Ice driving experience
We are almost one hundred percent sure that almost any man in the whole world knows - somewhere in Siberia there is a lake of amazing beauty. It is called Baikal Lake! Perhaps Baikal is one of the most visited places in Russia, after Moscow and St. Petersburg. Travelers from all over the world come here to see with their own eyes the deepest, freshest, most beautiful, most mysterious lake on the earth. Not in vain this natural wonder is included in the UNESCO world heritage List. Baikal is framed like a diamond by mountain ranges and hills on all sides, – the Western coast is more rocky and precipitous than the Eastern one. In summer, the lake is surrounded by bright colors from dark green to bright red, and in the reflection of the lake we can see the entire phantasmagoria of the reflected sky and watch this splendor endlessly. But we invite you to see another Baikal. Baikal is different in winter.
It is said that in winter the beauty of Baikal Lake reaches perfection. From January to May the lake turns into an ice fairy tale with frozen grottoes framed by icicles and transparent sculptures. The coastal cliffs look like castles decorated with magical ice lace.
The Ice of Baikal is amazing, it covers the lake evenly, like a giant ice rink under the open sky and at the same time it is transparent, if not covered with snow. The ice is so transparent that you can see the bottom in great detail through the one-and-a-half meter thickness, while the water at a great depth boasts a rich bright blue color, and this spectacle can be admired endlessly.
When you walk on ice, you are in illusion that the thinnest fragile glass is under your feet. This unusual experience borders on the extreme; it attracts travelers from all over the world. But in fact, there is nothing to be afraid of, since the Baikal ice of 1 meter thick can withstand the weight of a helicopter. It is safe to drive car on the ice of Lake Baikal when its thickness is 30 or more centimeters. We are very carefully monitoring the situation of the ice cover of the lake, as safety in such a route is first and foremost.
At the end of winter, ice movement creates hummocks— bizarre icebergs up to 12 meters high — on the surface of lake Baikal. This time is perfect for those who like to take photos, as the quirky fairy-tale shapes look gorgeous and never repeat themselves.
Duration: 9 days / 9 nights
Driving distance: 1580 km
Types of driving: Highway, snow & ice off-road
Activities: Self driving tour
Vehicles: UAZ PATRIOT 4X4
Minimum driver age: 21
Group size: from 6 to 15 person
Accommodation: Best hotels on the route
Nutrition: 3 times a day (excluding lunches on first and last days)
Best time: February - March
Day 1. Moscow
We suggest that you arrive a day earlier to adapt and relax. We are ready to arrange individual excursions for you to choose from. We are always there to show you the most significant attractions of the capital.
You will be met at the airport by representative of our company with your nameplate. If the time allows you to take a tour of Moscow, we will be happy to arrange it for you.
After lunch, we will drive to the airport for a flight to Listvyanka. Accommodation in a hotel (Meals: - /L/)
Day 2. Irkutsk – Listvyanka.
A comfortable plane will take you from the capital to the heart of Siberia, the city of Irkutsk. The tour leader of the expedition will meet you at the airport early in the morning and will give you a short briefing on the route while you are on the bus to our destination and the starting point of our tour. The whole journey will take only an hour and a half. Therefore, after checking in at the hotel, you will have plenty of time to relax after a long night flight.
We will meet again for lunch. After lunch, we will go to our initial meeting with Baikal Lake. First, we will visit the Museum Of Local Lore. Then, if the weather allows, we will drive to the observation point "Chersky Stone". We will also test drive a car and as a result feel how cars behave on the ice. If you haven't had any experience of driving on ice yet, we will instruct you and teach you the basic basics. We will return to the hotel only by the evening. We willl discuss ice driving over dinner, and you will tell us what you were particularly concerned about in this new experience. This will allow us to build further driving on the ice more correctly.
Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 3. Listvyanka– Olkhon Island. Distance: 350 km
Our exciting journey is started from Listvyanka. Right after breakfast we will drive to Bogudeyevka, this off-road section will be only 120 km long, but it will take quite a long time to overcome the distance, and we will drive until lunch time.
After lunch, we will visit Sahurta village, marble career of cave paintings. We will organize a short photo shoot here since spectacular views are seen from this place. Further we will head to the island of Olkhon, where we will stay for the night.
Accommodation in a hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 4. Ice driving on lake Baikal. Distance: 120 km
Let’s start our ice driving day after breakfast. We will participate in Ice Safari. One can get a real pleasure being on clear ice, feeling hundreds of kilometers of water below.
We will start with Cape Burkhan and Rock Shamanka. These are spectacular places that thousands of travelers dream of. Our ancestors have visited these spots for worship and wedding vows for centuries. Shaman rock has two peaks. It is composed of crystalline limestones-marbles with a splash of pomegranate. Red lichens thickly cover the surface of the stone and color it in its own extraordinary way.
There is a through cave in the rock, that could only be visited by a shaman according to ancient beliefs. Rock carvings and Sanskrit inscriptions were found here, but they disappeared by nowadays. Cape Burhan is called one of the nine shrines of Asia to this day. And even now travelers feel the incredible energy of this place when coming here.
According to local legends, the rock itself is the habitat of the spirit and ruler of Olkhon Island named Khan Khute-B aabai.
Then we will go to Ogoy, a small island that is located between Olkhon and the mainland, its length is slightly less than 3 km (2.9 km) and its width is slightly more than half a kilometer (0.6 km), but its shape is similar to a dancing Dakina - a demonic female creature from the retinue of the goddess Kali. If you look at the island from above, you can clearly see the head and body, and in the area of the heart of the goddess, at the same time on the highest point of the island, there is a Buddhist Stupa or Stupa of Enlightenment. Many tourists want to see this place, especially those who are connected with Buddhism.
We will return to our hotel in the evening. This day we will definitely have something to share with each other. Accommodation in hotel (Meals: B/L/D)
Day 5. From Olhon Island to Ulan-Ude. Distance: 418 km
This day is the most difficult day of our tour, we will cross Lake Baikal from one Bank to the other (from West to East). We have to overcome 150 km on the ice. Therefore, we will have an early Breakfast and immediately start our adventure.
You’ll get the greatest impression from the trip on the ice. Just imagine that we have to pass a place where the depth of Baikal lake reaches a maximum of 1642 meters. But we have nothing to worry about, in this place the thickness of the ice varies from 50 cm to 2 meters. And this thickness can withstand up to 15 tons. When the ice is not covered with snow, we can see its fantastic transparency with shades from white to dark blue. And we'll see how the ice is broken into large cracks with a loud sound resembling the roar of thunder. And hear the song of the lake.
Lunch-picnic on the ice of the lake. After we reach the shore, we will continue the 260 km long journey over solid ground to Ulan-Ude.
In the evening, over dinner, we can relax and look at the photos that were taken that day. Accommodation in a hotel (Meals: B/L/D)
Day 6. From Ulan-Ude to Baikalsk. Distance: 310 km
Today we can sleep longer, and after Breakfast we will head to Baikalsk along the Eastern shore of Baikal Lake. We will stop at the museum of Baikal on the way. This place is very informative and offers a beautiful view of the vicinity. Just imagine yourself looking at the icy surface of the lake not believing that you were able to drive car from the other side. After a while we will arrive at the ski base in Baikalsk.
After lunch we will experience the best activity – Haski dog sledding. There is also possibility to do snowmobile in case someone would like to. Accommodation In ski-resort (B/L/D)
Day 7. Baikalsk – Irkutsk. Distance: 150 km
In the morning we will set off to Irkutsk and close the circle of our fascinating journey. On the way, we will stop at the Kultuk pass to take a last look at the beautiful lake and say goodbye, thank you and, maybe, even see you soon. Sometimes the pass is closed due to a large amount of snow and icy roads.
But not for long, the movement here is restored very quickly, but you need to be careful and move up slowly. We will arrive in Irkutsk by lunchtime. Check in at the hotel. After lunch, we will go on a walking tour of the city center of Irkutsk.
In the evening, we will have a festive dinner. Accommodation in a hotel (Meals: B/L/D)
Day 8. Departure to Moscow
We will drive to the airport to get early morning flight from Irkutsk to Moscow. It would be the end of our program.
In case someone would like to have SS tour in Moscow or accommodation in Moscow – please feel free to ask.