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  Main arrow Tour offers and itineraries arrow Winter Tours & Travel arrow Winter Baikal Motives  
 
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Winter Baikal Motives

 

Duration: 5 nights/ 6 days; January – April

 

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1


Welcome to winter time Irkutsk – “Paris of Siberia”, capital 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, and after assisting with the luggage we shall enjoy Baikal Discovery short welcome tea-party.
Transfer to the “Pribaikalskaya” hotel located 60 km away from Irkutsk near the mouth of the Angara River (the lake’s only outlet). The hotel facilities besides modest accommodation (rooms with amenities) and great panoramic views over Lake Baikal include 2 restaurants, a bar, sauna, conference hall and good complex outside for winter outdoor activities including alpine skiing center with down hill outfit available for rent.
  After checking in and some time at leisure we depart for a guided tour of the “Taltsy” Open-Air museum of Wooden Architecture and Ethnography located at the 47th km on the way from Irkutsk to Baikal. The Taltsy Museum is a unique display of original wooden structures scattered all over the huge area and complete with great number of household items dating back to XVII-XIX cent. This one-of-a-kind exhibition, that includes both native Siberians and Russian sections, unfolds in a truly exciting story about Siberia’s past: farmsteads of well-to-do peasant families, huts, log cabins and houses built of pine and larch-tree, broad yards, storehouses, utensils, and even dog houses – all of them are genuine. In this museum you can take pictures of an authentic distaff, Russian fire stove with “palati” ( sleeping boards),  icons placed in the so-called “red” corner and many more.

 

  

It's fun to wander around this little wooden village, especially when there's so much snow about. Great fun was had. It also gives an idea as to what life may have been like back in those days.-  J. Hood, Salisbury, Great Britain

 

After visiting the museum we’ll have lunch at real “Zaimka” (Siberian Retreat Lodge) located at the picturesque Angara river bank. Hospitable hosts meet us with traditional bread-and-salt greeting ceremony. After lunch enjoy famous Russian Troika ride on horse sleighs (with three horses put in a harness), followed by songs and accordion playing, and, finally, undertake a highlight ride of the day down the  Russia’s highest and breathtaking slide.
A bit exhausted we come back to the hotel to enjoy our first evening in Siberia having dinner, playing billiards and pool. If your kids want to accompany you, the “Pribaikalskaya” kids’ fun centre is at your service.

 

Day 2
After breakfast we depart to the Baikal Ecology museum, which exposition is devoted to the history of Lake Baikal exploration, its flora and fauna. Besides samples of bottom sediments, minerals, and Baikal endemic fish, you’ll see the Baikal nerpa, the only fresh water seals in the world.

  

 

 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.


On the way to the restaurant, where one can try barbecue made of fresh caught Baikal omul, we shall enjoy our walk along Baikal shore and frozen surface of the lake. The Baikal ice, which thickness reaches 1,5 meters, is as transparent as one can see bottom inhabitants at small depths.
After lunch we’ll visit the Baikal sled dogs’ centre. When having short excursion around the centre you will see Kamchadal – special breed of sled dogs developed at Kamchatka. The bravest of us can ride on the dog-drawn sleds that helps to revive spirits and keep warm in a cold winter day.
After eventful day we return back to the “Pribaikalskaya” hotel. Dinner and overnight.

 

Day 3
Today we’ll go on full day safari on snowmobiles to the Circum Baikal Railroad - the unique monument of the Russian engineering thought and “the Golden Buckle on the Steel Belt” as it was called in pre-revolutionary Russia. This well-chosen epithet meant the Circum Baikal Loop (84 km) connected two railway lines from Moscow and Vladivostok “torn apart” by the Lake but its construction cost much more than the construction of the Trans Siberian Railway.

 

Circum Baikal

 

The total first cost of the road was 58,625,745 roubles, or an average of about 329,000 roubles per mile. However, repairs and alterations since have increased this to about 60,000,000 roubles, and various improvements, such as retaining walls and masonry galleries, were still being added when we last passed over it in October, 1905. – Captain Sydney A. Cloman, in the Journal of the U. S. Infantry Association. 


Lunch of tasty Siberian cuisine shall be served at the cozy “Yakhont” restaurant at Port Baikal railway station.
Dinner and overnight – back at the “Pribaikalskaya” hotel.

 

Day 4
Enjoy this day at leisure or go in for mountain skiing, sleighing and tubing; play snowballs with your kids, drive snowmobiles, play billiards and checks. In the evening you can experience traditional Siberian Banya (steam bath).

 

Day 5
After breakfast and checking out we leave to Irkutsk, the capital city of Eastern Siberia.
Upon arrival in Irkutsk you check in at a ***-star hotel. 
After lunch we start out on an exciting walking tour along the old streets of winter Irkutsk including the central Kirov square, where the city’s Ice Township with city’s main Christmas Tree is traditionally constructed on the New Year’s eve. Next to the square there is the city historical centre with the ensemble of three churches and the Eternal Flame Memorial. Here your guide will tell you about the history and culture of Irkutsk, you walk on the Angara river embankment and take pictures of the most atmospheric sights of the city.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

 

 Banya

 After the first good sweat is induced, it is customary to cool off in the breeze outdoors, or splash with cold water or in a lake or river. The banya is then entered again, and steam is caused by throwing small amounts of water upon the rocks in the heater. The second sweat is commonly the first time venik would be used, but it is not uncommon to wait until the third session. After each sweat, cooling off is repeated, and patrons may take this break to drink beer, tea or other beverages, play games or relax in good company in an antechamber to the steam room.
Going into the steam room is alternated with showers of cold water and/or baths, as well as standing in the breeze to cool off outside. In the parilka people often hit themselves or others with bushes of dried branches and leaves from white birch or other suitable wood (called venik, веник) in order to improve the circulation. In summer usually fresh bushes, in winter bushes that have been dried and then moistened in hot water previous to using them are taken. In the winter when it gets dark early, people may roll in the snow with no clothes on, or may run into cold lakes through holes cut into the ice for this purpose. – from Free encyclopedia Wikipedia 

 

 Day 6
After early breakfast we check out from the hotel and take transfer to the airport, where we say “farewell” to this hospitable Siberian land.

 

Have a good flight back home!

 

Note
Those who come to Irkutsk from February, 26 till March, 04, have a good chance to attend and even participate in Maslenitsa (Shrovetide) celebration – the festival of seeing off winter and welcoming spring, which is celebrated annually at the Open-Air Museum of Taltsy (see Day 1).

 

 Shrovetide

 Maslenitsa or Pancake week is a Russian folk holiday that dates back to the pagan times. It is celebrated during the last week before the Great Lent that is the seventh week before the Easter. Maslenitsa is a direct analog of the Roman Catholic Carnival.
Maslenitsa has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian. On the pagan side, Maslenitsa is a sun festival, celebrating the imminent end of the winter.
On the Christian side, Maslenitsa is the last week before the onset of the Great Lent.
During Lent, meat, fish, dairy products and eggs are forbidden. Furthermore, Lent also excludes parties, secular music, dancing and other distractions from the spiritual life. Thus, Maslenitsa represents the last chance to meet with the worldly delights.
The essential element of Maslenitsa celebration are bliny, Russian pancakes, popularly taken to symbolize the sun. Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods still allowed by the Orthodox traditions: butter, eggs, and milk.
Maslenitsa also includes masquerades, snowball fights, sledding, swinging on swings and plenty of sleigh rides. The mascot of the celebration is usually a brightly dressed straw effigy of Lady Maslenitsa, formerly known as Kostroma.
As the culmination of the celebration, on Sunday evening, Lady Maslenitsa is stripped of her finery, and put to the flames of a bonfire. Any remaining blintzes are also thrown on the fire. Lady Maslenitsa's ashes are buried in the snow (to fertilize the crops), all people ask for forgiveness from each other, and the Great Lent begins. This last day of Maslenitsa is also called 'Forgiveness Sunday'.– from Free Encyclopedia Wikipedia 


 
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