THE BEST TIME TO GO TO BAIKAL
Every season offers something unique for a traveller on a trip to Lake Baikal. For example, those willing to experience Russian winter; do winter sports on thick ice, wheeze through Russian Taiga on dog-sled, or engage in ice-fishing should go there in winter, which lasts from October to April.
Note that you can go over the lake’s frozen surface from early February till mid April.
Those eager for lakeside strolls are advised to come from May to late June, when everything assumes new colors. Later the warm weather is coming and it is possible to swim, even though the water is still chilly. Brief autumn is the best season for photography buffs, when the melancholic yellow appears on the trees.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN BAIKAL
Baikal is the pearl of the Russian Orient. It brings to view amazing views of the dark blue waters with crested waves, with peaky mountains and pristine Taiga forest in the the background. In its center is Olkhon Island, a Buddhist sacred place offering peace and seclusion to those desirous to commune with nature or practice Buddhism. It is home to Khuzhir, the kinetic capital of the island, and a number of more tranquil settlements.
If willing to find a place of spiritual retreat, with all the amenities at that, head there. If willing to have a comfortable leisure somewhere closer to Irkutsk and onshore, for example go to the Russian steam bath, have leisurely strolls, and engage in outdoors sports, make it to Listvyanka, a choice place of retreat for the most jaded of the travellers due to its scenic landscapes and lakeviews.
Otherwise enjoy throbbing urban life in Irkutsk, one of the fastest developing cities in Russia, with unique architectural heritage and history. On your Siberia tour don’t forget to eat delicious Buryat cuisine: Buhler, a lamb-bone soup, buuzy, meat-filled dumplings, dairy products, which can make up both 1st, 2nd, and 3rd courses, and steaming Buryat herbal and green tea.
ACCOMODATION IN BAIKAL
If in Irkutsk you can find lodgings that suit almost anybody, from the most demanding set-jetter, to the weather-beaten backpacker travelling on the shoestring; the same can’t be said about the rest of the lakeside. Olkhon Island and Listvyanka also offer a number of hotels, as well as a burgeoning industry of mini-hotels and guest-houses, even though the number of the options is smaller. If venturing further inland or to the least accessible parts of the land adjacent to the lake, such as nature reserves, expect to rough it, and camp outside.
Tip! To have information about what to take along read Top 10 tips to visit Lake Baikal.
TRAVELLING AROUND LAKE BAIKAL
You can travel the lakeside by regular buses, taxis and even bicycle. To get to Olkhon Island you can use the ferry, which runs between Malomorskaya Turbaza area and Olkhon Island before the first ice on the lake; also by ferry it is possible to travel all-year-round between Port Baikal and Listvyanka; and between Balagansk-Igzhei, Svirksk-Kamenka before 2 November and 15 November, accordingly.
You can get to Olkhon in winter either by car and snowmobiles over ice (permitted only after January) or hovercraft. Don’t miss out on riding on a hovercraft, a speedy, and what is more, memorable way to move around. For other special experiences such as helicopter, speed-boat, yacht Pradiz is always glad to assist you.