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  Main arrow Special Interest Tours arrow Baikal Polar Meridian  
 
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“BAIKAL POLAR MERIDIAN -105”

 

Exclusive Baikal winter-2005 tour offer

                         
“…The majority of tourists and travelers as well as divers get to know Lake Baikal in summer. But I was lucky to visit t, first, in early March when the Siberian sea was frozen. It impressed me greatly – it was a Snow queen `s kingdom. Several days on Olkhon, ice hiking and snow – mobile safari, diving into the clearest sweet water, visiting ice grottoes of the Khoboi Cape and following sunsets on the holy Burhan Cape with the Buryats Shaman `s rock   flew by in a blink retaining on the films which though partly will be able to convey severe beauty, calm and dignity of the winter Baikal.” – A. Aristarkhov, “Octopus”, № 3, 2003     

The word Siberia brings an instant visual picture of harsh snowstorms to one's mind…
"You're spending the winter in Siberia?!!" This was the incredulous response of most friends and relatives when I told them my intentions of spending six months working for "Baikal Environmental Wave" in Irkutsk, Russia.  And I must admit I had occasional misgivings myself...But to my surprise, I found that the climate was one of the things that I liked - the never-ending sunshine and snow was a welcome change from the wet and windy winters in Britain…” -  Katy Harris

 


 And for Siberians especially those living on lake Baikal – they greet the winter as a special time in which they can enjoy skiing, skating, ice fishing and getting together with their friends and on lake Baikal the people also enjoy its plenty of sunshine while crystal clear water of Lake Baikal makes the ice beautifully transparent and even at one meter deep you can still see right through it...
The tour itinerary  below enables both to visit a great winter event organized on lake Baikal – the Winteriada International Nordic Games Festival, and even offers a chance to participate in it, enjoy cross-country skiing on groomed trail in the picturesque snowy landscapes of Hamar Daban Mountain Range,  undertake a 2-days ice trekking across lake Baikal with an overnight in the Baikal Polar Meridian-105 ice base camp in the middle of the lake, proceed on the safe and adventurous trip by the Nomads Air Cushioned Amphibious Vehicle to see most famous and sacred places of winter lake Baikal, learn some winter customs and unique rituals, and much more…

We hope that good memories about your holiday – is exactly what your can really expect, having decided to spend with us one of your winter weeks on the icy shores and surface of “Siberian pearl” and on the below offered exclusive brand new tour itinerary ….


Day 1
February,22

Most Welcome to Irkutsk – Winter Paris of Siberia and the gateways of Its Pearl –Lake Baikal! 

After arrival in Irkutsk we meet you at the airport, assist with the luggage and then take you by coach   to the down town ***-star hotel. When checking in at the hotel enjoy Baikal Discovery welcome drink. After some time at leisure and lunch we shall proceed  on our sightseeing tour of Irkutsk  that besides visiting the city’s most    interesting and atmospheric  sights will include visit to see the Nerpa Show - World’s Only Baikal Fresh Water Seal Show during  which you’ll  certainly admire how beautiful and smart the Baikal’s only aquatic mammals are!

After arrival in Irkutsk we meet you at the airport, assist with the luggage and then take you by coach   to the down town ***-star hotel. When checking in at the hotel enjoy Baikal Discovery welcome drink. After some time at leisure and lunch we shall proceed  on our sightseeing tour of Irkutsk  that besides visiting the city’s most    interesting and atmospheric  sights will include visit to see the Nerpa Show - World’s Only Baikal Fresh Water Seal Show during  which you’ll  certainly admire how beautiful and smart the Baikal’s only aquatic mammals are!

Dinner will be served in downtown restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.

 

Day 2
February,23
– The Russian ( former Soviet ) Army Day &

The Opening of the “III-rd Baikal Winteriada International  Nordic Games Festival”

Today we attend and , probably, some of you, participate in the ceremony of  The Opening of the “III-rd Baikal Winteriada International  Nordic Games Festival” which recently became an outstanding   all-Russia and, so far to less extent, an international winter event that gathers thousands of people - participants and visitors alike, sportsmen and adventure spirit people, active winter outdoors fans. The “big fish” from Russia’s Olympic Committee and Russian Federation Council and/ or State Duma are planned to take part in the Opening Ceremony.
Nearly the whole day we spend today on the ice of the Irkutsk man-made sea of the Angara river where the ceremony of the Baikal Nordic Games Festival will take place and which is supposed to include some entertaining and sports events.
On your prior and timely request members of the group can take part in the amateur cross country ski races (1.5 or 3 km) or if there’re enough members in your group to make up the volleyball team, then Baikal Discovery can register the group as the participant of the Ice Volleyball Winteriada Cup.
(Please, note that a person willing to become a participant should provide medical certificate testifying that this person is physically well fit for the event he/she is willing to participate… And what Baikal Discovery can assist with is that when your group lacks a person or two to become a registered team then we may include a couple of Russian tour managers skillful in ice volleyball to claim the group as an international tourist team! )
Also, during the Opening Ceremony it will be announced about your Baikal Polar Meridian-105 trip and you’ll be claimed as the participants of a unique winter expedition-like trip within the frames of the International Winteriada Baikal Nordic Games Festival.

Today we attend and , probably, some of you, participate in the ceremony of  The Opening of the “III-rd Baikal Winteriada International  Nordic Games Festival” which recently became an outstanding   all-Russia and, so far to less extent, an international winter event that gathers thousands of people - participants and visitors alike, sportsmen and adventure spirit people, active winter outdoors fans. The “big fish” from Russia’s Olympic Committee and Russian Federation Council and/ or State Duma are planned to take part in the Opening Ceremony.
Nearly the whole day we spend today on the ice of the Irkutsk man-made sea of the Angara river where the ceremony of the Baikal Nordic Games Festival will take place and which is supposed to include some entertaining and sports events.
On your prior and timely request members of the group can take part in the amateur cross country ski races (1.5 or 3 km) or if there’re enough members in your group to make up the volleyball team, then Baikal Discovery can register the group as the participant of the Ice Volleyball Winteriada Cup.
(Please, note that a person willing to become a participant should provide medical certificate testifying that this person is physically well fit for the event he/she is willing to participate… And what Baikal Discovery can assist with is that when your group lacks a person or two to become a registered team then we may include a couple of Russian tour managers skillful in ice volleyball to claim the group as an international tourist team! )
Also, during the Opening Ceremony it will be announced about your Baikal Polar Meridian-105 trip and you’ll be claimed as the participants of a unique winter expedition-like trip within the frames of the International Winteriada Baikal Nordic Games Festival.

Anyway, this day will offer you much unmatched Siberian winter fun and amusement that will keep us busy until dinner which is to be served in the Korchma restaurant and followed with some folkloric entertainment.

 

Day 3
February, 24

Trip to Sable Mountain Alpine Skiing Center

After early morning breakfast we check out from the hotel and depart from Irkutsk by coach to the town of Baikalsk located on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal in southernmost part. With few stops on the way to take pictures of great taiga-wood views and after driving a distance of 140 km we shall reach within 4 hours the town of Baikalsk.  Being the location of the dreadful Pulp Mill – a peril to Lake Baikal , the town is also famed for the best in the Lake Baikal area alpine skiing center of Sable Mountain situated at the foothills of Hamar Daban Range. ( The establishment of the Alpine Center gave rise to other tourist infrastructure developments in the area and demonstrated that proper  use of  recreational resources of the area might  be  the only alternative both for sustainability of local community and preservation of lake Baikal,  showing  good perspectives  and substitute for employment of the local people released of their jobs if the  Pulp Mill is closed, hopefully) .

After early morning breakfast we check out from the hotel and depart from Irkutsk by coach to the town of Baikalsk located on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal in southernmost part. With few stops on the way to take pictures of great taiga-wood views and after driving a distance of 140 km we shall reach within 4 hours the town of Baikalsk.  Being the location of the dreadful Pulp Mill – a peril to Lake Baikal , the town is also famed for the best in the Lake Baikal area alpine skiing center of Sable Mountain situated at the foothills of Hamar Daban Range. ( The establishment of the Alpine Center gave rise to other tourist infrastructure developments in the area and demonstrated that proper  use of  recreational resources of the area might  be  the only alternative both for sustainability of local community and preservation of lake Baikal,  showing  good perspectives  and substitute for employment of the local people released of their jobs if the  Pulp Mill is closed, hopefully) .

Upon reaching Baikalsk we drive to the “Baikal Comfort” Guest House scenically located just 100 m from lake Baikal. The Baikal Comfort in its twin and suite rooms offers best available accommodations in this part of the lake, warm atmosphere, tasty Russian home-made cuisine (rooms with modern amenities, the facility featuring also excellent steam bath – Russian sauna- with a swimming pool, billiards).

Enjoy your lunch after checking in. Then we depart to the Sable Mountain Alpine Skiing Center to see the opening of Baikal Alpine Skiing Prize Competitions . There will also be a number of activities that you can be involved or be entertained by.
Dinner of Siberian cuisine will be served back at the Baikal Comfort Guest House.

 

Day 4
February, 25

Cross-country Skiing Adventure into the foothills of Hamar Daban Mount. Range

After breakfast we shall drive to the snowy valley of Utulik river famous in summer time for good white-water rafting trips for full-day cross-country skiing safari trip into the taiga-woods of the Hamar Daban Range. This will be fully-guided trip with a camp-fire and barbecue on the snow (skis shall be provided on your prior request).  During the trip your cross-country skiing instructor well familiar with taiga-wisely dwellers’ life will tell us about skills and ways required not just to survive in winter and make it good fun …

After breakfast we shall drive to the snowy valley of Utulik river famous in summer time for good white-water rafting trips for full-day cross-country skiing safari trip into the taiga-woods of the Hamar Daban Range. This will be fully-guided trip with a camp-fire and barbecue on the snow (skis shall be provided on your prior request).  During the trip your cross-country skiing instructor well familiar with taiga-wisely dwellers’ life will tell us about skills and ways required not just to survive in winter and make it good fun …

On return back from this trip enjoy good dinner and well-heated Russian steam-bath of Baikal Comfort Guest House followed by an orientation lecture in the cozy fire-place sitting room on details of the upcoming tour itinerary on Lake Baikal. At the same time, some instructions and useful hints concerning your ice walking trip will be provided and the participants of the “Baikal Polar Meridian-105” trip will get so-called “Baikal Polar Bank notes” that circulate on our Baikal 105 Meridian ice base camp…

 

Day 5
February, 26

19 km ice walking trip to the middle of lake Baikal – the location of Baikal Polar Meridian- 105 ice base camp.

After breakfast we get on the coach for a 1-hour transfer by coach to the Tanhoy station located further northwards on Baikal shore where most of our luggage shall be loaded onto snowmobiles or Nomads Air Cushioned Amphibious Vehicle (ACV). We shall take with us only those personal items that you may definitely require during our full-day back packing trip to “Baikal Polar Meridian 105” base camp.

After breakfast we get on the coach for a 1-hour transfer by coach to the Tanhoy station located further northwards on Baikal shore where most of our luggage shall be loaded onto snowmobiles or Nomads Air Cushioned Amphibious Vehicle (ACV). We shall take with us only those personal items that you may definitely require during our full-day back packing trip to “Baikal Polar Meridian 105” base camp.

Following the direct ice traverse to the Baikal Polar Meridian-105 ice base camp with no any risk to our lives or one’s personal safety we will cross some Baikal trenches and cracks –evidence that under the ice Baikal continues to support its aquatic life! You will certainly admire how transparent and thick the ice of lake Baikal is (the average thickness of ice is 1 m 20 centimeters). With few breaks to relax on the way in about 4 hours we will get to our lunch spot set up by the support team prior we reach it. After enjoying lunch of Japanese cuisine ( in good memory of the first Japanese tourists who successfully crossed Lake Baikal walking on the ice from western shore to the eastern one) we proceed further on our ice walk with several stops to relax and take pictures of beautiful ice and snow enchanted landscape surrounding us.

Within the next 3 hours of our ice walking trip after lunch we will reach our “Baikal Meridian 105” ice base camp. Here we will enjoy “Baikal Meridian 105 Welcome Drink” - a special treat consisting of “raskolodka” (Baikal “soushimi” prepared out frozen whitefish cut into slices served with salt and black pepper) and some special Baikal Meridian Moonshine Vodka. After checking in special tents each to accommodate up to 6 persons we will have dinner of Siberian cuisine featuring our special meat-dumplings and herb-teas. The rest of the evening  can be spent while relaxing at the “Baikalsky Sokui” ice bar-kiosk, listening to classical music, watching magnificent sunset over the Tolsty Cape of Lake Baikal, just chatting with other guests who may be visiting the Baikal Meridian 105 this evening. This night also and at no charge using the Baikal Meridian 105 satellite phone you’ll be offered to call your home, friends to say “hello” to them.

At night having got into the sleeping – bags in the warm and cozy shelter of our Meridian-105 tepees or tents (or those who wish - in 2 igloos made of ice that will be also available) do not be afraid to hear the natural “Baikal symphony” – resonant roll and peculiar sound of waves, moving under the ice that safely separate you from the abyss of Baikal water …We bet you’ll have fabulous dreams this night!

It’s really a special feeling to sleep on a frozen deepest lake of the world... you gotta try this!

 

Day 6
February, 27

The day of completion of certified Ice Trekking Trip across Baikal !


 

After breakfast we shall check out from the Baikal Polar Meridian-105 base camp to the western shore heading on direct ice traverse to Listvyanka settlement ( about 20 km total distance). Walking towards western shore of the lake we en route having few stops to relax and have some snack with hot tea and coffee, and supported by snow mobile safari & rescue team complete with JPS we shall come out on the mainland’s western shore right in Listvyanka settlement. Upon completion of your certified Baikal Ice Trekking Trip, please, accept our congratulations followed with some champagne treat.

After breakfast we shall check out from the Baikal Polar Meridian-105 base camp to the western shore heading on direct ice traverse to Listvyanka settlement ( about 20 km total distance). Walking towards western shore of the lake we en route having few stops to relax and have some snack with hot tea and coffee, and supported by snow mobile safari & rescue team complete with JPS we shall come out on the mainland’s western shore right in Listvyanka settlement. Upon completion of your certified Baikal Ice Trekking Trip, please, accept our congratulations followed with some champagne treat.

Then transfer by coach to the “Ersy Inn” guest house (or the Nikolai’s Homestead Guest House) – the mainland centers of the “Baikal Polar Meridian-105”.  After checking in at the cozy and comfortable guest house  we will have   lunch  of home made Siberian cuisine featuring  Siberian Meat Dumplings, then visit  Baikal  Ecology  Museum which  has  a large  display  of unique  exhibits  of  the lake’s flora and fauna. Before dinner we shall also visit an observation sight from where one can enjoy and take pictures of excellent views on Lake Baikal and popular functioning St. Nicolas-the-Miracle-Worker Russian Orthodox Church built of wood without use of any nail. Here you may buy a candle and lit it placing before the main church icon asking the Wonder-Maker Saint for luck.  As well as we’ll stop near the Shaman rock associated with many popular legends.  At dinner your Baikal Discovery tour manager will again deliver you details on the next portion of your tour program.

 

Day 7
February, 28

Fabulous Journey on the Baikal ice by the “Nomads” Air Cushioned Amphibious Vehicle  


After breakfast we start out on our ice– mobile safari to Baikal Polar Spot on “Nomads”  air cushioned amphibious vehicle (ACV). First, we head today for Peschanaya (meaning “Sandy”) Bay often referred to as Siberian Riviera being an inimitably beautiful look of the lake where Nature has generously given man the blue sky, a vast space of Baikal, the amber-like fine sand of its beaches and the healthy air of the Baikal taiga-woods.
The Sandy bay is famous for plenty of sunny days: it is the only place on the lake where the average annual temperature is above zero (+3,40°C). Also , this semicircular shaped Bay is the sole place on the lake where one can see miraculous "wandering" trees, one of wonders of Baikal. They grow on a sand dune near so-called Big Bell tower Rock. The trees have risen above the earth on their stilt-like roots, from under which water and winds blow out the soil.
Peschanaya Bay is.
After visit to Peschanaya Bay and taking pictures of gorgeous winter landscapes enchanted in snow and ice we will continue by our “Khivus” ACV further to have our next stop at  Buguldeika village. Upon arrival in Buguldeika we shall check in at “Riverside Estate” retreat lodge which  offers cozy accommodations and where we’ll certainly enjoy delicious home made meals. After lunch we shall proceed on a guided tour of the local area, also here you’ll be offered a chance to win the ice-skating races on the uniquely frozen surface of the Buguldeika river. 

After breakfast we start out on our ice– mobile safari to Baikal Polar Spot on “Nomads”  air cushioned amphibious vehicle (ACV). First, we head today for Peschanaya (meaning “Sandy”) Bay often referred to as Siberian Riviera being an inimitably beautiful look of the lake where Nature has generously given man the blue sky, a vast space of Baikal, the amber-like fine sand of its beaches and the healthy air of the Baikal taiga-woods.
The Sandy bay is famous for plenty of sunny days: it is the only place on the lake where the average annual temperature is above zero (+3,40°C). Also , this semicircular shaped Bay is the sole place on the lake where one can see miraculous "wandering" trees, one of wonders of Baikal. They grow on a sand dune near so-called Big Bell tower Rock. The trees have risen above the earth on their stilt-like roots, from under which water and winds blow out the soil.
Peschanaya Bay is.
After visit to Peschanaya Bay and taking pictures of gorgeous winter landscapes enchanted in snow and ice we will continue by our “Khivus” ACV further to have our next stop at  Buguldeika village. Upon arrival in Buguldeika we shall check in at “Riverside Estate” retreat lodge which  offers cozy accommodations and where we’ll certainly enjoy delicious home made meals. After lunch we shall proceed on a guided tour of the local area, also here you’ll be offered a chance to win the ice-skating races on the uniquely frozen surface of the Buguldeika river. 

 Khivus ACV

“Khivus” Hovercraft is   state of the art Air Cushioned Vehicle (ACV) designed for year round   use,  suitable to most  terrains and diverse weather conditions, the ideal amphibian for passenger transportation, search and rescue including on thin ice operations, ecologic survey, geologic exploration and expeditions,  marine law enforcement. Controllability features of Khivus ACV such as reliable   air cushion design ensure   safety of operations and increase the vehicle’s  maneuvering.

Other Specifications:
- The ACV can go over shallow waters, marches, ice, deep snow and broken ice, uneven surfaces.
- original provides high level of safety thanks to increased and stability;
-  noise-reduced propeller;
Displacement – 1670 kg, Seating capacity – 10 pax,  Cruising speed by water – 50 kph (max. 70kph);over snow – 70 kph (max. 100 kph);Hill climbing ability – 6 degree; Riding distance  -400 km;


Day 8
March, 01

The First Day of Spring on Lake Baikal …

Today after lunch we will depart by our “Nomads” ACV’s  to the the Cape of War in the valley of Anga river where Sagaan Zaba White marble Cliffs are situated.  The place is famous for the remains of ancient fortifications and petroglyphs (rock drawings) that being over 2500 years old depict the scenes from every day life of ancient people as well as those of shamanistic beliefs. Upon arrival we do first a ceremony of offerings with “white food” to the local patron spirits and sprinkle some vodka in order to win the spirits over.

Today after lunch we will depart by our “Nomads” ACV’s  to the the Cape of War in the valley of Anga river where Sagaan Zaba White marble Cliffs are situated.  The place is famous for the remains of ancient fortifications and petroglyphs (rock drawings) that being over 2500 years old depict the scenes from every day life of ancient people as well as those of shamanistic beliefs. Upon arrival we do first a ceremony of offerings with “white food” to the local patron spirits and sprinkle some vodka in order to win the spirits over.

World renowned academician A.P. Okladnikov strongly impressed by ancient rock drawings of the Tsagaan Zaba white marble cliffs once he   first saw them had said:” Rock Art in Tsagaan – Zaba Bay is a unique phenomenon among the others incised drawings of Siberia. Petroglyphs in Sagaan – Zaba are genuine pearls of ancient art and that of Siberian peoples. There is nothing matching them anywhere else from the Urals to the Pacific ocean”. Unfortunately, the future of this historical evidence is endangered. First, the monks of Posolsky monastery bewitching the demon power of Tsagaan Zaba inscribed two crosses on the ancient drawings. Then a number of rock drawings were damaged by later signs (1898, 1913, 1943). And only by some chance fluke was the rock saved from destruction when in its immediate vicinity marble was mined by detonation. And later the sign “A.V. Pervushin, 1966” destroyed several valuable drawings. That  A.V. Pervushin, perhaps, was unable to realize what he really had done, but there’s no excuse for him - by his own hand he added his name into the  history of vulgarity and vandalism…

 

Then we board our ACV to continue our trip to Olkhon Island en route passing through the so-called Gates of Small Sea.

At 72 km long, Olkhon Island is the largest island on Lake Baikal and home to some of the area’s most beautiful landscapes. The island's appearance is a result of millions of years of tectonic development, resulting in the hollowing of this channel and the block of stone forming Olkhorn Island. If you gaze up at the steep slopes of the Primorsky Range, you can see the vertical heave of the Earth over the Obruchev Fault.
After dinner our guides will introduce you to some secrets of ice-fishing in lake Baikal. Our guides will choose for you the best fishing spots, but to guarantee a good catch this is not enough. Baikal is a special place and one should first perform a short ritual to ask the Spirits for help.
The ice-fishing on the Baikal both for amateurs and professionals is very popular and it has made a reputation of winter sport, passion and leisure. What can be more exciting than he ice-fishing on the world deepest and clearest lake! The Siberian winter on the Baikal is not so severe as some people suppose – it’s a nice time for winter sport – in March or in April when one can definitely get a perfect alpine tan, it is a well-known fact that Lake Baikal has more sunshine days a year than most parts of Italy.
For your Baikal winter fishing we choose you the best location – ice fishing in the Maloye More ( “Small Sea) –a strait separating the biggest island of the Baikal – Olkhon from western mainland shore.
Try to catch a lake white – fish, grayling, perch or famous omul – fish – endemic species, a distant relative of salmon family! And we will provide you with fishing gear and special Baikal baits  - the so-called   “burmash”.


 

 

This burmash - grass shrimp collected through the ice from small lakes are the basis of omul fishing on Baikal. The small bait creatures are dropped through the ice holes regularly in specific places to form long-term feeding areas for the desired indigenous fish, the Lake Baikal omul. For a multi-day fishing trip on Lake Baikal  a fishing team can use 10 liters of burmash and the native people find that gathering and selling burmash is more profitable than fishing. The going price is perhaps over 1 $  per liter . Often a bottle of vodka is better than currency in negotiating the purchase of burmash. A normal ice-fishing trip would involve leaving Irkutsk at around 8 PM and driving 4-5 hours to the burmash ponds where the team would collect bait shrimp during several hours, getting as many as 30 liters and selling the excess to other fishing teams. They would then proceed to the Lake, where they would drive to the selected fishing area over the ice, arriving in time for the heavy biting at dawn.

 

Day 9
March, 02

Baikal Nordic Tourist Ice-Fishing Prize !

After breakfast with a supply of “burmash” lure  on board, we will proceed for the short drive over the ice to the selected fishing grounds – to our first “kamchatka”, or traditional omul group fishing area, where people, tents, and huts cluster together on the ice over a long-established fishing spot and to enjoy the fish-attracting effects of volumes of burmash dropped by the fishermen clustered above the feeding omul. Sometimes as many as 1000 people would crowd into one “kamchatka” a few years ago, but now there was less interest in fishing and only a hundred or so was a normal group these days. Our fishing ground will be not far from the shore and a bit less accessible to the less-dedicated fishermen.

After breakfast with a supply of “burmash” lure  on board, we will proceed for the short drive over the ice to the selected fishing grounds – to our first “kamchatka”, or traditional omul group fishing area, where people, tents, and huts cluster together on the ice over a long-established fishing spot and to enjoy the fish-attracting effects of volumes of burmash dropped by the fishermen clustered above the feeding omul. Sometimes as many as 1000 people would crowd into one “kamchatka” a few years ago, but now there was less interest in fishing and only a hundred or so was a normal group these days. Our fishing ground will be not far from the shore and a bit less accessible to the less-dedicated fishermen.

An ice–hole for fishing shall be prepared for you by our staff. However, you can take part in the team competition “The fastest ice–hole driller” and get a special prize when winning. After drilling ice – holes and before fishing enjoy the traditional ceremony – a shot of vodka as an offering to the Burkhan “for good luck in fishing” ( you may not necessarily finish the vodka drink, however, to accept the vodka and sprinkle it as an offering to the Baikal deities is a must!). As for your fishing success it will partially depend on the bait, but on the whole on your luck, and then experience and skills which you’ll obtain from our knowledgeable guide!  The entire fishing shall be a kind of “Cool Fisherman” competition (the more fish you have caught regardless of its size and weight the better). Before lunch the fishing shall be stopped and the result of the competition summed up. During lunch time the winner will be rewarded with a prize.

 

Lake Baikal ice fishing is a distinctive art, and instruction and some practice are needed to hook and land a fish. Omul cruise about halfway between bottom and ice in 25-meter deep waters, travel in small (or large) schools, and will bite a small hooked shrimp lure when it is bounced and bobbed appropriately from above. Each ice-fishing rig is a foot-long wooden stick with a V- shaped notch at each end and wound end to end with 25-30 meters of nylon line. Four or five lures are attached to the line near its end which is completed with a moderate sinker and a lower lure, for insurance. The line is lowered into the ice hole approximately 12 meters - that is, to the depth at which the omul are biting, and jigged up and down constantly while trying to adjust the depth to find the fish. Barbless hooks are used to keep the line from fouling on itself during the two-handed retrieving which results in the classic windmill motion of the successful Baikal ice fisherman. In the lucky instance when an omul tugs at a lure, the fisherman begins a sharp and rapid retrieval of line and fish from the depths. This is done by alternately dipping the free hand and the stick under the line near the hole with arms spread to effect a wide loop and rapidly wrapping the line around both hands. The string of small lures comes last and is wrapped over the line already retrieved, and finally the omul is pulled through the ice to the admiring comments of the team. The fish is flipped away from the hole, the sinker is returned to the water, and the line is unreeled into the hole by alternately dipping hand or stick towards the hole while maintaining tension between the arms so that the loops of line stay neatly on each hand. Freeing the dangling hooks from the skein of line as this is done takes a bit of practice - as does taking in the line properly. When done by an expert in the kamchatka this is a rapid, effective, and graceful procedure. When attempted by a novice, the result is often comical. From shore, those resting and eating can tell right away when the heavy biting is in progress as five, ten or more men begin waving arms violently in the air simultaneously and the addictive rush of omul adrenaline sets in, canceling the effects of hours of standing in the chilling wind on the frozen lake.

 

Then transfer to the MRS village (an old name which stands as Russian abbreviation for Malomorskii Fishing Farm) 45 km) and crossing Olkhon Vorota (Olkhon Gates) strait to the Olkhon island while heading for  Nikita Bebcharov’s guest– house  managed  by a private family in Huzhir village.  Then you’ll have an excursion to the Burhan cape where you will visit the well – known Shamanka rock  – one of the 9 Asian sacred places called “ Rock Temple” in the past. The Burkhan Cape Shaman Rock Temple was once visited by the Dalai-Lama who had carried on special service near the Altar-of-Rock in a small cave inside the Craig that has some inscriptions in Sanskrit. By the shamanist believers the Cape is regarded to be home of the major of 13 sky deities – Khan Hate– Baabai who came to our Land as a fortune ruler.
Then we drive to the “Chanchur” retreat lodge on the eastern coast of the Baikal. to get prepared for Siberian Banya (steam bath), which is also a wide-spread tradition the Russians keenly preserve and like especially on the eve of New Year when one is supposed to sweat out and wash away all past problems in the Banya in order to  enter the New Year clean and released of any burden of the last year.  Before you start sweating-out in the Banya, you will get our special instructions and all explanations required to ensure you have Siberian steam bath spent in a proper and most pleasant way (our special birch and fir besoms shall also be prepared for you and our Banya-expert on your request shall provide special “besom massage”). During your stay in the Banya you will be offered our special tea and home made soft drinks and freshen-ups. You will feel yourself as just delivered after this Siberian Sauna!

            
 

Chanchur  is a cluster of small, rustic wooden buildings being built and marketed to attract hunters, fishermen, photographers, and nature enthusiasts to the beautiful, relaxing, and wild environs of Lake Baikal. Our accommodation was a comfortable cabin with four beds and a masonry heating stove downstairs and an upstairs loft for two additional. Another cabin served as a bunk- house for others in close quarters and our drivers slept in the vans. A much-anticipated banya (bath house) sits amid the snow beside the frozen stream a bit above the cabins and a kitchen and dining area is a short walk through the forest.    This wood-heated banya consists of a changing area on the porch, a preheating area with wooden benches, and the superheated closet where ladles of water are to be splashed to the heated stones ( sometimes, red-hot) to form the required layer of scalding steam along the ceiling which can be snatched down for application to backs, buttocks, and thighs by a deft flick of the birch. Outside, a meter of ice covering the small stream and a hole about one meter square is usually cut through to the shallow water and rocks below. Ice steps transports the mist-shrouded bather into the flowing under the ice stream and a bucket is used to pour the frigid water over sweltering back and shoulders. The joys of the Siberian banya will certainly capture for your further enjoyment and entertainment with your  video or photo cameras  and should speak to the enthusiasm of the team as it readies itself for the coming day's fishing. The combined experience of fire and ice in rapid succession leads to the desired feel  of total exhaustion and relaxation and cold freshen-ups  made of  tasty Siberian taiga-berries   or beers will  quench your  thirst as frequent trips are made between banya and the natural pool.

  

Day 10
March, 03

The Ice Grottoes of Olkhon and  Baikal Polar Spot …

This morning after breakfast we will undertake an easy, safe and interesting trip to the northernmost point of Olkhon- the Cape of Khoboy (meaning “Fang”) which rocky shape reminds of a female’s head with bust. The cape located in the widest part of Lake Baikal and featuring great echo effect is also regarded by the shamanist believers as a sacred spot. This place providing great vistas of Baikal water surface with views of eastern and western shores is also a good  place  for meditation.
 

This morning after breakfast we will undertake an easy, safe and interesting trip to the northernmost point of Olkhon- the Cape of Khoboy (meaning “Fang”) which rocky shape reminds of a female’s head with bust. The cape located in the widest part of Lake Baikal and featuring great echo effect is also regarded by the shamanist believers as a sacred spot. This place providing great vistas of Baikal water surface with views of eastern and western shores is also a good  place  for meditation.
 
 

“Once when we went to Khoboi, the northernmost point of Olkhon Island…I was offered to visit the Virgin Cave. I followed their advice and was awarded with a unique sight. The entrance was adorned with an ornament of ice crystals and icicles, inside there were “crystal chandeliers”, fantastically congealing in the blue twilight. Pristine silence reigned in the mysterious cave. It was a bit harder to get into smaller caves. Ice outgrowth entirely covering all the cliffs hid a number of grottoes. To get inside   one should lie down on the ice and crawl under the hanging icicles and hemlocks. If succeeding in doing so, you will find yourself in the other world filled with ghostly blue light and crystal pearls. It is an enchanting sight, indeed! Sitting with our back to the rock (it was not always possible to be to our full height) we enjoyed light tinges on the ice crystals being perfectly aware that no film could convey it....”–Alexander Aristarkhov.   

 

Another highlight of the trip can be a ride by our ACV to approach the spot where we may have  a chance to see Baikal nerpas – fresh water seals, the lake’s only aquatic mammals which still remain a mystery of lake Baikal to be unraveled. With no natural predators other than humans, the seals are precious living symbols of the lake's uniqueness. Claimed to be the world's most unique fresh-water seals they’re  the cutest, most secretive, and mysterious of marine mammals.  If the seals were recently located to be somewhere close to our route then using special techniques of approaching seals we’ll sneak to them trying not to disturb and take their pictures.

And then we will follow to “Baikal Polar Spot”. Here everything is prepared for our symbolic opening of the “Baikal Polar Spot ” ( above the deepest spot of Lake Baikal -1647 meters deep). Standing above the Baikal Polar spot we arrange a special procedure which will be nice surprise for the tour participants of our expedition.  Then we shall proceed by Nomads ACV along the eastern shore of the Olkhon Island to the MRS station and further to Buguldeika to check in later in the night in Zarechnoye retreat lodge. Here we will have our dinner, another opportunity to go to and enjoy Siberian steam-bath.


 

The Baikal nerpa (Phoca sibirica Gmelin 1788) — is a representative of the order of pinnepeds and the family of real (earless) seals. Nerpa spends most of its life in water, surfacing periodically to breathe. Thanks to the capacity of its blood to hold oxygen nerpa can remain under water for up to 45-60 minutes, although it usually stays there for 20-25 minutes, this is sufficient for it to catch food or escape danger. In water it can reach speeds of up to 25 kilometres an hour, but in normal circumstances it will swim at half the speed. In winter, when Baikal is frozen over, nerpa makes escape holes in the ice. This is an inborn instinct: in an experimental aquarium one and two month old nerpa pups made holes in foam plastic, scratching them out from beneath with their claws. They then poked their noses through to breathe, despite the fact that open water was not far away.

Day 11
March, 04

Date of Final Baikal Achievements …

After breakfast we we’ll go on full day trip by Nomads ACV back to Listvyanka with few stops en route – in the Bolshye Koty settlement and for lunch to be served at the Prospector’s Retreat Lodge.

Upon arrival in Listvyanka we shall check in at the ERSY’s or Nikolay’s Guest house.
To complete the tour there will be special Baikal Farewell Party  organ ised for your followed by the award of all participants with special “Baikal Polar Merdidan-105 Certificates of Winter Journey Achievement” and in memory of your trip accept some gifts from Baikal Discovery and Baikal Nordic Games Festival.

 

Day 12
March, 05

After sleepless Farewell night enjoy breakfast, kindly check out from the hotel for a transfer to the airport to board your flight to… taking away from the lake good memories of your fabulous winter journey! Have a good and safe trip back home!

 

 TO BOOK THIS TOUR FROM GERMANY, AUSTRIA OR SWITZERLAND CONTACT "BAIKAL EXPRESS" at www.baikalexpress.de

 
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