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  Main arrow Tour offers and itineraries arrow Winter Tours & Travel arrow Baikal Enchanted In Ice  
 
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Baikal Enchanted in Ice

 

4-WD Winter Safari Journey

 

 

 “If you are stopped suddenly by a penetrating blue and your heart stops, as it sometimes happened only in childhood, from astonishment and delight... If all petty worries, all the vanities of the world, fall away like autumn leaves, and the soul takes wing and is filled with light and silence. If, suddenly, the ready word holds back, and you feel that nature has its own language and that it is now clearly understood. If a simple earthly wonder has entered your life and you have felt it ennobled by this encounter - it means, this is Baikal.” – Mark Sergeev

 

Day 1

Welcome to winter time Irkutsk – “Paris of Siberia”, capital city of its great Eastern part – Siberia’s Microcosm and the gateway to Siberia’s “Pearl” – Lake Baikal!

 

Upon arrival in Irkutsk we meet you at the airport, assist with the luggage and then take you by coach to the Olkhon Island located 240 km away from Irkutsk. With some stops en route it will take about 6 hours to get to Olkhon. Two hundred kilometers north of Irkutsk, our jeep turns east, towards Baikal, and heads up into the highlands and mountains which surround the Lake. Shortly before the pavement ends, at the high point which marks the border between regions, is a special place where offerings with vodka sprinkling are made and colorful ribbons tied on the bushes in respect to Bourhan, the native god.

Our next stop shall be at Elantsy settlement to meet local shaman Valentin Khagdaev, who, following his clan’s traditions, preserves the ancestors’ knowledge, culture, as well as well familiar with healing secrets. During the meeting the shaman will tell you about shamanism, good and evil spirits of Baikal, local customs and everyday life, as well as sing shaman’s songs, read a poem or two about legendary hero of the Buriat epos Gesser and at the end kindly answer your questions. After lunch  Buryat home made cuisine to be served at Valentine’s house, we continue further.  Very soon we get to the MRS settlement to find ourselves right before the biggest island on Lake Baikal – Olkhon. It stretches for 72 km from the North to the South end separates the strait which is called Maloye More or The Small Sea. The island’s comparatively small territory is a combination of taiga, steppe and even a small desert. Its flora and fauna are unusual too. It is believed Olkhon is the home of many tribes and peoples of Central Asia such as huns, turks, and kurykans. One of the legends says “the conqueror of the Universe” Chinggis Khan is buried here.

 

  “Upon arrival at Olkhon Island and its small capital city, Kuzhir (2000 people), I was like a kid in a candy store! Log cabins, open spaces, giant cliffs, a massive lake, rocks to climb, dogs and cows to chase, and surprisingly good food!” – A foreign visitor to the Island

 

Checking in and dinner will be at one of the tourist camps in cozy and clean log-cabins on the Island. 
 

Day 2

After breakfast we drive by 4-WD vehicles to the Holy of Holies of Shamanist and Buddhist believers – the Shaman Cliff known as Burkhan Cape. This cape is associated with many legends and is the place where shamans of the whole Baikal area and even Mongolia held their tailagans (gatherings) and carried on shamanic rituals.  During the Buddhist invasion the Shaman Cliff became one of the bastions of  Buddhism in Lake Baikal area. The locals believe the spirit of Baikal lives inside the Cliff, and the Buryat custom prohibits young ladies to approach the Cliff. Here your guide will show you some mysterious inscriptions in Sanskrit and the Shaman mask depicted on the Craig.Then we walk around the village to experience local way of life, finally returning back to the tourist camp for lunch.Later in the evening we have a chance to experience traditional Siberian steam bath (Banya) and special “birch besom massage”. During your stay at the Banya you’ll be offered a nice cup of tea with some local herbs.Dinner and overnight at the camp.

 

Day 3

After breakfast we check out and leave by 4-WD to the northernmost point of Olkhon – the Cape of Khoboy (meaning Fang) which rocky shape reminds of a female’s head with breast. So, this rock was called the Virgin Craig. It was Alexander Aristarkhov who described this place in winter in a most pleasant way:

 

  “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....”

 

After taking pictures of that “Ice fairy-tale” we drive to the Ust-Bargusin village.Lunch boxes’ll be taken with us. Dinner and overnight is at your home stays.

 

Day 4

After breakfast we continue our 4-WD on Baikal ice safari further to the Bay of Chivyrkuy, where we spend a day fishing and swimming in natural hot springs that even have some healing properties. Also here your local guide will show you how to drill an ice hole, feed our future catch, and catch fish away from the ice hole.Lunch as picnic shall be served on the ice and feature Baikal “ukha” - fish soup with tasty fresh caught Baikal fish, perhaps – famous “omul”. Dinner and overnight – back in our home stays in the Ust-Bargusin.

 

  

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. – John Foster

 

Day 5

After breakfast we check out and proceed by 4-WD drive along the Bargusinskaya valley considered to be the treasure of archeological finds and nature landmarks, further to Ulan-Ude, the capital city of the Buryat Republic. This will be mostly the gravel road that we drive until turning to the highway that leads to Ulan Ude. We will have opportunities to take good pictures en route as well as stop to eat our lunch boxes.Upon arrival in Ulan Ude we check in at the “Sagan Morin” hotel, then have dinner and overnight.

 

Day 6

After breakfast we start out on a walking excursion to see the world’s largest Head of Lenin Monument, visit Center of Tibet Medicine, see other atmospheric sights of the city. Then we drive to the Ivolginsky settlement that takes nearly 1 hour to see the local DATSAN - Buddhist Monastery Gandan Dashi Choinkhorlin which is considered to be the centre of Buddism in Russia. Guided by a monk-student we will visit the main temple, local museum, and the library of Buddhist manuscripts. Here you’ll be also able to attend the service and buy Buddhist souvenirs.  Upon return back to the city we have lunch at the hotel restaurant, and then enjoy free time to explore the city on your own with dinner and overnight back at the hotel.

 

Day 7

After breakfast we check out from the hotel to depart to Irkutsk with lunch en route   in a roadside cafeteria. Upon arrival in Irkutsk check in at the downtown hotel.  In the evening enjoy Farewell Dinner followed by Baikal-2007 Special Certificate Award to each tour participant. Overnight at the hotel.

 

Day 8

After early breakfast we depart to the airport.

 

“If, having drunk of the crystal waters and delighted in the jubilant rollers beating on the pebbles of the shore, lighting up like holiday fireworks, you return to your own hearths and homes and you suddenly feel that something is missing. If you suddenly sense in your soul something bright and elevated. If suddenly you feel you want to get a ticket for a plane or train and once again set off on the road. You understand: THIS IS BAIKAL”. – Mark Sergeev

 

Have a pleasant flight back home!

 

 
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