Lake Baikal Helicopter Tour


Difficulty

Comfort
20 days
Age 12+
February - April

Tour Overview

This trip takes guests on a tour to Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest lake. It is truly an exclusive trip and provides several experiences that no other foreign travelers have had. Guests will go ice diving under the lake, visit restricted solar observatories, fire grenade launchers into the mountains to start avalanches with people whose job that it, visit spectac-ular mountain ranges, gulag concentration camps, nomadic reindeer herders, study the elusive Baikal seal and much more.

Highlights

  • Migrating with nomadic reindeer herders in the Udokan Mountains
  • Exploring remains of uranium-producing gulag in Kodar Mountains
  • Firing military cannon to create avalanche and keep railways safe
  • Ice diving in the world’s oldest and deepest lake
  • Joining scientists for nighttime observation of cosmos at astronomical observatory
  • Visit shamanic sites and witness rituals of indigenous Buryat people
  • Visit breeding areas of famous Baikal seal
  • Stay at the best luxury hotel on the shores of Lake Baikal
  • Visiting alpine lakes and glaciers by helicopter
  • Heli-skiing down Mount Leningradskiy

Itinerary

Day 1: Fly into Moscow

Fly into Moscow. Overnight in the best room in either the Radisson Blu Sheremetevo or the Airhotel Domodedovo.

Day 2: Flight from Moscow to Irkutsk

Business class flight Moscow – Irkutsk, the gateway to Lake Baikal and the biggest city on its shores. Overnight in the best room at the International Hotel Sayen.

Day 3: Exploring southern Baikal by helicopter

Helicopter around southern Lake Baikal. Stops include:

  • Visit to scientific observatory with huge satellite telescope. Join scientists for night tie observations of the cosmos. Visit museum run by scientists for observation of local fauna such as Baikal seals. Join scientists for drilling of hole in Baikal ice and collection of flora samples to analyze pollution levels.
  • Bolshoe Goloustnoe, a flat plain on a beautiful bay of Lake Baikal surrounded by steep hills. The top halfes of the hills are covered in pine forests and the bottom half in grass and wild flowers. Climbing even part of the way up these hills will reward guests with stunning views of the lake and surrounding area.
  • Circum-Baikal Railway. Visit some of the engineering feats, such as tunnels through mountains, bridges across valleys. The volume of earth moved during its construction was similar to the Suez Canal.

Overnight in the best room at the International Hotel Sayen.

Day 4: Ice diving for sample collection and underwater fauna viewing

Ice diving with scientists in Lake Baikal for sample collection and to view the underwater fauna, such as Baikal oilfish, grayling, omul, Baikal seals if lucky.

Day 5: Fly into inaccessible mountain region of Tofalaria

Transfer by helicopter (2 hours ) to Tofalaria area, home to the 800-strong indigenous Siberian people known as the Tofalars. This spectacularly isolated mountainous region is only accessible by helicopter. Explore it by snowmobile, go ice fishing and learn about the Tofalars’ hunting-based culture, as well as the hundreds of species of birds and over 3,000 species of plants.

Overnight in suite at the Tofolar Cordon.

Day 6: Explore Tofalaria by snowmobile

After a half day more in Tofalaria we transfer by helicopter (2 hours) to Irkutsk. Night at Hotel in Irkutsk.

Day 7: Buddhist-shamanist indigenous people and astronomical observatory

Reserved day in case of bad weather – visit Irkutsk historical Museum and an organ music concert in case of bad weather OR in case of good weather transfer by helicopter (4 hours ) to/from the spectacular Tunka mountain valley with its indigenous Buddhist-shamanist Buryat people and 90+ hot springs on the Mongolian border. Visit the medicinal hot springs and Buddhist stupas and datsans. In the traditional Buryat religion each spring has its own god, so there is a shrine next to each one where offerings are left. Visit Badary Radioastrophysical Observatory, which requires permission from the scientists and from Russian security service the FSB. Night at Hotel in Irkutsk.

Day 8: Indigenous people and shamanic rituals on Olkhon island

Transfer by helicopter to Olkhon Island in the middle of Baikal, a shamanic centre for the local Buryat people. Driving tour of the island from north to south, taking in some incredible sights, quaint log cabin indigenous villages and sacred shamanic sites.

Day 9: Studying geology of Baikal on Maloe More islands

Today we travel by hovercraft around the Maloe More islands with geologists. This is one of the main places they study the formation of Lake Baikal and the surrounding area, and they will give us an introduction to it all.

In the afternoon we continue north by hovercraft to the Ushkani Islands, one of the principal breeding areas for the famous Baikal seal. On the way we will have a good chance of seeing seals, including their young, which will have been born recently.

Overnight at scientific research station on the Ushkani Islands in quite basic conditions.

Day 10: Studying Baikal seals with researchers

Spend the day studying seals with the scientists. Overnight at research station.

Day 11: Fly to northern shore and Baikal’s number one luxury hotel

Fly on to the remote northern shore of Lake Baikal. Almost all tourists visit the southern shore around Irkutsk. The northern shore is a rarely-visited wilderness with absolutely spectacular scenery and very little human habitation. While the Trans-Siberian Railway runs through Irkutsk on the southern shore, only it’s little-known sister, the BAM, runs along the northern shore, 750km further north. The BAM runs parallel to the Trans-Siberian and was built through almost uninhabited wilderness to provide an alternative means of transport in case the Trans-Siberian ever fell into Chinese hands.

Night at Baikal residence VIP hotel. The whole territory will be reserved exclusively for you, without other guests.

Day 12: Ice fishing for endemic species and relaxing in hot springs

Transfer by helicopter to the stunning Froliha Lake for ice fishing for Arctic char and the incredibly rare Davatchan fish that is only found in this area. Fly on to Hakusy hot springs for bathing. Overnight in Baikal Residence.

Day 13: Alpine lake and glacier on tallest mountain in Baikal Range

Transfer by helicopter to/from Kotelnikovskiy hot spring, whose waters can be up to +70C.  Fly to nearby constantly-moving Cherskiy Glacier, which is 3 – 4km long and located on Mount Cherskiy, at 2588 meters the highest mountain in the Baikal Range. Visit the spectacular alpine Lake Guitar and nearby chain of waterfalls 150 meters long. Night at Baikal residence VIP hotel.

Day 14: Heli skiing and firing cannon to cause controlled avalanche

RESERVE DAY FOR WEATHER. Transfer by helicopter (3 hours) / land transport (depending on weather) – to another area of the North Baikal mountains. Option to help ski down Mount Leningradskiy on one of two routes either 2km or 4.5km long with an altitude descent of 550 meters or 850 metres. OR, if the conditions are right,  a day with avalanche team in Davan area,  shooting from Canon 100 MM or portable grenade Avalanche launcher. Night at Baikal residence VIP hotel. It is, of course, possible that conditions will be right on one of the other days, in which case we will need to substitute the avalanche for the activities on that day.

Day 15: Fly to encampment of nomadic reindeer herders in Udokan Mountains

Transfer by helicopter (5,5 hours) from Severobyakalsk to Chara in Zabaykalskiy Region. Fly south from Chara into the spectacularly remote Udokan Mountains to an encampment of nomadic Evenki reindeer herders with 3,000 deer near Chitkanda Lake. Night at reindeer herders in tents.

Day 16: Immersion in daily life of nomads

Live with the nomads, immersing ourselves in their everyday life and work with their animals. Explore the surrounding area on snowmobiles and reindeer sledges, go ice fishing. Either today or tomorrow we will accompany the nomads on a migration to new pastures if weather conditions are right.

Day 17: Fly to Novaya Chara

Full day with reindeer herders then transfer by helicopter (2,5 hours) from reindeer herders to Chara. Overnight in the Hotel Kodar.

Day 18: Fly to well-preserved gulag camp high in Kodar Mountains

Transfer by helicopter north from Chara into the Kodar Mountains to Mramornoe Valley and to Borskiy gulag concentration camp. This was one of the USSR’s harshest gulags, where thousands of people were frozen, starved and worked to death mining uranium in the race to build the first atomic bomb. It is accessible only by helicopter or by a multi-day trek from Chara, so very few people know of its existence even today and even fewer have visited it. Explore the camp with its buildings, watch towers, barbed wire fences, mini railway, mines and more. Great views on surrounding mountains, including Mount BAM, at 3072 meters the highest mountain in Eastern Siberia. Night at «Kadar» Hotel.

Day 19: Explore gulag camp then fly to Irkutsk

Transfer by helicopter (7 hours) from Chara to Irkutsk with stop in Nizhnenagarsk for refueling and lunch.

Day 20: Fly back to Moscow

Flight to Moscow from Irkutsk.

Price

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Price per person: $ {{parseFloat(price).toFixed(0)}}

Price includes:

  • The best room in the best accommodation available in every place visited.
  • Rental of Eurocopter as per route outlined above
  • Business class flights from Moscow – Irkutsk – Moscow
  • All meals prepared by personal cook
  • Rental of snowmobiles and hovercraft
  • All activities, entrance fees and transfers
  • Support team and vehicles while with the reindeer herders, as the helicopter will not be able to stay there
  • English- and Russian-speaking guide
  • Fees to all scientists, researchers, reindeer herders for hosting us and accompanying us
  • All permits required for accessing closed scientific facilities and border zone areas near Mongolia
  • Satellite phone for emergency calls
  • Invitation for Russian tourist visa

Price does not include:

  • International flights
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Satellite phone for personal calls. Minutes can be purchased for 150 rubes per minute.
  • Guiding or activities in Moscow. This can be arranged if required.
  • Excess baggage on flight Moscow – Irkutsk – Moscow.

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