Travel to Lake Baikal like a local. This video tells you how to get to Listvyanka village from Irkutsk. It is just one hour ride and costs 120 RUB per person one way. More information and helpful details in this video.
When we came back from kayak trip, my friend told me that I’m #(*&^ crazy. Well, yes, but we are crazy in a good and safe way.
My firiend let me use 2 person kayak for a little adventure on lake Baikal. We started early in the morining from Irkutsk. Picked up kayak in Bolshaya Rechka, went to Listvyanka, had breakfast, put kayak on the water loaded it with all the stuff.
After that I went to Belka Hostel and parked my car on the territory. Then walked down Chapaev street where Natasha was waiting for me reading her book.
We sailed for an hour. Meeting nerpa, Baikal seal, was unusual. It was sleeping on the water with only it’s small head on the surface. It woke up only when kayak was 2 meters away from it. Blinked it’s black eyes, sneezed at us and went under water. My camera was away, so sorry, no pictures.
After taking a nap on the shore we were trying to get back on the road, but I flipped it over. My bad. First time kayaking with no instructor, so this was expected. It is like a initiation to ‘kayaker’s club’. Camera, phone, money, documents and all important stuff was wet. But not lost. Now I understand what must be kept in dry box of kayak. All the things that got wet. But our box was full of food and there was no extra place. Ha-ha! First hand experience. Now I understand the value of instructors and guides.
I was in a hurry to get into kayak, because the water is so cold that it hurts feet when you are just few seconds in the water, the stones are slippery and I was not wearing proper footwear for this trip. Remember don’t be bear feet when kayaking. Wear at least rubber slippers.
2 hours more and we reached Bolshiye Koty village where we camped, cooked on fire and went to bed very early as we were extremetly tired.
Camping was great. We put our tent near the water stream that flows into the lake and had the source of fresh water. Also the sound of the stream was providing with calming and natural atmosphere. Bolshiye Koty village is small and has almost no cars, very quiet and relaxing.
Next day we woke up. Cooked food. Packed and started to pedal back. Now I get the idea of how to get inside the kayak and thought about my mistakes. I can teach anybody. Also we understood how to pedal properly. The weather was perfect both days. First day it was wind to the back and second day there was no wind at all and it was hot!
When we reached Listvyanka the shore was full of people. It was great hot summer days. People were greeting us from land, ships and boats. It was lovely. We felt like heroes.
40 kilometers total there and back. It is great for beginners, but it is not too easy. Thank you lake Baikal for your beauty and thanks to everybody who instructed and supported us.
Irkutsk city is the gate to lake Baikal. Starting by exploring the city and its surroundings it turns into search of the way to get to the lake, to Listvyanka.
This is a small village 60 kilometers from Irkutsk on the shore of the lake. Cozy, compact and full of places to visit and stay. What is the most important here? Lake Baikal Museum with cool aquarium and great guides. Dog farm where you can get a ride and visit real Russian blacksmith workshop. Local fish and suvenir market and other cool places that can make someone miss the last minibus back to Irkutsk.
After that one just wants to see more and just can’t get enough. So the road leads to more distant but closer to the lake place. Olkhon Island is the biggest and only inhabitant and tiny town of Khuzhir is waiting for travelers all year round.
March is the best time to go to the island across the ice driving a car or minibus. Frozen lake opens a full spectrum of ice roads that can be taken to the places not available in summer.
During few days it is possible to exlore a huge variety of different destinations around Olkhon Island. Fresh air, adventures on ice, great company of fellow travelers, warm welcoming hosts and great fresh local food. Simple, healthy and fun times guaranteed.
Visiting Irkutsk can be fun, but it’s even more impressive to take a 3 day tour to Olkhon Island. At first it’s 5 hour ride on a minibus, including 2 kilometer drive across ice to reach the island.
After arriving and checking into hotel its nice to ralax and explore surrounding area on foot a little bit, have a dinner. Next morning wake up to have a great walk before ice safari starts.
Weather is usually sunny and you get to see sunlight playing with Baikal ice and landscape. Some people go on foot, but we prefer old style offroad minivans that local ice captains run across snow deserts.
Even there was a great outdoor lunch during ice trip, eating dinner will be the top priority. Excited, it is easy to get tired fast. Local steam cooked buns and bakery with various fillings will keep you up and running. The food is simple and mostly natural.
There are plenty of spots to warm up, eat and socialise. There is a post office, few shops, bicycle rental and many guesthouses. Electricity appeared here only in 2005, so the place is still developing. People are very kind and welcoming.