deepest and biggest fresh water reserve in the world turns into our icy playground for this expedition. It is the biggest freshwater 'ice rink' in the world, and its landscape is as varied as you can imagine: cliffs, estuaries, islands, bays, low lands, beaches. The clear ice, broken and intertwined icebergs, overlapping lips and surface snow are few elements of this ever changing environment: it is a majestic sight that resembles more of a magical film set than real nature.

This expedition will zigzag between land and the lake, reaching some amazing sites (that can only be reached by boat normally), penetrating the soul of remote villages and access vital only opened in winter supply route for the region.

This new exclusive offroad expedition around lake Baikal is an unforgettable 10 day adventure, a rare journey.

 

 

Highlights:

  • Discovery one of the wildest and the least “touristy” part of the lake
  • Observe incredible natural ice sculptures
  • Drive along sections of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur Mainlines.
  • Sensational 2000km loop
  • Visit Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude two regional capitals
  • Drive more than 400km on the frozen lake
  • Visit the Old Believers’ village
  • Visit Ivolginsky Datsan, the Center of Buddism in Russia
  • Spend a night in a fishermen’s yurts on the ice
  • Bathe in hot springs along the coast

 

 

Why choose us:

Fascinated by Russia from the early on, we have undertaken beautiful and amazing journeys in Siberia ranging from research expeditions to leisure travels. We partner with the best Russian inbound adventure agency called Baikal Nature as they have repeatedly demonstrated a high level of service, creativity, reliability and always supported our never ending appetite for adventures over the last 8 years.

 

 

Departure Date:

03 March 2019

 

 

Duration:

10 days

 

 

Group Meeting Point:

Irkutsk International Airport, Russia.

 

 

Who can go?

a.Min age: anybody

b.Physical condition: No particular physical condition is required.

c.You will need to:

  • enjoy cold weather
  • enjoy snowy and icy environments
  • be aware that days are short in winter
  • be thrilled by adventure and remoteness

d.Group size: min 3 max 12 pax. + 1 guide

 

 

Journey Hardship Rating (1 to 10):

Overall = 2 /10

  • Difficulty = 2
  • Isolation = 3
  • Danger = 1

 

 

This activity involves (%):

Transport: Walking = 20% 4wd = 80%

Survival skills = 0%

Orienteering = 0%

Group Autonomy = 10%

 

 

Schedule:

This itinerary is an overview of what you will do during this 10 day experience. The order of activities may change depending on weather and other conditions.

Day 1

IRKUTSK

 

Arrival in Irkutsk. Transfer to the hotel. Check-in. Meeting with the guide at the hotel at 1pm. Lunch at the restaurant. After lunch, walking tour of the historical city-centre with your guide. For several hours you will be immersed in this particular atmosphere that makes Irkutsk such a unique city: the old churches, the southern docks of the Angara river, the wooden houses of the old city and the central market. Diner and night at the hotel.

 

Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Transport: Private car / bus

Planned accommodation / or similar: Empire Hotel

Accommodation type: Hotel

Comfort: Comfortable accommodation, WC and bath / shower in room

 

Day 2

IRKUTSK-ZHIGALOVO

 

After breakfast, departure for Zhigalovo through Kachug track, where the endless steppe of Ust-Orda opens on the forest and the wild taiga. We will go through the « Winter Road », that is only passable in winter when the temperatures are the lowest. When the ground warms up again, it becomes an inaccessible mud track. All along the day, we will stop in various picturesque locations, including for lunch and dinner (in a café along the road - not included). We will take a moment to discover the widely known Shushensky petroglyphs. Arrival in Zhigalovo in the evening, accommodation at the 'tourist base' - motel-, as they are called here.

 

*total mileage of the day: 391 km

Meals Included: Breakfast

Transport: 4х4

Accommodation type: Bungalow resort (motel)

Comfort: Comfortable accommodation, shared WC and bathrooms.

 

Day 3

ZHIGALOVO - GOUDZHEKIT

 

Departure for the hot springs of Goudzhekit. Breakfast in a café along the road (not included). This part of route will follow the popular BAM railway (Baikal-Amur Mainline), one of the biggest railroad in the world. Its construction began in 1938 and goes through the country for 4287km. This mainline was mainly built by prisoners from the labour camps, then, by volunteers. This is an opportunity to see a rare part of Russia’s History. Arrival at the tourist base in the evening. Check-in dinner. Free time to enjoy the hot springs (not included). Located in the floodplains of Goudzhekit they come out of the ground at a temperature of 50°C. They are well known for their rich silica acids and alkalis properties. Overnight at the 'base'.

 

*mileage of the day: about 390 km

Meals Included: Dinner

Transport: 4х4

Accommodation type: Bungalow resort (motel)

Comfort: Comfortable accommodation, WC and bath / shower in room

 

Day 4

GOUDZHEKIT - SEVEROBAYKALSK - KHAKUSI

 

After breakfast, departure for the Baikal's shore. We will go through the city of Severobaykalsk, where we will have a short stop to visit the city-centre and the train station. Severobaykalsk at the far north of the lake is the most populated town on the Baikal coast and is surrounded by the rocky ridges of the lake. Then, we will head East to Khakusi hot springs by crossing the lake on the ice! During one of the stops on the lake, we will picnic. Arrival and check-in at the 'base' in Khakusi. Diner and overnight at the 'base'.

 

*total mileage of the day: about 83km

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Transport: 4х4

Planned accommodation / or similar: Laskovy Bereg Resort

Accommodation type: chalet/ Bungalow

Comfort: Comfortable accommodation, shared WC and bathrooms.

 

Day 5

KHAKUSI

 

Breakfast. Free day in Khakusi, a remote hotspring & spa camp inaccessible by road any other times of the year. It is a well known 'resort' for its hot springs and their naturally hot waters. It is also an opportunity for you to bathe in outdoor pools, surrounded by snow and below 0°c while the water is above 45°c. These hotsprings are known to be medicinal waters and locals come here to rest and re invigorate thanks to the beautiful and wild surrounds. Lunch and dinner at the resort.

 

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Planned accommodation / or similar: Laskovy Bereg Resort

Accommodation type: Resort

Comfort: Comfortable accommodation, Shared WC and bathrooms

 

Day 6

KHAKUSI - CHIVYRKUYSKY GULF

 

After breakfast, we will continue our route on the frozen lake. We will drive on the lake in the open zigzagging between frozen scuptures. We will stop to Pic-nic on the ice. In the afternoon, arrival at the Chivyrkuysky. We will spend the night in a fishermen’s yurts near the lake. Diner and overnight in the yurts.

 

*total mileage of the day: about 203 km

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Transport: 4х4

Accommodation type: Yurt

Comfort: Simple comfort accommodation, toilet outdoors

 

Day 7

CHIVYRKUYSKY GULF - UST-BARGUZIN

 

Breakfast. Today, we carry on the road to Ust-Barguzin. If the ice is safe enough, you will have the opportunity to go around the Sviatoy Nos peninsula and the island of Uchkani. Pic-nic outside, ice quality dependant. Arrival in Ust-Barguzin in the evening. Bania (Russian traditional sauna/bath) and night at a guest house.

 

*total mileage of the day: about 130 km

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Transport: 4х4

Accommodation type: Homestay

Comfort: Simple comfort accommodation, dry closet indoors, bania

 

Day 8

UST-BARGUZIN - ULAN-UDE

 

After breakfast, we get back on the road to Ulan-Ude, capital city of the Republic of Buryatia, and up to recent time closed city to foreigners. We will be driving through a scenic landscape where the Taiga slowly ends t the steppes. Part of the itinerary will follow the Baikal shores to the south and we will visit of the Old Believers’ village of Tarbagatay. There, you will be offered a traditional Buryat meal by the local people as well as a folklore show. We will additionally stop at Ivolginsky Datsan, a Buddhist complex located in the middle of the steppe, away from the city. This Dastan is very important in the Buryat culture and is also the heart of the Buddhist faith in Russia. We make our way back to Ulan-Ude, and check-in the hotel. If there is enough time, we will take promenade of the city-centre. Dinner at the restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.

 

*total mileage of the day : about 425 km

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Transport: 4х4

Planned accommodation / or similar: Geser Hotel

Accommodation type: Hotel

Comfort: Comfortable accommodation, WC and bath / shower in room

 

Day 9

ULAN-UDE - IRKUTSK

 

After breakfast, departure for Irkutsk. This road will meet with the trans siberian railway and follow the most southern coast of the Baikal lake. Lunch in a café along the road (not included). Arrival in Irkutsk in the afternoon. Festive farewell dinner, night at the hotel.

 

*total mileage of the day: about 459 km

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Transport: 4х4

Planned accommodation / or similar: Empire Hotel

Accommodation type: Hotel

Comfort: Comfortable accommodation, WC and bath / shower in room

 

Day 10

IRKUTSK

 

After breakfast, transfer to the airport. End of the program.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Transport: Private car / bus

 

 

 

Weather / local conditions

This region is characterized by an extreme variation of temperatures between seasons. It can be very warm in the summer, and very cold in the winter. However, Lake Baikal has its effect, such that temperatures are not as extreme as elsewhere in Siberia. The coldest month of the year is January, when the average temperature is −18 °C (0 °F), and record low of −49.7 °C (−57.5 °F). The driest month is February, when precipitation averages only 7.6 millimeters (0.30 in). Almost all precipitation during the Siberian winter falls as flurry, low moisture content snow. Most days have clear skies by the lake when fog has lifted.

 

Accommodation

Hotel like accommodation, bungalows and camping

 

 

Food

Traditional local food, is made of meat or fish, with potatoes, onions. Often in stews and soup. Supplemented by local hearty Buuz (big raviolis), pancakes with sour cream, or simply milky tea, soup from mutton, house noodles and also Salamat. We will also enjoy smoked trout and fish eggs. Food in Russia is delicious, homely, filling but not necessarily very refined. It is good but not delicate. Drinking alcohol with locals in Russia is a 'dangerous game', as most westerners have none of the drinking tradition that Russian have. You are warned!

 

 

Transport

For your transportation during the trip we provide specially equipped off-road vehicles - Toyota Land Cruiser, known for their power and manoeuvrability. Airport transfers will be done in private taxi vans.

 

 

What to expect

This expedition is travelling on an ever changing surface: the lake's ice sheet. Below your wheels 1500m of fresh water, and in some areas, you can see through it like a car window. The light is has this unique shine and the sky is depth that you had not seen. When overnighting in some of the 'resort', you will be able to enjoy the therapeutic water of hotspring that reaches up to 50 degrees. The cultural experience really takes it full grip when you will spend a night in a true fisherman's yurt: you will realise how local people have resisted for such long time, in such harsh climate and life conditions. A true insight. It will also be a rare occasion to travel to the largest peninsula on lake Baikal, enjoy the unforgettable views of giant ice hummocks (up to 5m high). And your understand of old Tasr vs russian politics will take a leap when visiting the Old Believers village of Tarbagatay. For the more spiritual ones, visiting datsan Ivolginsk (the centre of Buddhism in Russia) will also mark the transition to the asian part of the continent nation that is Russia. We strive to take of glimpse of the evasive nerpas, the famous lake Baikal endemic seals.

No trip to russia could be considered full if you were not to see the Trans-Siberian railway. We will not drive the 9200 km rather join its great route for a short but picturesque section along the shore of lake Baikal. And we will do the same in the north with the BAM, the Baikal-Amur Mainline which construction began in 1938 and was carried out mainly by prisoners of correctional camps.

 

 

Safety and security

We take safety very seriously. There are no major risks but the ones inherent to a journey (body injuries, weather, incidents, etc.). We minimise these risks by preparing for them. But the best is to act mindfully and carefully during the trip. The area is well known to your experienced leader/guide, and the route could differ depending on local conditions. Should an incident happen, protocols are established and your guide will ensure your prompt safety. This region of Russia is quite safe.

 

 

Remark:

  • itinerary can be privatised
  • one English speaking guide for up to 12 people
  • total number of vehicles is 4
  • if there are less than 3 persons per car, the price of the expedition will be recalculated
  • all the meals are included in the price of the program, except for: breakfasts on the 1st and 3rd days, lunches on the 2nd, 9th and 10th days as well as the diners on the 2nd and 10th days.
  • access to the hot springs in Goudzhekit is not included (200 rubles per person)

 

 

Cost:

per person in a group of 3 per car = AUD $3990

Single Supplement: +AUD $400pp

 

 

 

16.Inclusions and exclusions

a.inclusions

  • Transfers in Irkutsk
  • English-speaking guide
  • Accommodation as per itinerary
  • Transport as per itinerary
  • Medical insurance
  • Excursions and visits as per itinerary
  • Letter of invitation
  • Sleeping bag rental
  • Ice cleats

 

 

b.exclusions

  • Personal expenses and tips
  • Meals excluded: breakfasts on the 1st and 3rd days, lunches on the 2nd, 9th and 10th days as well as the diners on the 2nd and 10th days.
  • Visa fees and travel insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Ski rental
  • Cold weather gear rental (jacket/pants)
  • Airline tickets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should you have any questions please contact us

iwanttogo@nolimitjourneys.com

 

Map of Baikal Lake
Abandoned city of Kadykchan, built for miners by convicts.
Abandoned city of Kadykchan, built for miners by convicts.
Finding our way along rivers and hills in Kolyma

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