Baikal is the heart of Siberia, and Olkhon is the heart of Baikal. Many thousands of Russian and foreign tourists annually visit this island – on foot, on cars, bicycles, horses … But nothing can be compared with trekking on skates – this is probably one of the most unusual ways of traveling. And for some people who don’t know about this – one of the strangest ways 🙂
You will have a unique opportunity to look at Baikal from an unusual side, cutting through its fabulous ice on special nordic skates.
We are expected to skate over 150 km on the frozen Baikal, nights in a tent under the starry sky; clean smooth ice (but we can’t do without the bad too :)), grottoes, ice patterns, hummocks, cracks. There will also be unforgettable nights right on the ice!
The route is designed in such a way as to see all the most interesting and exclude those places that should not be given much attention. You will visit the Khuzhir settlement – the most popular place on Lake Baikal for many travelers and other enthusiastic people, there is also the famous Shamanka Rock – the visiting card of Lake Baikal; You will see incredible forms of ice splashes on the cliffs of islands and capes, ice grottoes, the legendary Khoboy Cape, Sagan-Khushun, the mysterious island of Ogoy and the Buddhist stupa of Enlightenment at its top. And besides this, there are many other incredibly beautiful places that do not have names on the map, but which do not become less significant due to this! 😉
The route is conventionally divided into two parts: Maloe More – the large strait between Olkhon and the “Big Land”, a place with the highest concentration of islands, ice splashes, but with the greatest concentration of settlements and tourists 🙂 And the Eastern shore of Baikal is a less popular place, but at the same time having a special energy: incredible open spaces, high mountaince, the absence of crowds of tourists 🙂 Each of these places is good in its own way.
Our route (follow the link if you don’t see map below – https://goo.gl/opDygF)
Day 1. February 21, 2019
We will meet in Irkutsk and then go to Khuzhir, where we will spend the night at the guesthouse, share the equipment, walk to Shamanka Rock
Day 2. February 22, 2019
Khuzhir – Peschanaya (20 km)
The first day on skates! We are adapting to a new way to travel, visiting the grottoes on the island Kharantsy, as well as other islands.
Day 3. February 23, 2019
Peschanaya – Khoboy Cape (23 km)
We continue to move on skates, walk at Cape Sagan-Khushun (Three Brothers), famous for its grottoes, sokuyas and red rocks. Overnight at Cape Khoboy right on the ice!
Day 4. February 24, 2019
Khoboy Cape – Root of a mountain Zhima (33 km)
Today we will climb to the viewpoint in Uzury. We will spend the night under the mountain Zhima – the highest point of Olkhon.
Day 5. February 25, 2019
Root of a mountain Zhima – Tashkiney fold (34 km)
We enjoy the wildlife of the eastern part of Olkhon. We admire the accumulation of methane bubbles frozen in the thickness of the ice
Day 6. February 26, 2019
Tashkiney fold – Khuray-Khylzhyn fold (17 km)
Continue to move on remote places of Olkhon
Day 7. February 27, 2019
Khuray-Khylzhyn fold – Ogoy Island (29 km)
Today we will pass through the Strait of Olkhon Gates and return to the Small Sea, see the most famous (after Olkhon) island – Ogoy, on top of which is the famous Buddhist stupa of Enlightenment. Overnight on the island or on the ice near the island.
Day 8. February 28, 2019
Ogoy Island – Kurma (10 km)
Last skating day. We admire the sandy Kurminsky Spit. Overnight stay at the guest house.
Day 9. March 1, 2019
Transfer to Irkutsk
The route can be adjusted depending on the of the ice condition (it may snow), weather conditions (wind), the level of preparation and speed of movement of participants and other circumstances – both during the hike and during the route planning.
To participate you need:
- Average level of skating or cross country skiing skills – you just need to move enough confidently. We will not have a goal to break records, we will skate 20-30 kilometers per day on average.
- Hiking experience. Not necessarily winter hiking, you just need to know something about camp life 🙂
- Average physical conditioning (identical to trekking in the mountains, but the load will be slightly lower)
- Readiness to cold weather and overnight stays in tents (with suitable equipment should not create much discomfort)
Meals during the day
On the route you will have three meals a day. Hot breakfast and dinner, for lunch – snacks with hot tea.
About camp life
Overnights in tents, two nights at the guest houses. On the active part of the route 1-2 nights at the guest houses are possible according to the wishes of the group members and the decision of the guide (on average 10-15 euros per night, not included in the tour price).
All participants take an active part in the life of the camp – they collect firewood, prepare food, set up tents and do other socially useful activities. All public equipment – tents, boilers, gas, food, etc. – is distributed among the participants (20-30% of the volume of the backpack).
Cooking food – mainly on gas burners, if possible – on the fire.
During the active part of the trip, the dry law is in force – drinking alcohol is strictly prohibited, but low volumes are possible last night at the guest house.
How to get to Irkutsk
The best way is to fly to Moscow first. The average cost of air tickets from Moscow to Irkutsk is 200-400 euros round-trip, on the train 150-200 euros (three days trip).
Before purchasing, it is necessary to check the allowed dimensions and weight of the baggage with the airline, as well as to match the arrival time with us. We can help you to find the tickets.
We recommend arriving one day before the start of the hike to avoid the possible delays of the flight, as well as to adapt to the change of time zone
Information on the place and time of meeting of the group will be published later.
We don’t provide the documents for visa, you should get the visa by yourself or through the agency in your country. But in some cases we can try to help you – please contact us.
What is included in the price?
- All transfers according to the program
- Meals on the active part of the route (hot breakfast and dinner, snacks on the lunch)
- Work of the guide
- Consultation on the selection of equipment
- Tent rental
- Accommodation at the guest house on the first and last night
- Permission to visit the national park
- Group registration in the Ministry of Emergency Situations
- Route development
What is not included?
- Air or train tickets
- Skates and poles rent. You can buy skates, or, if there is a demand, we will buy skates for rent, the rental price will be 7 euros / day. Poles must be purchased independently or through an instructor. More information in the section “List of equipment”
- Sledge rent (10 euros per trip)
- Insurance (extreme) / for winter sports (tourism, skates)
- Accommodation in Irkutsk (from 7 euros per night)
- Personal equipment (if you do not have the necessary equipment, and buying new equipment is expensive, ask your friends or rent your city)
- Food in Irkutsk, Khuzhir, Sakhyrta, Khurma
- Unexpected expenses
- Nordic skates
There are two types: with bindings for nordic ski boots and universal with bindings for trekking boots (similar to snowboarding). We do not recommend ski boots, because sometimes you will need to walk on the hummocks and, in case of precipitation, in the snow. And the probability of breakage of ski bindings is much higher. We will tell you where to buy skates.
Otherwise you can rent skates for 50 euros per trip.
Ideally, these are ski poles with the length equal your height minus 15-25cm. You will push more effectively than with short poles. Although it may seem easier to beginners with shorter ones. The tips should be hardmetal or carbide; if they are ordinary steel then you need to sharpen / replace them. You can use trekking poles, but then be sure to replace the standard tips, otherwise the poles will slip on the ice. Where to buy – we’ll tell
If you do not have the opportunity to transport poles on an airplane because of its size, we can assist you in buying the poles. The cost of sticks is approximately 20-25 euros.
You will carry all equipment in sledges. The rent will cost 10 euros per trip. You also can buy them and mount the bindings
Helmet, knee pads, elbow pads – optional. If you do not feel confident enough, or you haven’t previously skated on nordic skates, we recommend taking and using at least in the first days to get used to the technique of skating and uneven ice
- Ice studs
Rubber covers with spikes for the shoes to walk on the ice. Sold in fishing, tourist shops
- Backpack. Volume is not less than 80-90 liters. Backpack cover – optional
- Sleeping bag. Best of all are two warm sleeping bags (ideal – down bag inside, synthetic bag outside), or one very warm for a comfort temperature of -15 … -20 degrees Celsium (an example of synthetic – Marmot Trestles 0)
- Sleeping mat. Two foam type (preferably new, not thin), or foam mat plus an inflatable mat
- Foam seat mat
- Mup, spoon, bowl, knife
- Rescue blanket
- Headlamp with spare batteries
- Thermos (at the rate of 0.6-0.7 liters of water per person per running day)
- Water tank (plastic bottle, flask, etc.)
- Lighter and matches in sealed packaging
- Sunscreen (SPF 40+)
- Individual first-aid kit (hygienic lipstick, plaster, activated carbon, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, wound care agent, elastic bandage, individual preparations). The guide will carry the main first aid kit
- Personal Care Products
- Documents, money
- Rope 5-7 meters with 5mm thickness
- Small towel
- Plastic bags or light dry bags for clothes
- Surprise. Something tasty – to treat your friends at the right time 🙂
Windproof clothes is a must – pants, jacket with hood, mask covering the nose and mouth, hat, balaclava, gloves; warm down jacket; second pair of warm shoes for a bivouac. Gloves (minimum 2 sets), mittens. On the Internet you can find a lot of information on equipment for winter trips (ski trips, simple climbing). Clothing for hiking on Lake Baikal roughly corresponds to this layout.
- Trekking shoes. It is very important that there is free space in the shoes, even if you are wearing thick woolen socks!
- Warm boots for the camp (i.e. with EVA material)
- Windproof jacket
- Windproof pants
- Set of lightweight thermal underwear
- Warm set of clothes under the top layer (fleece, Polartec, etc.)
- T-shirt – 1-2 pieces
- Warm fleece for camp
- Warm down jacket
- Warm pants (down or synthetic)
- Set of warm clothes for sleeping
- Mask on the face (balaclava), windproof
- Gloves and mittens for different temperatures – 2-3 pairs (non-wool)
- Gloves for camping (for carring woods etc.)
- Underwear – 2-3 sets
- Socks – thin and thick for different temperatures, incl. thick wool socks. Total 3-4 pairs
- Shoe covers – optional
- Sunglasses or ski mask (UV protection cat. 4)
The author of the tour is Evgeny Dubinchuk – a great lover of travel and travel photography, the winner in the nomination “The Best Trip of the Year” in the bike travel competition “Bike Trips 2014”, the author of the big FAQ on ice skating tours on Baikal.
The routes were compiled on the basis of three trips in 2014, 2015 and 2018, in which more than 1,000 kilometers were skated on the lake.
You can read about these trips on dubinchuk.com (in russian, for english please use translator):
2018 – coming soon 🙂
Short movie from our trip in 2014.