Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal

So the last few days I spend on the biggest island of lake Baikal. Olkohn island! For me, seing the lake was one of the reasons to go to Russia. The pearl of Siberia they call it. On good summer days, you can see through the water up to 40 meters. With 1600+ meter depth, and being over 25 million years old, Baikal is not only the oldest, but also the biggest sweet water lake on earth. It holds one fifth of the earths sweet water. That's why I got so impressed.

So Olkohn Island is the biggest island of the lake. It's about 72 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide. About 1500 people live there, not counting the tourists. To be honest, I am happy to have arrived there so late, because there were not many tourists left.

It takes about 5 and a half hours to get on the island, so I left Irkutsk in the morning. Firstly I thought 500 rubles for the transport is a total rip-off, but I was glad to find out it was totally worth it.
A minibus filled up with 10 people, going 100 km/h whether there is asphalted road or not, is loads of fun. In the bus, I met a young Swiss couple with whom I basicially spend all the past days. Also, while waiting on the ferry, I again met my Spanish friends from the train to Irkutsk! We ended up sharing a Yurta (tent) together for the next 3 nights!

Basicially the city on the island is only so big for one reason. The tourists. It seems like everyone has build himself a little house or tent to be able to rent it to tourists in the high season. You can do anything, Fishing trips, Horse trips, rent quads or bycicles.. anything!

It cost me 900 rubles (21 euro) for one night, including unlimited tee, as well as 3 solid meals. I think that's a fair price!
So on the pictures you will see my yurt, which is only the place to sleep and hang out. There was a Banja outside, at which you had to put your name in a list with a time, so that they could heat it up for you. Ecoligist Toilet, is a pretty "nice" word for the toilet they could offer.. a wooden plank floor, with a hole inside, I call that something else! :D Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting anything else, I just don't like the word. "Ecologist Toilet"

The first evening we did nothing else then arriving, having dinner and a little walk on the local "habor". I made some amazing shots there, because of the old ships and the nice sunset.

I guess I can say, without doubt that the next days tour was the highlight of the four days. We bought a tour for 600 rubles, to go to the cape of the island. For me, the best part was the way there and back. 70 kilometers with an typical old Russian UAZ, throu the most rough terrain I could imagine. Rocky/steppy hills with up and downs of like 30 meters, very rough fir tree forrest with huge roots. It were two ours of being shaked through! I don't have to mention... The views were amazing. After a whole day of action, we spend the evening eating dinner and going to a real banja. (Sauna)

Yesterday I got a bit lucky because the weather changed to even better then before, and I was actualy able to take a sunbath. I rent a bycicle and tried to reach the other side of the island, but then got lost somewhere in the forrest. I found a sunny opening in the forrest and decided to lie down for an hour :) really nice!

Another highlight of those last few days was the way back to Irkutsk. A local Buryat guy was driving our Minibus and he had the craziest taste of music. We've been listening to crazy 90s pop-techno for five and a half hours non-stop. I had to record that. We had everything. Aqua, Captain Jack, Skatman, Schooter and Mo-Do!

Tomorrow I will go to Ulan Ude, the last "bigger" town before mongolia, where I will spend a night to then take a bus in the morning to Ulaan Bataar, the capitol of Mongolia.
My goal is it to find a few people, and organize a private tour into the countryside, because I don't want to do, and spend hundreds of euros on a organized one..

It's possible you won't hear from me for a while, I have no idea what I will be doing the next week, or two.
Sorry, but today I really got no power to give comments under the pictures, I might do it another day.

Best Regards,

1 videos
Entry by Daniel Walscheid from Germany
On 19.09.2011 at 21:23
Hi Luke,

the Picture 28 is AWESOME!
I didn't know that the landscape is so beautiful.

kind regards
Reply by Luke
On 20.09.2011 at 04:52
Thanks! It's also my favourite one! Yeah, once you get out of the Taiga, the landscape gets more and more pretty :)
Entry by Liza from Russia
On 19.09.2011 at 21:15
Baikal is awesome. I always knew about it, but didn't think that so much)I like your photos and want to say thank you for sharing them with us. Reading article and watching photos i was involved into your travel so much that at the moment felt myself traveling with you and enjoying that lovely places))Good luck, honey)
Reply by Luke
On 20.09.2011 at 04:53
)))) I will upload something new tonight, When I came back from the City! Talk to you tonight! :*
Entry by Mateusz from Poland
On 17.09.2011 at 16:39
HAHA ca?kiem spooko i ta muzyka w tle :D mogles wiecej zdjec jeziora dac :P