This trip will lead you to great wide valleys near Lake Baikal. You will experience different landscapes, hot water springs and last but not least, the Lake Baikal up close. There’s much to learn about the different cultures and ways of life of the local people, nature, fauna and especially flora.
In the morning of our first day in Irkutsk, I gladly await you in front of your hotel, the train station or airport. Firstly, we’ll go to the market and shop for all necessities for the next few days. Before noon, we’ll comfortably start our trip. We’ll drive through the outskirts of Irkutsk and arrive on the Magistral Moscow-Vladivostok.
Well, we aren’t going that far. The drive will take about two hours and goes through the diverse Olcha-Plateau right before we’ll finally arrive at Lake Baikal after a long decline.
Near the village of Kultuk, we’ll stop directly at the Lake where you can relax from the exertions of the travel on a deckchair. Or maybe a refreshing bath in Lake Baikal? You will spent your first night in the travel Vehicle.
We’ll leave the Lake and drive to the picturesque nature reserve of the Tunka valley. On the way, near Bystraja, we’ll visit the sculpture park of artist Andrej V. Mikhailov, until we arrive at the spa Arshan at the foot of the Khamar-Daban-Mountains, also called “Davos of Siberia”. It is much more modest then Davos though. Arshan is a beautiful little village with a big spa and different buildings for spa Treatment.
We are going to stay the night in a nice guest house, the travel vehicle will be parked at the fencing. You have the possibility to take a nice walk in the spa gardens to the mineral water springs and gaze at unusual herbs and teas in the market stalls
If you want to take a sunrise-hike in the morning, we’ll have to go to bed early the evening before. The exhausting and steep hike to Pik Ljubvi takes about 3.5 hours. To get to the summit in time, we’ll have to start our march at two o’clock in the morning.
After returning, no matter if we take a night- or day-hike, we can recreate in the guest house. A visit to a Banja (Russian sauna) works wonders after such a tour!
Alternatively, we can take a 1.5 hours long, comfortable hike to the well-known waterfall, which we’ll connect with a trip on rarely walked paths to the cold mineral water springs Alt-Arshan in the deeply hidden boreal forest. This hike takes about three hours there and back and is mostly straight ahead.
Our ride today will take around one hour and leads us to the spa gardens of Zhemchug. We’ll place ourselves on the big “campsite” at the banks of the river Irkut, which gave its name to the city of Irkutsk.
In Zhemchug is a hot water spring, which accidently has been found 40-50 years ago during drilling work. Today there’s 55°C hot mineral water in a basin. Meanwhile, a spa has been built with massage possibilities, drinking treatment, bathing treatment, guest houses, restaurants, market stalls etc. Even after many years, it all looks a little provisional. Nonetheless, bathing there will do you good and is extremely pleasant.
Today, we’ll have a longer trip ahead of us, we want to reach Posol’sk on the east bank of Lake Baikal. You can expect about five hours of sheer driving. On our way there, we will visit the interactive Baikal-museum in Tankhoj. A very rewarding goal, as the museum offers an excellent overview on the being and nature of Lake Baikal in English and Russian.
In the shadow of the monastery of Posol’skoe we will stay the night at Lake Baikal and if possible, cook over open fire. The shore of Lake Baikal around here is very welcoming for long secluded walks at the beach, and the lake will welcome you to bathe in it. As mentioned, we will stay the night at Lake Baikal.
We will spend this day at Lake Baikal. The valley of Posol’skoe with its typical coloured Siberian houses calls for a deeper look. You can take longer walk around the shore of Lake Baikal, swim or fish. Let your soul relax!
We’ll have another longer trip ahead of us. About four to five hours of sheer driving. To get over the river Selenga, we’ll take the ferry. Our goal is near the well-known regional tourist place in Turka.
We’ll be on well-constructed roads most of the time. To spend the night, we’ll stay at Baikal beach. Since this is a well-known and easy to get to bathing place, we aren’t going to be all by ourselves at the beach. But the local tourists are very friendly and restrained contemporaries.
Again, today, a long drive to Barguzin awaits us. Barguzin is the administrative centre of the valley with the same name. This little city offers some discoveries, for example old merchant houses, a Jewish cemetery, a great main square, etc. After the visit of Barguzin, which will take about one to two hours, we’ll continue our trip to the Buddhist monastery Yanshima. It captivates with its location in front of mighty mountains and a forest path, which leads us to a holy stone. The monastery Yanshima was built in recent years and as such is a newer complex.
To spend the night, we’ll place ourselves a little above the valley at a shamanic ritual place with a breath-taking view.
We’ll continue our route to the hot water springs of Arshan Alla. The ride will take around three hours. The small an little known spa lays incredibly picturesque on a rocky Plateau.
The surroundings of Alla welcome you to stay. We will spend the whole day here. You have the possibility to take a little walk to the waterfall nearby, a little hike of two hours, then afterwards, through a garden of cairns, to the waterfall. And don’t forget, take a bath in the hot water springs. No matter if it’s in the morning after waking up, in the middle of the afternoon, or in the night, before going to bed.
Todays goal is the mineral water lake in Alginskoe near the village Suvo. On the way there, we’ll visit the “stone bull”. He’s the patron of the valley and a very important sanctum of the local Buryats. Afterwards, we’ll reach the village Suvo. The surroundings of this village captivates with its spectacular rock formations, which we’re made through natural erosion. Like remains of mighty castles and gigantic watchtowers from a long forgotten time, some rocks rise in bizarre formations many meters above the ground.
We’ll stay the night directly at the lake Alginskoe. Its mud is rumoured to have a healing effect for your skin and joints. Near the lake there’s an ancient rock painting from the time of the Huns or even older. However, the paintings are strongly weather-beaten. Tourist are hardly to be found there in this Region.
Now this is goodbye to the wonderful valley of Barguzin. We’ll have a trip of around three hours ahead of us, to the village Maksimikha, where we’ll spend the night on another sand beach of Lake Baikal.
After about four hours in the travel vehicle, we will arrive in Ulan-Ude. There, if desired, we have the opportunity to visit the ethnographic open-air museum. With or without the visit of the museum, we will drive for another one to two through Ulan-Ude and stay the night on the hills of the South-Buryat steppe, with an overwhelming view, near Ivolginsk. It’s said to be a historic place, because Genghis-Khan must have been here.
Alternatively, we can spend the evening in a traditional, 100-years old Siberian house with shashlik, Banja (Russian sauna), folkloric singing and dancing.
No matter what you choose to do, it’s the last night staying in the travel Vehicle.
In Ivolginsk is the biggest and most important Buddhist centre of Russia. From nine o’clock in the morning you can sit by and watch the Buddhist ceremonies. In the last years, the complex has grown immensely, not least because it is home of a special kind of mystery. The corpse of the lama Etigelov, who died in 1917, does not show any traces of decay. Apparently the lama must have reached absolute meditation. You can also look it up in Geo 360° > http://www.geo.de/GEO/geo-tv/das- mysterium-der-sibirischen-mumie-2663.html or on Wikipedia > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashi-Dorzho_Itigilov . You will have a guide through the monastery where you can ask the lama Dashi-Dorsho-Etigolow for health and well-being.
After visiting the monastery, we’ll comfortably travel in the direction of Ulan-Ude and on the way, visit another viewpoint over the Selenga worth viewing.
In the afternoon, we’ll arrive in the hotel in Ulan-Ude. The rest of the day you’re free to do whatever you want. If desired, I can offer you an one and a half hour guide through the city. In the evening, we’ll go dine together and look back at the trip together.
Unfortunately, your flight back is awaiting you. If you wish, I can take you to the airport and help at the check-in.