AROUND BAIKAL LAKE
Irkutsk is situated very close to Baikal, it streches along the Trans-Siberian railway. It's a great city to stop for a few days. It will take you 6 hours to get there by plane from Moscow or 98 hours by train. History of the city began in 1760 when the first road between Moscow and the new city was built. Due to the road construction, many new products, often imported from China, became widely available in Irkutsk: gold, diamonds, furs, wood, silk and tea. In 1821, Irkutsk became the seat of the Governor-General of East Siberia. In the XIX century after having discovered rich deposits here, Irkutsk became a center of gold-mining production. The city had grown rich. Rich churches, mansions and trade institutions were being built. It even got the name “Siberian Paris”. Today Irkutsk has become a college town with many young people studying at the university and other institutes of higher education in the city, commercial, administrative and also a cultural center with population over 600 thousand citizens.
During summer time a Baikal cruise is very popular with foreign tourists. The duration is 4-5 days. While cruising one can be acquainted with the following local places of interest:
Sandy Bay is the most popular place on Baikal, there are "Stilt" trees that grow here while wind and water constantly blow and wash away the sand from under their roots - that's why the roots remind of stilts. Beneath the bay you will go to the cape Sagan-Khushun, local people called these three rocks -"Three brothers". The cliffs of Sagan-Khushun are on the list of the natural heritage sites of Baikal.
Ogoi Island, on top of which is the Buddhist stupa, which was erected by volunteers in 2005.
In Buddhism Stupas denote the mountain connecting the earth, sky and space. Ogoi Island is a free of negative energy place, clear land. The stupa of enlightenment is on the top of the island (512m) at the height of 50m above the Baikal level. Buddhists believe the oftener you go around sacred places like stupa the more possibilities that made wishes would come true. They also believe that if you go around the stupa for 108 times it is a guaranteed absolution. Our guide will give you the details and peculiarities of visiting the stupa.
Olhon Island. There are also many islands on Lake Baikal (about 45 islands and islets). The most popular is the island of Olkhon, a large island with several villages and 700 square kilometers in area. It is called the heart of Baikal as it is situated right in the middle of the lake and has the same shape as Baikal. Olhon is the historical and sacred center of Baikal. It is a focus of early legends and historical traditions, but at the same time famous for its pristine beauty. Olkhon is a region of forests and grasslands that supports deer, brown bears, and a wide range of birds. It is the energetic and sacral centre. There is a great number of interesting legends about the island, local people – buryats, the spirits of this place, landlord of Olkhon and ect. Here you will feel the real pure energy of Baikal. There are no dangerous beasts of pray on the island, no mosquitos or midges. Olkhon is included in the territory of the National Park.
Chivyrkuy Bay, the second largest bay of Lake Baikal, which is situated in the northeast of the lake. The bay is not deep, and the southern end of it is the shallowest. Due to its shallowness, the water in Chivyrkuy Bay is warmed up well in summer. The water temperature reaches 20-22C, and in the southern part of the bay it can be even warmer. Nature of this unique corner has created conditions necessary for a summer holiday: cosy wind-sheltered lagoons, clean sandy beaches and warm transparent water. The entire territory of the bay is included in the protected zone of the National Park. Usually tourists coming to Chivyrkuy Bay cannot but visit Snake Bay (8 km off settlement Kurbulik) where there is a thermal natural spring of the same name. The flow rate of the spring is 20 m3/day with water temperature from +39 to +42ºC. Two log cabins have been built here for bathing. The water, which is rich in hydrocarbon and sulphate-sodium, is used for treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.
Cape Khoboy on the Olkhon Island is situated near the widest point of Baikal Lake - 79,5 km. One can understand why Baikal is compared sometimes with a sea. Cape Khoboy (in Buryat “khoboy” means a canine tooth) is the most northern cape on Olkhon Island. On Khoboy it is possible to see the rock with a female face. According to one of the legends, this is the face of a woman who asked Gods for a beautiful and a large palace, for she was turned into the rock. Cape Khoboy has become a popular place for meditation. The place produces remarkable, multiple echoes which resonate around the rock. When exploring the caves in winter, one can view amazing ice formations and transparent icicles. In the cliffs at water level, there are caves up to 22 meters (or 72 feet) long.