Lake baikal Guide Book

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  1. 1. 1 RUSSIA, SIBERIA A TRAVELLERS GUIDE TO
  2. 2. 2 A TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO LAKE BAIKAL The glimmering blue pearl of Russia, Lake Baikal is rightfully upheld as Siberias most famous attraction. Its clear-as-a-mirror waters are a reflection of Siberias wildness, its vastness and its beauty. A UNESECO World Heritage Site, the crescent shaped lake extends for 636km from north to south and is up to 1,637m deep, making it the deepest lake in the world. In fact, 20% of the worlds fresh water is contained within Lake Baikal. The vast Baikal region is home to unique indigenous cultures such as the Buddhist Buryat people. Traditional villages are dotted along the lakes shore, interspersed with taiga forest and rocky steppes. Irkutsk, the main gateway to Lake Baikal, houses museums, galleries, an opera house and other cultural icons. However, its natural beauty amidst the rolling hills and lush taiga forests astride the Angara River, the only tributary that flows from Lake Baikal, is the real drawcard. Intersected by the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Baikal region is an easily accessible and fabulously scenic place to get acquainted with a world of uniquely Siberian thrills. Go dog sledding in spectacular taiga forests, play a round of ice golf, or enjoy a summer sailing expedition on the glassy surface of the lake. From adventure to relaxation to fascinating cultural experiences, the Baikal region has it all. See you at Lake Baikal very soon! Calluson1300742374(tollfreefromAustralia)or+61-2-8221-88-59fromtherestoftheworld,orvisitourwebsite www.56thparallel.com
  3. 3. 3 SECTIONS WITHIN THIS EBOOK WhentovisitLakeBaikal---------------------------------------------------------5 HighlightsoftheBaikalRegion--------------------------------------------------6 GettingInandAround------------------------------------------------------------19 EatingandSleeping----------------------------------------------------------------21 EthnicCulturesofBaikal---------------------------------------------------------26 ToursofLakeBaikal---------------------------------------------------------------29 Call us on 1300 742 374 (toll free from Australia) or +61-2-8221-88-59 from the rest of the world, or visit our website www.56thparallel.com
  4. 4. 4 LAKE BAIKAL FOR BEGINNERS Call us on 1300 742 374 (toll free from Australia) or +61-2-8221-88-59 from the rest of the world, or visit our website www.56thparallel.com
  5. 5. 5 WHEN TO VISIT LAKE BAIKAL Lake Baikal offers beautiful scenery and plenty to see and do year-round. The high season for Lake Baikal is late spring and summer, when the weather is warm (temperatures reach around 24 C by late May) and the landscape is lush and green. Spring and summer offer comfortable conditions for hiking, camping, cycling and SCUBA diving, as well as the opportunity to sail and kayak on the lake. Autumn brings cooler temperatures, fewer tourists and a beautiful, rich red hue to the taiga. For many Baikal aficionados, winter is without a doubt the most spectacular time to visit the region, as the lake is presented in all its serene, icy glory. From late February to April, Lake Baikal is frozen, sealed by ice up to a metre thick and solid enough for cars to drive across it. At this time of year, a host of winter activities are available on the lake and its surrounds, including ice skating, cross-country skiing, dog sledding and ice fishing. ofwinteractivitiesareavailableonthelakeanditssurrounds,includingiceskating,cross- countryskiing,dogsleddingandicefishing. Call us on 1300 742 374 (toll free from Australia) or +61-2-8221-88-59 from the rest of the world, or visit our website www.56thparallel.com
  6. 6. 6 HIGHLIGHTES OF LAKE BAIKAL Call us on 1300 742 374 (toll free from Australia) or +61-2-8221-88-59 from the rest of the world, or visit our website www.56thparallel.com
  7. 7. 7 IRKUTSK CITY As the most populated area in the region, Irkutsk (population 600,000) is Baikals unofficial capital, and the main jumping off point for tourists exploring the Baikal region. Apart from being on the Trans- Siberian Railway and about an hours drive from the lake, Irkutsk has a unique charm, an atmospheric Old Town and quite a few attractions that make it worthy of a visit in its own right. As one of the oldest Siberian cities, the town is home to several 17th century churches, an Opera House, and a collection of attractive wooden houses dating back to the time of the Decemberists Russian aristocrats who were exiled to Irkutsk after trying to prevent the coronation of Nicholas I. The Irkutsk Regional Museum features fascinating exhibits on the indigenous cultures of the Baikal region. Calluson1300742374(tollfreefromAustralia)or+61-2-8221-88-59fromtherestoftheworld,orvisitourwebsite www.56thparallel.com
  8. 8. 8 OLKHON ISLAND ThemostfamousofBaikalsthreedozenislandsis Olkhon, renowned for its sheer size and the monumental grandeur of its landscapes. Olkhons craggy cliffs emerge dramatically from the clear waters of the lake, and its interior is verdant with forests, hills and meadows. Olkhon is sparsely inhabited, but is home to several ethnic Buryat settlementsdottedaroundtheisland.Closetolively Khuzhir village is Shamanka (Shaman Rock), the holiestsitefortheBuryatipeople.Followingajeep trackdownto theKhoboyPeninsulagives youthe chance to visit shamanic ritual sites and spot freshwater Baikal seals sunbaking on the rocks below. Call us on 1300 742 374 (toll free from Australia) or +61-2-8221-88-59 from the rest of the world, or visit our website www.56thparallel.com
  9. 9. 9 WINTER SPORTS Winter is perhaps the most spectacular time to visit Lake Baikal, when the taiga is blanketed in snow and around the lake are crystalline ice caves and glittering grottoes waiting to be explored. A variety of unique activities and experiences are on offer over winter, including dog sledding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, hovercraft rides, ice fishing and ice rafting. When Baikal freezes over between late February and April, its possible to ice skate, drive a buggy or 4WD and even mountain bike over the surface of the lake. Several ski resorts in the mountain ranges around Lake Baikal have opened up, including Inturist-Baikal near Listvyanka, and Sobolinaya Mountain, just outside the town of Baikalsk. The ski season lasts from late November until May. Call us on 1300 742 374 (toll free from Australia) or +61-2-8221-88-59 from the rest of the world, or visit our website www.56thparallel.com
  10. 10. 10 OGOY ISLAND A small island with an eight-metre-hight Buddhist stupa of Enlightenment was raised at the highest point. A Buddhist stupa and an object of worship that means, support for gifts. There are only two stupas in Russia on Lake Baikal and in Kalmykia Republic. It is believed that if you go around the stupa three times expressing your respect to it and make a wish, it will come true. There is only one condition: the thoughts of the person who makes a wish should be pure. Calluson1300742374(tollfreefromAustralia)or+61-2-8221-88-59fromtherestoftheworld,orvisitourwebsite www.56thparallel.com
  11. 11. 11 LISTVYANKA VILLAGE 70km from Irkutsk, nestled between the western shore of the lake and the mouth of the Angara River, Listvyanka is the most widely visited village in the Baikal region, with a good selection of hotels, restaurants and the opportunity to visit a Russian banya (sauna). Theres plenty to see and do in and around Listvyanka, including picturesque hikes around the lake, horse riding, mountain biking and dog sledding in winter. The Limnological Museum, also known as the Baikal Museum, features a large aquarium and offers a great introduction to the unique flora and fauna of the lake. 15km from Listvyanka on the road to Irkutsk is the Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture, with open air exhibits featuring real wooden houses brought from all over Siberia. Call us on 1300 742 374 (toll free from Australia) or +61-2-8221-88-59 from the rest of the world, or visit our website www.56thparallel.com
  12. 12. 12 CIRCUM-BAIKAL RAILWAY An extraordinarily scenic stretch of rail beginning in Port Baikal, the Circum-Baikal Railway is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque sections of the Trans-Siberian Railway. An extraordinary achievement in engineering, known as the gold belt of Siberia, it was one of the grand projects of Tsarist times. Built between 1896 and 1900 and designed by architects and engineers summoned from all over Europe, the rail was laid along the edge of the coast through the dramatic slopes of the Primorsky Range. A fantastic day trip from Listvyanka, its possible to hop on and off the train at some of the most scenic points along the railway. Calluson1300742374(tollfreefromAustralia)or+61-2-8221-88-59fromtherestoftheworld,orvisitourwebsite www.56thparallel.com
  13. 13. 13 TALTSY MUSEUM The Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture and Ethnography allows visitors to step into the everyday life and culture of Siberians from past centuries. Taltsy is a unique, open-air museum, which lets visitors to walk around the 40 historical-architectural monuments and over 8,000 other exhibits. The museum is divided into two areas; the Russian and the Buryat areas and offers a range of historically and culturally significant monuments and exhibits from the 17-20th centuries. The Museum is set on 67 hectares of protected land and featured replicate buildings from historical Siberian villages, including houses, farmsteads, churches, and a school building. Visitors can enter these historical building and see tools, clothes, furniture, and other everyday objects from Siberian village life. Call us on 1300 742 374 (toll free from Australia) or +61-2-8221-88-59 from the rest of the world, or visit our website www.56thparallel.com
  14. 14. 14 HOT SPRINGS Hot springs