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Extreme Snowmobile Expedition: Baikal from South to North


Difficulty

Comfort
6 days
Age 16+
February - April

Tour Overview

The most beautiful parts of Lake Baikal are Olkhon Island, its offshore islands and the remote, mountainous northern shores. This snowmobile trip takes in all these regions, giving guests a chance to see Baikal’s most spectacular scenery. You will also get to explore prehistoric sites, visit indigenous Buryat villages, spot Baikal seals, relax in natural outdoor hot springs and more.

Highlights

  • Spectacular Mountain scenery of the Baikal and Barguzin ranges
  • Crossing the lake west-east and east-west on snowmobiles
  • Driving on ice between the picturesque Maloe More islands
  • Visiting prehistoric sites
  • Having the chance to spot Siberian stags and Baikal seals
  • Relaxing in natural outdoor hot springs
  • Exploring remote log-cabin villages
  • Witnessing a 2-hour long shamanic ritual as an optional extra
  • Dining out on Lake Baikal’s famously clear ice
  • Marvelling at the lake’s many ice formations and ice caves
  • Overnighting in a mixture of hotels and remote hunting cabins
  • Receiving professional instruction in snowmobile driving

Itinerary

Day 1: Driving on ice among the Maloe More Islands

Early start from Irkutsk at 7am and transfer 4.5 hours to Sakhyurta, a village on the mainland opposite Olkhon Island. We have one hour’s training and instruction with our Arctic Cat snowmobiles, then an early lunch at 12 midday. At 13:00 we set out on the snowmobiles.

First we drive across the frozen surface of the Maloe More (Little Sea), an area of Lake Baikal with numerous rocky islands. We pass several islands held sacred by the indigenous Buryat people, such as Ogoy and Zamogoy. The most iconic of them is Shamanka, located opposite the Buryat village of Khuzir on Olkhon Island. We will see vast ice feeds of Baikal’s famously clear ice, as well as various different ice formations and ice caves.

We head north up the lake via Onguren to Kocherikovo. Dinner and overnight in wooden cabins.

Total distance covered: 100km.

Day 2: Drive north parallel to the 2500 metre high Baikal Mountains

After breakfast we head further north up the lake again. From Cape Ryty onwards the Baikal Mountains begin to rise up on our left with peaks over 2500 metres high. We may be lucky and see Baikal seals on the way.

After 150km we arrive at Kotelnikovskiy hot springs with their attached guest house, where we have dinner and overnight.

Day 3: Cross to hot springs on the eastern shore by hovercraft

Today we take a break from the snowmobiles and cross from the western shore of Lake Baikal to the eastern shore by hovercraft. Great views of the Batguzin Mountains, which tower over the eastern shore of the lake. We arrive at Khakusy hot springs and have lunch on the ice. We then have the day to relax in the natural outdoor springs, whose water temperature is up to 50°C, and explore the surrounding area.

Behind the springs the dense taiga forest starts. The land rises steeply upwards to the cliffs from which the hot water flows. Amazingly, this stream never freezes and retains its heat even with air temperatures of -60°C. As it rises, the steam freezes on nearby trees and forms bizarre ice columns up to 4 metres high.

In the evening we take the hovercraft back to Kotelnikovskiy on the western shore.

Day 4: Drive south-east to Ust-Barguzin

After breakfast we travel south-east, once agin crossing to the eastern shore, although much further south than Khakusy. This will be a long 200km day in tough conditions – high winds, lots of ice hummocks and deep snow. We will pass Davsha village where we can stop to warm up and have some food. After crossing Chivyrkuyskiy and Barguzin Bays and rounding the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula we arrive at Ust-Barguzin, where we check into a hotel and overnight.

Day 5: East-west crossing of Baikal via Ushkani Islands and Baikal seals

We cross Lake Baikal from east to west via the Ushkani Islands, where we have a good chance of seeing Baikal seals. We pass through the islands of the Maloe More once more before arriving at Sakhyurta, where we have dinner and overnight.

Day 6: Return to Irkutsk

Transfer back to Irkutsk.

Price

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Price includes:

  • Transfers from Irkutsk to Sakhyurta and back
  • All food and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Single hotel rooms
  • One snowmobile per participant
  • Hovercraft rental to Khakusy and back
  • Two snowmobile instructor-guides and English-speaking guide
  • Traditional Siberian bath house four times
  • Invitation for tourist visa
  • Rental of snowmobile clothing and helmet

Price does not include:

  • Guiding, transfers, accommodation or food in Irkutsk or Moscow
  • Flights or train tickets to and from Irkutsk
  • Personal expenses
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Rental of cold-weather clothing (other than snowmobile outfit) or sleeping bags

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