Visiting OLKHON ISLAND in winter is an awesome adventure! Possibility to see miles and miles of frozen water, observe ice caves, hear and sometimes see how THE LAKE cracks and moves is something surreal ! Unlike in summer, winter trips let you be in touch with nature without seeing many other tourists around… This tour is suggested as a MUST DO for everyone who can spend 2 day and 1 night in the area.
Description of the 2 day / 1 night Tour to Olkhon island in winter (February – March)
View Way to Olkhon island in a larger map
Irkutsk – Lunch stop: 220 km, takes 3.5 – 4 hrs
Lunch – 30-40min
Lunch stop – Khuzir, Olkhon Island is 80 km, takes 2 hr.
You’ll be picked up from my hostel (or train station or any other place in Irkutsk) at 8 am. Vehicle: a 8 sit minibus or a car. We will be driving through vast open spaces – so called Buryat Steppes – where we eventually see herds of caws and horses on green fields.
In 3 hrs, we’ll stop for lunch in an off road cafe (NOT included). Meals there are inexpensive but good. The menu usually has 2 or 3 salads, 2-3 variety of soups and -always – a local specialty – big meat dumplings – “Posy”. Those cafes selling Posy are scattered along the main driving routes and called “Posnaya”.
In winter season – February and March – we drive across the small sea for 10-12km using the ice road. It is an official way with marks and signs where the ice is constantly being checked and cleaned.
Once we are on the island, we have to drive another 36km, 40min.
You’ll see wooden polls with colourfull ribbons along the road. The island still remains being the truly shamanic place. Those polls are the ‘borissa‘ – horse tethering post – a mark, where travelers have to stop (or slow down) and drop on the ground a little item (usually coin or piece of material) to show their respect ot the spirit of this area. In fact, dropping a coin is a routine daily ritual conducted every time you pass though this place. Presumably, once a year, people from the villages nearby should have a proper ceremony and sacrifice an animal.
We will be getting the main village of the island – Khuzir – in the afternoon, around 1-2 pm.
We will be spending all 3 days of our tour at the same place in Khuzir: BAIKALER RURAL HOSTEL aka “U Olgi“
Accommodation is in the main wooden house or a wooden guesthouse, twins. The place has running water and flesh toilet. For 200R extra Banya / Sauna can be arranged WHAT IS BANYA AND WHAT TO DO THERE
After check in, we will have a walking excurtiona around the village, see the famous Burkhan Rock and walk on ice.
Dinner. Meals are home cooked. Most of meals are based on famous Baikal fish ‘Omul’. Vegetarian meals can be offered on request.
At 10 am we are picked up by a local guy on a 4WD minibus.This excursion is the great way to explore the Northern part of the island on ice. Total driving mileage for this day is 70km.
We will be driving along the Eastern shore of the island ON THE ICE. Our drive is combined with stops to observe the cliffs and landscapes and – of course – to take photos.
We will be visiting the most famous Cliffs of the island: ‘Three Brothers’ and ‘Khoboi / Tusk’. As we drive on ice, we have a change to inspect the footsteps of the cliffs and their caves. Countless icicles make the inside of those caves looking like the Snow Queen palace!
Khoboi Cliff from the ice looks like a lady. According to the legend she used to be a wife of one of the spirit of the island. However, her behavior was so bad that Baikal spirits turned her into a stone till her character improves.
Also, end of the island is a start for enormous ice crack which appears at the same place. It is a separation of Northern Baikal ice plate and Middle Baikal ice plate. So, one we are there we can try to walk around the lady cliff if the chaotic broken ice plates will let us to.
We’ll be eating our snack lunch and have hot tea in the car.
We return to our homestay in Khuzir by 4pm.
Tea with cookies.
Returning by road to Irkutsk by 10-11 pm.
En route: Dinner (not included).
Overnight in Irkutsk at BAIKALER HOSTEL can be arranged for extra charge.
Price for Feb and March:
1 person pays 23000 Rub
1 person pays 15000 Rub (if the group is 2 people)
1 person pays 14000 Rub (if the group is 3 people)
1 person pays 13000 Rub (if the group is 4 people)
1 person pays 11000 Rub (if the group is 5-6 people)
Prices include all services, pointed in the itinerary:
private car (and driver) transportation, 1 night accommodation, meals as noted (day 1: D, day 2: B) , local guide-interpreter services, national park fees, 4WD Jeep rent and taxes. No hidden costs.
what to bring:
– moisturizing facial / hand cream
– vaseline lipstick
– compact crampons
– 1 liter metal thermos
– flesh lite
– extra batteries
– extra thermal socks