Lake Baikal is a must-go on the Trans-Siberian route, being the most attractive and most fascinating place in Siberia. It is the biggest lake in the world for water capacity, more than all the 5 US lakes together. It is also a magical place to visit…
The West coast is the more frequented and it is reachable from Irkutsk by bus. The East coast is reachable from Ulan-Ude. To get to the Northern shore, take the BAM railway until Severobaikalsk. The problem of the Lake is that there is no road that connects all the shores of the lake. So, if you want to go from Listyanka to Olkhon, for instance, you will have to go back to Irkutsk and take a bus from there to the island.
If you take the train from Irkutsk to Ulan-Ude, you will be able to see the lake from the train. We strongly recommend you to do that: the view is amazing! We took the night train and woke up at 5 am to see the sunrise on the Baikal… There are no words to describe how wonderful the view was.
One must-see location on the Baikal is Olkhon Island. To reach it, take a marshrutka from the Irkutsk bus station. The trip lasts from 6 to 8 hours and the schedule of departure changes frequently, so we suggest you go to the station the day before, ask for departure times and book the tickets in advance at the ticket office. The marshrutka will take you to the village of Khuzhir, the only inhabited center of the island. From there, you can go to the beach, visit the Shaman rocks and book tours around the island.
Spoiler alert! If you like surprises, don’t read this!
In our opinion, it is better to go to Olkhon without knowing anything about it, so your experience will be authentic as possible. You just gotta trust us on this one, go there and you’ll see.
However if you want to know something more about the island, check our diary page.
A deserted village, a sandy and rocky panorama, wild cows, horses and stray dogs, no type of night illumination whatsoever: the perfect setting for a horror movie is what’s waiting for you on this amazing island, the 5th center of Shaman Energy in the world.
In winter, until April, the lake is completely frozen, while the ice melts around May. If you go there in the summer, you may even try to put your legs in the water, and, even though Russians even swim in there, we warn you: it is freezing.
What to see
We strongly recommend to take the one-day guided tour around the island. It costs around 800 roubles, but it is really worth it. A old and super-resistent Russian Lada minivan will take you to the Northern point of the island, from where you’ll be able to admire the immensity of the lake and, if you’re lucky, even spot some Nerpa seals resting on the rocks.
Go to the Shaman rocks in Kuzhir, on the Maloye More (Small Sea) shore of the lake. Shamans from all over the world gather here to hold ceremonies and celebrate the energy concentration of this sacred place. Attention: do not touch the “lentochki” (the colourful laces around the trees and sticks) – it is said to bring bad luck.
A good idea while on the island is to rent a bike and ride around the village and the amazing beaches.
The place where most foreigners stay in Olkhon is called “Nikita’s”, a nice guesthouse with a bar, restaurant and curious wooden architecture. Rather expensive but worth it if you want a private bathroom and running water.
Otherwise, if you want to spend less and are apt to adaptation, take a cheap guesthouse in the village (ice-cold showers, no proper toilets, except from some hole in the ground with a disgusting excrement smell, and very bad internet connection). Still, despite the difficulties, we believe it is the best way to enjoy the atmosphere of the island. We stayed at “Bereg Nadezhdi”.
Soon, enjoy your stay here and.. watch out for the cows!