Irkutsk and Lake Baikal

September 18, 2019 We arrive on time in Irkutsk this morning and transfer immediately to our beautiful hotel at Lake Baikal (actually at the mouth of one of the rivers flowing into Lake Baikal). We have been greatly anticipating this day as the Lake is one of the highlights of our trip, renowned as the cleanest and deepest lake in the world. Irkutsk, where we disembark the train is informally known as the “Paris of Siberia” for its rich architecture and colorful life. We enjoy views of the city before commencing the 1.5-hour bus trip to the Lake. We have breakfast upon arrival, and then embark on our day of touring.

Arriving at the Irkutsk train station.
Example of wooden architecture in Irkutsk.
Our beautiful hotel at Lake Baikal.
Our first excursion is up a chair lift for panoramic views over Lake Baikal.
View of the hills as we ascend the chair lift.
Stunning Lake Baikal in Siberia.
Watch that first step off the lift!
With some of the clearest air in the world, the largest solar observatory is positioned here at Lake Baikal to study solar activity.
Your humble narrator at a vantage point overlooking Lake Baikal.
Evgeni, our national guide, and Oksana, our local guide at Lake Baikal.
Next we visit the Lake Baikal museum to learn about how the lake formed and see specimens of the creatures that live in the lake.
Detail of aquatic life in Lake Baikal.
More specimens of life in Lake Baikal.
With continual ongoing research, more and more is being learned about life in Lake Baikal each year.
We see videos of elk and bears and seals and elk. Here is an example of an eagle and a wolverine.
Souvenirs are in high demand among the group. This shop sees a brisk business from Toto Tourists.
We are told that if you wash your hands and face in the waters of Lake Baikal you will look five years younger. If you do a total immersion, 10 years younger! We settle for hands and face (until later in the day).
Walking to the fish market, we pass a pier where addled people are taking the plunge.
Local fish market in Listvyanka Village.
Returning to the hotel for check-in, we have exclusive use of the Banya (dry steam bath) located in this old wooden sailing vessel.
In the Banya you soak birch leaves in hot water and beat your skin to increase blood circulation in preparation for a cold plunge in the lake. Richard takes a beating from Barry.
After a session of hot and cold torture, you can sit and drink tea at the bow of the ship.
After the hot / cold torture, you can sit and enjoy tea at the bow of the ship.
People at the hotel taking the plunge into Lake Baikal. At least two of our group members did the same! Brrrr.

We enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening, and chat into the night. What a wonderful group of guys!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *