Lake Baikal contains 22% of the world fresh surface water and is with 1,642 m the deepest lake in the world. But more importantly it's stunningly beautiful year round. Who knew Russia's nature was so impressive, unique and beautiful! In winter is fully covered with ice, so thick that it's used as a highway. The water is so clear that you can still see trough it and you'll see blocks of ice in a very strong blue color! There are all kinds of winter activities like dog sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing and travelling by hoover boat. In summer it's amazingly beautiful and you can do customized hikes along the Great Baikal Trail, enjoy the beaches and cover part of the trail by canoe.
If you speak Russian and prepare yourself very well it might be possible to travel without a guide. But still, if it's your first visit we recommend to organize it according to your wishes with a local tour operator. All accommodation, transport, equipment and food will be arranged, which makes your trip super efficient. Both group tours and private tours are possible and our guide was very valuable and humble, so it was a perfect setup.
You have to like rough nature and don't mind basic conditions, but since most tour operators can customize according to your preferences, there must be something suitable for everyone. For us the basic conditions were part of the fun of discovering this rough and impressive territory and it added a lot to our intense joy on this trip. How often can you experience a 3 day hike along the most impressive coast line, moving from hut to hut and hardly meet anyone and feel you are there alone?
There are direct flights from Moscow to Irkutsk, and since this city is definitely worth a visit, treat yourself to one night in a luxurious hotel after your back to nature adventure ;)
Photo credits: Bianca Gommers