Local trips: Lake Baikal



•    Peschanaya bay (1 day).  Take a hydrofoil at Irkutsk riverside station and first go down the Angara for several hours, and then between the rocky shores of Baikal. During the journey you can take many snapshots of Baikal. The destination is Peschanaya Bay. Here you can see so-called "walking-on-stilts" trees. They are larches with ramified root system. The bay has a very beautiful beach, where you can bathe, although the water, as everywhere in Baikal, is rather cold. It warms up only in August. There are several paths going from the bay. They help to understand what real taiga is.

•    Circumbaikal Railroad (1 day). In 1903 there was constructed a railroad, rounding Southern Baikal. However, after Irkutsk hydropower plant had been constructed in 1973 Angara segment of the railroad was flooded. And Baikal segment of the railroad was turned into tourist attraction. On Sundays old steam locomotive goes there. At the stations it is met by people clothed in Siberian garments of the past years, making various performances. Generally, it is a travel to Siberian village of the 19th century.

Trips starting from Listvyanka:

If you decided to go to Listvyanka, it isn’t a bad choice too. There are many hotels in this small settlement, from comfortable facilities complying with world standards to private B&B establishments.

Listvyanka is located at the very source of Angara. The main tourist attraction is performance of tamed nerpes (Baikal seals).
As to visiting beautiful places of Baikal, there are some problems with regular tours, but if you have enough money, you can easily charter a boat for any private excursion. But remember that it will cost several hundreds of USD.

•    Boat trip to the source of Angara River (3-4 hours). Over 300 rivers flow into Baikal, and only one river flow out of it, the Angara. Baikal's depth difference is very conspicuous there. Several dozens of meters of the source the lake's depth is about 1400 m., and near the mouth of the river its depth is only 5 m. At the mouth of the river there is the Shaman Rock. There are many legends connected with it. It is believed that wishes thought of on the Rock are sure to come true. But it is rather difficult to climb on the rock, as the flow is very swift and water is very cold in this place. And if somebody succeeds in it, the boat is quickly carried away and his only wish is «to get out from this rock».
 
•    Ship trip to Circumbaikal Railroad (6 hours). During this trip the ship goes along the picturesque rocky shore of Baikal to the bay. There you leave the ship and go on the old road for about a kilometer, including through the old and fairly long tunnel built 1903. Near the abandoned station «Katorzanka» tourists take a bath, return to the ship and go back.

•    Tramp over the mountain path to the village Bolshiye Koty (half a day). To the north from Listvyanka, you can take a walk over the mountains of Baikal. If you are going to walk a little and return to Listvyanka, it is better to go over the mountains in the immediate vicinity of the shore. It must be noted that the first three kilometers of the path are very hard and in some place even dangerous. It is desirable to have easy footwear and good shape.

In several places the path rounds the rocks and gets so narrow that you'll have to go pressing yourself to the rocky wall for several dozens of meters. Here you can feel yourself the heroes of «The Lord of the Rings», Mr Frodo and Sam, climbing up the mountain path to Mordor.

In the photo you can see the dangerous sections of this path, even though some tourists go there with knapsacks, so if there were no rains before, you mightn’t be afraid. At the very end of rocky segment you'll have to climb down to the beach with the help of small steps carved in the tree, and that will the end of all difficulties. Further the pass easily goes along coniferous forests and birch groves. Rocky landscapes of Baikal are very picturesque.

It must be noted that the nearest village Bolshiye Koty is about 20 km off, therefore, if want to return to Listvyanka you shouldn’t go very far. If you decided to put a tent on the shore, then, surely, you can go as far as Peschanaya Bay (60 km.), where you can take a boat to Irkutsk.

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