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Baikal Lake

Trekking Olkhon Island + Rafting the Irkut river

10 days / 9 nights

Explore sights and sunny beaches of Olkhon island — 60 km on foot (3 days). Taste Baikal omul and kharius — smoked and grilled on fire. Rafting on the Middle Irkut river (150 km / 3 days).

Group departures in 2017: 24 of June, 15 of July, 5 of August 2017

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Tour programme:

Day 1

Arrival to Irkutsk by morning flight.
We offer you to begin your trip with the capital of Eastern Siberia – ancient city Irkutsk. Touring the city you will see the historical centre, the embankment of the Angara river, monuments of architecture and Znamenskiy Russian Orthodox convent with one of the most beautiful Siberian cathedrals noted for its iconostasis and graves on the territory (graves of the Decembrists, Gregory Shelikhov – the Russian Christopher Columbus and others). After the sightseeing, you will have a chance to buy some original presents at a souvenir store or an antique shop.

Besides, it is worthwhile visiting one of the city’s museums (for extra charge): Local Lore Museum – one of the oldest in Russia, Art gallery with a marvelous collection of pieces of art, or the Decembrists’ museum telling about the revolt of the 14 December, 1825, its participants and their life in the Siberian exile.

Itinerary in brief:  10:00 – Meeting with a guide at the Irkutsk airport. Transfer to the hotel, check-in. City sightseeing tour. Time at leisure.

Day 2

After breakfast you will set off on a trip to Baikal. Your way to the lake will head through vast steppes, ancient Buryat villages, over the magnificent Pribaikalskiy range’s spurs covered with the Siberian taiga forest which then change to Mongolian-type landscapes of the Tazheranskaya steppe.

Boarding the ferry to cross the famous Olkhon Gate Strait separating Olkhon from the mainland. It will take you about 40 min. to get to the island; on the way you will see both the Maloye (Lesser) and the Bolshoye (Larger) Seas – two parts of Baikal split by Olkhon.

In Zagli Bay (Tashkay Guba) you take out from the ferry, and it is here that you start exploring Olkhon’s tremendous expanses and feeling surprise at this natural masterpiece. Zagli takes its pride in the record-breaking high amount of sunshine (more than on Riga coast) and low precipitation (as in dry Kazakh steppes).

The bay is connected with the warm Lake Noor. Here you will make a stop and set up tents for overnight.

Itinerary in brief: breakfast at the hotel. Bus transfer to Olkhon (300 km, ~ 6 hours). Start trekking (~ 5 km). Setting up tents. Dinner cooked on the campfire. Overnight in tents. (Meals incl.: breakfast, dinner).

Day 3

Hiking has numerous advantages: you may choose any direction, stop at any interesting spot, discern the things which are not noticeable through a car window, and take some unique pictures.

Today you will have long but interesting trekking along the west coast of the legendary island. First, scenic Khool Bay, where the famous local omul population is concentrated, and Khorin-Irgee (Horse’s Head) Peninsula, where Genghis Khan’s warriors are believed to have had a stopover; then – Khorgoy Peninsula with remnants of ancient fortifications built by the Kurykans, and rocky Shara-Shulun Cape facing Baikal’s purest island Ogoy topped with the sacred Buddhist Stupa of Enlightenment.

In the evening you will be rewarded by hearty dinner by the bonfire and sound sleep serenaded by the lulling music of waves.

Itinerary in brief: breakfast at the camp. Trekking (~ 20 km). Picnic lunch en route (boxed lunch). Dinner cooked on the campfire. Overnight in tents. (Meals incl.: breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Day 4

In the morning you hit the road again! Your route runs along the shore of Shebet Bay and further above Shebet promontory, precipitous and inaccessible from the sea. In the Buryat language “shaebeae” means “wall”. In ancient times the Kurykans fenced the promontory from the mainland by a stone wall.

The final point of your itinerary today will be Togay Bay. Next to the Bay there is an interesting lake named Khankhoy. In the north the lake is separated from Baikal by a mighty cliff range, and is connected with it in the east by a narrow channel in the sandy spit. The lake is known for its warm water and fish abundance, which makes it a tourist mecca, especially for anglers.

Itinerary in brief: breakfast at the camp. Trekking (~ 20 km). Picnic lunch en route (boxed lunch). Dinner cooked on the campfire. Overnight in tents. (Meals incl.: breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Day 5 Today your destination is the capital of Olkhon – fishermen’s village Khuzhir. Here you will change tents for cozy log cabins, relax in the hot Russian banya (for extra charge), and those missing the civilization will be able to charge mobile phones.

Itinerary in brief: breakfast at the camp. Trekking (~ 20 km).

Picnic lunch en route (boxed lunch). Accommodation at a tourist lodge. Dinner at the lodge. (Meals incl.: breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Day 6

You will spend the major part of this day traveling by bus: first – back to Irkutsk by the already familiar highway, and then – by the scenic Kultuk road. Twisting through the rolling woodland the serpentine road will eventually lead you to Baikal again, but this time – to its extreme south, Kultuk village. Here at an observation platform unfolding a breathtaking panorama, you will have a stopover to take pictures and part with Baikal till new visits. Some 20 km more – and here you are, on the bank of the beautiful Irkut river, which tomorrow will become the water part of your trip.

Itinerary in brief: breakfast at the lodge. Transfer to Irkutsk. (320 km, ~ 6 hours). Transfer to the rafting start-point (120 km, ~ 2 hours). Dinner cooked on the campfire. Overnight in tents. (Meals incl.: breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Day 7 The Irkut is one of the biggest tributaries of the Angara river. Coming from the cold spurs of the Eastern Sayan it calmly finishes its way in Irkutsk. Breaking through the Tunka mountains the Irkut forms the scenic Zyrkuzun gorge about 100 km long, where the rafting route heads through. On the first day your itinerary lies in a deep valley with plummeting high sides resembling giant rocky walls. Today you will train such things as the interaction between the team members, strict observance of the guide’s instructions and learn the character and peculiarities of overcoming obstructions – small riffles and shallows. Rafting does not require significant physical efforts – just the precise teamwork and companionship. En route, at the sites suitable for mooring you will have stopovers for taking pictures, lunch, and overnight.

Itinerary in brief: breakfast at the camp. Rafting (~ 60 km). Boxed lunch en route. Dinner cooked on the campfire. Overnight in tents. (Meals incl.: breakfast, dinner).

Day 8

The second rafting day is full of obstructions and magnificent settings. The most prominent obstacle today is the Big Rapid (Class III) at the gorge’s outlet challenging by its considerable slope, power and – during floods – waves up to 1.5 m.

After the Big Rapid, the smaller ones (Class II) – Kosaya Shivera, 1 km long, Byk (Bull) and Motsky – seem sort of attraction, still being serious obstructions.

Itinerary in brief: breakfast at the camp. Rafting (~ 60 km). Boxed lunch en route. Dinner cooked on the campfire. Overnight in tents. (Meals incl.: breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Day 9

This day concludes both the rafting and the whole tour.

Today you will see a totally different part of the Irkut: the banks get much lower, stream slows to a family-friendly pace, riffles are interspersed with reaches and the riverbed becomes up to 200 m. wide. You may freely indulge in watching the Siberian taiga’s beauty – there are no obstructions to overcome. On a hot sunny day, rafting teams most often cover this stretch of the route “overboard”, until the red-brown Shaman cape rising on the horizon signals the close finish. After mooring and takeout, it is a little bit sad to part with the raft, which has become sort of home over the past 150 km.

The bus will bring you back to the city with its rush, traffic jams and comfort. After the past journey, all this seems alien and odd. Well, this is not the end of your travel – just a short break before a new one!

Itinerary in brief: breakfast at the camp. Rafting (~ 30 km). Boxed lunch en route. Transfer to Irkutsk (~ 1.5 hours). Approximate time of the end of the tour – 19:00. (Meals incl.: breakfast, lunch). Accommodation in Angara 2* hotel.

Day 10 End of the tour.

Tour cost, per person: 48000 roubles (in a group)
single supplement (hotels and lodges): 5000 roubles
 
Tour cost includes::
accommodation at hotels and lodges in Irkutsk (2 nights), on Olkhon (1 nights) on twin-sharing basis; twin acommodation in tents; meals as per programme; all transfers and excursions as per programme; guides’ services*; museum entrance fees as per programme, camp and rafting equipments. Russian visa support letter.

* the tour is led by Russian-speaking guides, guides-interpreters are provided for extra charge upon request.
 

Cost does not include:
Flights, alcoholic drinks. Visa to Russia. Personal sleeping-bags.