We all know how beautiful Baikal is, any time of the year. But during winter, it turns into a fantastic, prehistoric animal that seems to come to life. Why such a definition? Huge grottoes, layers of ice of a typically white but sometimes dark-blue color, with countless air bubbles, which features splits in some places from where unusual sounds may emanate, that echo the times when they formed and travel through the pacifying silence that ensued... Such splits, by the way, can reach up to 30 kilometers in length! In the midst of a seemingly eternal winter, a clear blue sky would surely catch your eye. As you know, among other lakes, Baikal is the one with the cleanest water, so the ice looks like polished glass. We advise you to come at the end of winter, or even in March, when the lake freezes best. The thickness of the ice often reaches 1.5 meters. The surface is often uneven, due to hefty blocks, the highest of which can be up to 12 meters high. Also, there are sokui - natural sculptures, formed in the coastal rocks.
Jeep tours, hole fishing, ice skating, picnics on the lake and snowmobile rides are but a part of a wide range of activities that can be offered to entertain visitors to Baikal. There are many options for traveling around the lake, but motor transport is considered the best. Besides the fact that it is convenient, cozy and warm, the hovercraft “Hivus” can deliver you to the most remote places of Baikal, there where you can see all the many faces of this local beauty. There is only one permitted route, which is recommended by numerous experienced tourists. So if you want to improvise and go off the beaten track, we advise you to be extremely careful. In fact, all roads, exception made for the one we suggest you take, are dangerous due to the presence of huge cracks and blocks. The path you are allowed on is confirmed at an official level, and the route goes as far as the island of Olkhon.
It is best to take a tour from a trip agency, which, besides regular walks, may also include dog sledding, experiencing a Russian banya, camping on ice and many other activities! Plus, you can request to be accompanied by a guide or a driver. Do not forget that Baikal is essentially one large ice rink. This is the most suitable place for winter sports. Typically, many tourists drive to the small town of Listvyanka to do that. The lake has the smoothest surface there, and many resorts and hotels are present on the shore. If you travel with children and worry about their safety, many tourist camps are ready to offer personal skating rinks on their territories. As for walking, some desperate tourists are tempted to walk the entire length of the lake. Many people succeed, despite the fact that such a walk requires tremendous stamina and special skills. But if you are willing to take a chance anyway, then you are guaranteed to get an amazing adventure you will forever treasure.
How do you get there? Naturally, it all starts with Irkutsk. There are two ways: a train and a plane. The train goes along the Trans-Siberian railway. If you decide to opt for the plane, it's better to fly from Moscow, as there is a large selection of flights every day departing from and arriving at the Russian capital, which cannot be said about other major cities. If you don't feel like organizing your own trip, then you're better off contacting an agency. This is often much faster and more profitable than preparing it yourself. Prices obviously vary, and usually depend on the inclusion of additional activities in the tour, as well as on the route complexity.
Stop gaping at the pictures now! The highest quality photograph can never compare to reality. The screen of your computer / phone will not convey the breathtaking feeling you get when you're actually there, inhaling fresh air and looking at the bright light that reflects from the white crystal ice of the lake. Go see it and feel it for yourself!