Lake Baikal is a must-see destination for any traveler visiting Russia. The lake, located in Siberia, is the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, making it a popular spot for outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking. This guide will explore some of the best things to do and see at Lake Baikal, including two outdoor activities, two must-see places, and one unusual tip for making the most of your trip.
One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Lake Baikal is by hiking along its many trails. There are a variety of trails to choose from, ranging from easy, flat paths to more challenging, steep routes. Some popular trails include the Great Baikal Trail, which offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains, and the Olkhon Island Trail, which takes you through dense forests and along the lake’s rocky coastline.
Another great way to explore Lake Baikal is by kayak. The lake is home to a number of rental companies that offer kayaks and equipment, as well as guided tours. Kayaking on Lake Baikal is a unique experience, as the lake is so large that you can often feel like you’re the only person on it. Some popular routes include the Olkhon Island to the Maloye More (the Small Sea), and the Bolshoye Goloustnoye to the Maloye More.
This is the largest island on Lake Baikal and is home to several ancient shamanic sites, including Khoboy Cape, considered the lake’s spiritual center. The Olkhon island is also known for its beautiful landscapes, including sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and dense forests. Visitors can also take a boat tour to see the famous Baikal seals.
This charming village is located on the shores of Lake Baikal and is a great spot for visitors looking to experience traditional Russian culture. Visitors can enjoy traditional Russian cuisine, visit the local market, or take a boat tour to see the famous Baikal nerpa (seals). The Listvyanka village also has a number of museums, including the Baikal Museum, which offers visitors a chance to learn more about the lake and its history.
One unusual tip for visiting Lake Baikal is to take a dip in the lake’s icy waters. Although it may seem daunting, taking a dip in the lake is a traditional Russian practice and is said to have health benefits. Visitors can also try the “walrus” or “polar bear” swimming. This is a traditional Russian way of swimming in cold water, where you submerge yourself in the water and stay there for a short period of time. It’s a great way to experience the lake’s icy waters and feel like a true Siberian.
The Baikal Limnological Museum
This unique museum is located on the shores of Lake Baikal and is dedicated to studying the lake’s flora, fauna, and geology. The museum is home to several exhibits showcasing the lake’s diverse ecosystem, including a replica of an underwater cave and a collection of Baikal seals. Visitors can also take a boat tour from the museum to see the famous Baikal nerpa (seals) in their natural habitat.
The Baikal Ice Road
This unique road is only open during winter and offers visitors a chance to experience the lake’s frozen surface. The road is located on the southern shore of Lake Baikal and is only accessible by car or snowmobile. Visitors can take a guided tour to see the frozen lake, stop at ice fishing huts, and even try their hand at ice fishing.
Hostel Baikal this option is a great choice for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. The hostel is located in the town of Listvyanka, on the shores of Lake Baikal, and offers dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms. Guests can enjoy a shared kitchen and common room, as well as access to Wi-Fi.
Baikal Guesthouse – This is an option that offers comfortable and clean accommodation in a traditional Russian-style house. The guesthouse is located in the town of Listvyanka and offers rooms with private bathrooms and shared kitchen facilities. Guests can also enjoy a sauna and outdoor terrace and access to Wi-Fi.
Hotel Mayak is a luxurious hotel located in Irkutsk, about an hour’s drive from Lake Baikal. It offers elegant and spacious rooms with a private bathroom, as well as a restaurant serving Russian and European cuisine. The hotel also features a spa and wellness center, a fitness center, and a swimming pool.
Belka-Hotel is a luxurious boutique hotel located in Listvyanka, just a few minutes’ walk from Lake Baikal. The hotel’s restaurant serves delicious local cuisine, and guests can also enjoy the hotel’s spa and wellness center, which features a sauna, a hot tub, and massage treatments. Additionally, the hotel offers a range of outdoor activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and dog sledding in the winter, and hiking, biking, and horseback riding in the summer.
In conclusion, Lake Baikal is a unique destination that offers visitors a chance to experience Russia’s natural beauty, traditional culture, and unique history. Whether you’re interested in hiking, kayaking, or simply taking in the stunning views, Lake Baikal is a must-see destination for any traveler visiting Russia. Don’t forget to visit Olkhon Island, Listvyanka village, and take a dip in the lake’s icy waters for an unusual experience.