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Wintry Lake Baikal & Barguzin Valley – Sacred Lands of the Thousand Spirits

Day 1. Irkutsk city – Small Sea – Olkhon Island.
Arrival to Irkutsk by morning flight. Breakfast at the café and departure to Lake Baikal on a highway to the Olkhon Island area. (approx. 300 km).
In about 3 hour drive we will get to the shore of Lake Baikal and start our challenging ice driving trip.  First we will drive across the Olkhon’s Gate straight and get close to island. First stop would be taken at one of the most spectacular local place – Horse Head Cape. This is long, deeply sticking out cape has overhanging rocky walls with ice grottos. From here we will enter a Small Sea – part of Lake Baikal framed by mountains of Baikal’s western shore and Olkhon Island. This area is famous for its small picturesque islands. We will take a special stopover at the picturesque island Ogoy, which has a Buddhist monument. We will walk to the top of the island to take close look tell on the monument and colorful pray flags decorating this area. Here your guide will tell you about Buddhism religion and suggest you to do a traditional circle walk around the monument.
Later on will discover fascinating ice caves and other islands of the Small Sea between the island Olkhon and the mainland. Along the driving route we will take a number of stopovers for trekking on ice and taking pictures of beautiful islands of the Small Sea.

Upon arriving on Olkhon Island, you´ll see local port with many frozen ships and rocky Cape Burhan, which is still a sacred spot for all local Shamans. This cape has cave in it, with a help of the guide you could climb through it from one side of the cape to another. Finally we arrive to the main settlement of the island – Huzhir and get accommodated at the local hotel.

Dinner served at the hotel will complete this day.

Overnight: Hotel “Lada”, wooden loge with a twin rooms, flashing toilet and washing facilities in a room. Included meals: B-L-D.

Day 2. Exploration of the northern part of Olkhon Island. Ice climbing training on a shore rocks.
Today we’ve got to take off early, as we will have a long ice-driving day to the north of Olkhon Island and across the Lake Baikal to its eastern shore. Along your ice drive route today you´ll see huge icicles, hanging like sharp teethes from the sailings of the rocky grottos of Haranzy Island and several quite deep ice caves located at the bottom of the huge cliffs of Three Brother Cape. Also, at this spot you could try an exciting sport activity – ice climbing. Our experienced guides will prepare safety devises and ropes at the picturesque rocky cliff covered with amazingly shaped icicles and show you a basic technique of the ice climbing. Even the people who never tried to do this before discover this activity very attractive, enjoyable and memorable. You will get a unique life-time experience!
From here we will head to the most northern extremity of Olkhon, locally called “Hoboy” (means fang tooth in translation) which is a most spectacular place of the whole Olkhon Island area.  At this spot island ends by a high rocky cliff surrounded by endless ice fields with a plenty of ice cracks focusing to the bottom of the Hoboy cliff.  Best place for taking pictures of the ice miracles of Lake Baikal!
Lunch will be prepared over a campfire, directly on the ice surface – grilled Omul fish – served right above rocky pillar of Hoboy Cape.
This afternoon we will continue our ice driving route around northern extremity of Olkhon Island. Following high rocky shore we will get to the smallest settlement of Olkhon – climate control station named Uzur. Here will get accommodated at the log cabins and spend some time trekking to the top of the local heist mount with a great panoramic view.
Tonight we will have an experience of Russian Steam sauna – Banya with a following swimming in a specially prepared ice hole on surface of frozen Lake Baikal!

Overnight: Guest log cabins of climate control station. No running water, wood stove heating, toilet outside.

Day 3. Olkhon Island – Ushkaniy Islands – Holy Nose PeninsularHot springs bathing – Camping on the ice.
This morning we will take a jeep drive from Uzury settlement across the middle of Lake Baikal towards to its eastern coast line. Usually driving across Lake Baikal is quite challenging: we’ve got to face to the opened ice cracks, rough fields of pack ice, deep snow and many other off-road obstacles. Drivers experienced in ice driving taking their own unique line following current ice conditions and intuition fillings. There are no practical ice roads at this remote part of Lake Baikal, so chances to meet someone’s tracks and other cars are minimal. 
On the way across white arctic desert you´ll see snow covered mounts of peninsula Holy Nose, southern part of the rocky Barguzin Mountain range and whole Island Olknon behind us. 

By the midday we will get to the group of the Ushkaniy Islands with another climate control station on it. This place is famous for a biggest seal colony around Lake Baikal and huge ice agglomerations in a winter time. Here you could take brilliant pictures of a chaotic mess of the shiny transparent ice cubes gathered in amazing hills much higher than a jeep car.  Lunch will be served as a picnic on ice of Lake Baikal.
This afternoon we will arrive to the eastern cost of Lake Baikal driving around the northern cap of Holy Nose peninsular to the sheltered Chivirkuiskiy gulf, famous for its natural open-air hot springs of the Snake bay. This evening we will set up a tent camp right on a ice of Lake Baikal next to the hot springs place and enjoy bathing in a thermal spring watching bright stars in a sky! Festive dinner in a tent will complete this day.

Overnight: Camping on the ice of Lake Baikal. Special winter tent with a wood stove heating.

Day 4. Entering Barguzin Mountain Valley.

Ice grottos on Islands of the Chivirkuiskii Bay, entering Barguzin Valley, visiting sacred sights of Janzima holy stone and sacred Bargahan Mountain with a group mineral springs.

Today morning we will have a breakfast at the camp, fold up the gear, pack it in a jeep car and continue our expedition. First we will explore multiple picturesque islands with ice-grottos of Chivirkuiskiy gulf and after that will get on land close to Russian village Monahovo. This settlement is one of the oldest at Lake Baikal and majority of local people are fisherman, so with certain luck we could see a traditional way of winter under-ice fishing at Lake Baikal.
From here we will follow long sandy beaches of the peninsular neck until we will get to Ust-Barguzin settlement and main road. Continue our driving road towards to the entrance of gorgeous Barguzin Valley trough taiga woods and in about 50 km we will see first snow covered rocky peaks of Barguzin Mountains.
Lunch in a road café, there you could try several dishes of ethnical Buryat cuisine. This afternoon we will see a Buddhist temple next to the holy Stone of Janjima and do a trek trip to another sacred spot at the mountain plateau of Bargahan-Uula Mountain – place of the main spirits – owners of Barguzin Valley. There is a breathtaking panoramic view to the river valley and surrounding rocky peaks from this mount you could enjoy. Also, if you come here with a kind and thankful thoughts this spot would mighty share with you its powerful energy.
Continue driving Barguzin Valley up north until we get the district center – Kurumkan town, where we will have a dinner at the café and get accommodation in a hotel.

Overnight: Comfortable hotel, twin rooms, shower, flashing toilets.

Day 5. Trip to the north of Barguzin Valley. Hot springs of Alla Valley, trekking to the majestic rocky canyon of Suhotka River with a plenty of high ice falls (heist is about 45 m)

This day we will drive to the northern part of Barguzin Valley to explore enigmatic deep rocky canyon of Suhotka river. First we will get by jeep car a far as it would be possible to the entrance of this mountain valley and do a half –day trek trip in this ice canyon. Every trip participant would have a crampons and ice-axe to walk on ice and with a help of experiences guides we will get to the bottom heist local ice-fall (more than 45 m). This majestic rocky canyon has over 20 different ice falls, some of them could be climbed at your demand. Lunch will be served as a picnic next to the campfire.

This afternoon we will head out of the canyon to the jeep cars and drive to the neighbor river valley famous for its hot mineral springs. Tonight we will camp next to the hot springs place, so you could enjoy a bathing after trekking day in a cold ice canyon.

Overnight: Camping next to the hot springs of Alla River.

Day 6. Exploration of the eastern part of the Barguzin Valley.

This day we will drive southwards using a different route, along the eastern side of Barguzin Valley. On our way we will visit amazing huge sandy dunes along the bank of Barguzin River, holy place of meditation legendary Sodoy Lama with a great panoramic view to all Barguzin Mountain Range, explore of the powerful sacred sight – Shingaldjin – a tight group of several picturesque rocks hidden in steppes.
Another memorable stopover would be taken by the Stone Garden of Inna village and gorgeous Rocky pillars of Suvo valley. This day we will finish our driving route by arriving to the small town Barguzin.

Overnight: Hotel in Barguzin settlelment at the southern part of Barguzin Mountain  Valley.

Day 7. Barguzin – Goryatchinsk – crossing Lake Baikal – Olkhon Island.

Today we will drive out of the Barguzin valley and get to the settlement of Goryatchinsk, located right opposite to Olkhon Island. Here we will get back to ice of Lake Baikal and cross it to the already familiar Uzur settlement.
On the way we will take a stop at the deepest spot (1682 m) of Lake Baikal located not far from Olkhon Island. From here you could clearly observe all northern part of the Olkhon Island including its heist summit – holy mount Izjimey. Upon arriving to Olkhon Island we will drive in land, so you could enjoy stunning views from the northern plateau of Olkhon Island. Visiting top of Hoboy and Three brother Capes and place of ex-USSR prison – GULAG. Arrival to the capital of Olkhon Island – Huzjir and accommodation in a hotel “Lada.” Experience of Rusisan steam sauna – Banya – will complete this day.
Overnight in Huzjir – capital settlement of Olkhon Island. (hotel)

Day 8. Southern part of Olkhon Island, Valley of the Stone Spirits, Ancient Rock drawings of Sagan-Zaba cliff.
This morning we will drive to the southern part of Olkhon Island on land, visiting most spectacular place and viewpoints of this area. We will see famous handing stone, sacred mount Haday and picturesque rock of Halzany bay.
Crossing Olkhon’s Gate straight by driving on ice to the settlement Sukhurte located right opposite to the southern extremity of Olkhon Island. From here we will get in land to see main destinations of this area – sacred Mount Erd – place of the annual Nomadic games and valley of the Stone Spirits – tight group of unusually shaped rocks in the middle of steppe plateau and interesting cave on unforgettable cape Aya.
By the midday on our way you will see ancient stone-build walls on the top of gorgeous Shibite Mount. Those walls remaining here from the late iron age and belong to the civilization of enigmatic Kurikan people, nomads who settled around Lake Baikal in a past. Also you will definitely enjoy breathtaking panoramic view to the endless spaces of the frozen Lake Baikal and valley of Anga River opening from this summit. From here we will get back to ice surface of Lake Baikal and continue driving along the west cost by exploring several deep ice grottos and rocks covered with amazing ice structures and visit the famous ancient rock drawings on high gorgeous rocky cliff of Sagan Zaba bay, showing a dancing Shamans and different animals .

Tonight we will get accommodation in a guest log cabins of the private farm, festive dinner with a dishes of traditional Siberian domestic cuisine will complete this day.

Overnight: Guest houses of the private farm on Krestovskii Cape.

Day 9. Full Ice driving day – Buguldeika, Sandy Bay, Goloustnoe Settlement, Listvyanka settlelment and Angara River Headwaters. Coming back to Irkutsk.
Today we will continue our ice driving venture by driving southwards along the western shore to the headwaters of Angara River.
We will take a big number of stopovers during this day, doing a treks on ice and short mount ascending.  
On the way you could see several interesting local attractions – sandy beaches and stunning granite cliffs of Sandy Bay, slopes of Primorskii Mountain range covered with virgin Taiga woods, lonely standing Baklaniy Kamen Island, one of the oldest Russian settlements of Lake Baikal – Goloustnoe village, caves of the Kadilniy cape and high rocky cliff named Screeper .Special stop will be taken at the spectacular high cliff named Devil’s Bridge. Here you could take a walk along an interesting artificial trail which goes across the cliff wall. Other stopover will be taken at the village Bolshie Koty – Old Russian settlement settled here at the golden rush times.
After visiting this village we will continue our ice drive and in a short while arriving to Listvyanka – small town at the source of Angara River – the only river which flew out of the Lake Baikal.  Dinner will be served in one of the local restaurants with dishes of the local fish cuisine – so you could have a taste of delicious Omul fish and celebrate a conclusion of our long ice driving expedition.

Driving on a paved highway to Irkutsk (75 km), upon arrival to the city accommodation in a private guest flat at the historical center of the city.

Overnight: Private guest flat. (twin room)

Day 10. Visiting Irkutsk city.

Free time in Irkutsk for souvenir shopping and leisure. Guided city tour to the historical center of Irkutsk city at your demand.Transfer to the Irkutsk airport. Departure to Moscow.

Tour price:  1250 Euro p/p

Tour price includes:

-      Guiding service

-      Accommodation according to a program

-      All meals according to a program (B-L-D)

-      All transfers according to a program (4x4 jeep car)

-      National Park and museum fees

-      Rent of camping equipment

-      Visa registration supply

-      Pick up service (from/to Railroad station)