New Year Party In The Heart Of Siberia
28.12.2007 - 02.01.2008 -20 °C
In December of 2007, we made an incredible voyage to the biggest lake in the world – Lake Baikal. I went there with my friends who were living and working in Moscow for the moment. Actually they found a local travel agency that organized everything. We were lucky to have guides who spoke English fluently and knew the region perfectly. They were telling lots of stories and legends about the lake all the time! The agency is called “BaikalNature” so it was a kind of “nature” travel.
Two English-speaking guides met us in the airport of Irkutsk and we were delivered to the homestay in the centre of the city. After a great lunch at Nina’s we had a city tour: some orthodox churches, the Decembrists museum etc.
On the following day we made a trip on famous “Circumbaikal” railroad, called “the golden buckle of Russia”. Russian food is tremendous! We visited the Baikal museum, Chersky Peak and the Baikal port. In the evening we got back to Irkutsk.
Next day we left for Olkhon Island. It took four hours to go through steppe and taiga and finally we came to the strait of Olkhon Gates. The lake hadn’t frozen yet “in the open sea” but the south of the Small Sea (wide strait between Olkhon and the land) was covered with ice. It was spectacular view! The ice was so transparent that we could see the bottom very well! Even fish! As the ice was not firm yet Baikal Nature rented two hydroskymmers for us. It was fantastic! On the other side there were two Russian “UAZ”, cars of military origin, waiting for us. It felt like at the edge of the world. In an hour of following a picturesque way we found ourselves in the middle of the island – in Khuzhir. The diner was already prepared for us. In the evening we did Russian banya, a kind of steem bath. It was unforgettable!
On the following day we reached khoboy cape – the northern part of Olkhon, worship place of shamans. The picnic in a fresh air with tasting vodka in the honor of local spirits to keep the tradition of the place. In the evening it was a great party! “Noviy god”, or New Year in Russian, is the greatest and the most expected holiday in Russia. The gifts and spectacles were prepared for us. “Ded Moroz” (Father Frost) and “Snegurochka” (Snow Maiden) were traditional characters of that party. By the way, we tasted the best of Russian cuisine.
On the 1st of January in the midday we went to the south of Olkhon to discover the Kurykans wall. In the evening we did banya as usual.
Next day we got back to Irkutsk. We took a plane back to Moscow but my friend Patrick and his family stayed there for a couple of days.
This travel was a great pleasure for me and I got unforgettable impressions. It was a splendid idea to celebrate the New Year’s Day in the heart of Siberia.
Lake Baikal is beautiful, a lot of rocks covered with ice, some marvelous landscapes like steppes and taiga.
Some shots from our trip are in my Public Gallery.
Good experience, travel well organized by a team of Russian English-speaking guys. Hope to be back for a summer cruise somewhere in the north Baikal.
The weather: although it was really cold (-20 °C) it was not that freezing as the air was dry. The weather was good: we were lucky or it’s always like that?