Skating adventures, skiing, curling, hot springs, amphibious rides and dog-pull sledges… There are too many reasons that urge everyone to go to Lake Baikal in winter. The winter trip here, I believe everyone will feel that this trip is worthwhile! Visit Russia, get your Russian visa at visaexpress.com.
Winter on Lake Baikal is the real winter: long, cold, snowy and sunny. Here you can find all the winter recreations you are used to: from skating or skiing, to fishing under the ice, hot springs and real Siberian saunas. Moreover, it makes people understand what is snow and what is cold! However, it is the price that is as low as the temperature. For visitors, the most important thing is to dress warmly and have a healthy body and curiosity. It can be said that you have not experienced this type of rest.
The ice of Lake Baikal
Every year in early October, the first cold comes to Irkutsk Oblast and the neighboring Republic of Buryatia. But the coldest period is December. In this season, ice has sealed Lake Baikal, and the density and thickness of the ice are increasing; only in mid-April, the ice begins to melt. From November to May every year, the shore of Lake Baikal is always covered with snow, and the thickness of the snow layer can reach 2 meters. If the thick snow does not shock the tourists, then the white ice of Lake Baikal is truly a special piece of heaven and earth.
The water of Lake Baikal is so clean and transparent that you can see the rocks 40 meters deep underwater. After being frozen, the water became the same clean and transparent ice.
Breathtaking photos of ice and snow
Nowhere will you see visitors constantly taking pictures on the frozen ice. Clean and transparent ice, full of blue and all hues from light blue to blue-brown. There are shocking patterns, cracks and bubbles in the ice. The favorite entertainment of tourists is to lie on the ice and look into the deep waters of Lake Baikal. Take pictures, take pictures and take pictures continuously. The huge icebergs and white cliffs of Lake Baikal add colorful colors to the pictures like graphs.
Natural ice rink
It is not only the magnificence of nature that attracts tourists to Lake Baikal. This huge freshwater lake is also the largest and picturesque ice rink in the world. Due to the clean ice of the lake and the strong wind, the ice surface of Lake Baikal is very flat and smooth. The most “daring” extreme sports enthusiasts come to do real skating adventures.
Ordinary tourists don’t need to create such a feat: any relatively good recuperation base on the shore will clean the ice around the lake very clean, so that it can rent ice skates and go skating on the natural ice rink.
In addition, you can also play curling or golf on the ice of Lake Baikal, and hold an ice sculpture art festival.
Road on ice
The lake ice of Baikal has important practical value not only for tourists, but also for local residents. The density and hardness of ice is so great that there are always people driving, snowmobiles or amphibious boats on the ice to find out the most beautiful lake shores.
In the summer, driving routes are limited: there are fewer roads along the lake, and the most charming areas can only be reached on foot or by helicopter. In winter, it can be reached by car or on foot.
Generally, the strongest ice can last from mid-February to early April. The most important piece of advice is not to obey the traffic rules: skate on ice and don’t wear seat belts in any way. Moreover, you must only use your right hand to drive the car, and your left hand must always be ready to open the door, so that you can open the door and jump out of the car when you find that the car is about to sink. This is not sensational. You know, dozens of such tragedies occur on Lake Baikal every year.
In January, when the Baikal bay froze one after another, the fishermen began to walk on the ice. Since February, the ice thickness has reached 1.5 meters, and fishing can be done almost everywhere. The most comfortable and biting place is the small sea between Irkutsk Oblast and Olikhon Island. From the ice hole, you can catch perch, burbot, grayling and the most famous Baikal autumn whitefish.
Diving under ice
Any kind of diving is to swim in another world. However, if your upper part is a beautifully cut 1.5-meter thick layer of ice, the feeling is very different from that on the ground. This kind of entertainment is only suitable for very experienced divers who are ready to take risks and deal with extraordinary conditions. To dive, you need a “dry” wetsuit. This equipment can be rented at a local diving center, such as in Listvyanka.
The wind of Lake Baikal
The most serious and risky aspects of Lake Baikal are winds. These winds are different, and only local residents can accurately tell whether the small wind just started is a gentle breeze or a snowstorm that is about to take shape.
On the shores of Lake Baikal, there is usually a calm wind. But the relative wind is quite terrifying! The most frightening thing is the Sharma style. When the local residents feel the wind is approaching, they will hide immediately. Strong winds can sweep people away at a fast speed along the smooth ice surface. Therefore, you’d better not stay too far from the shore. In this way, you can return immediately when the weather is bad.
Ski holiday on Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal is surrounded by high mountains almost from all sides. The summits of these high mountains are covered with snow even in summer. There is a ski center on the slopes of Sayang Mountain. The most famous ski resort is Sobolina Mountain on the southeastern shore of the lake. There are 8 sets of lift trucks serving 12 ski trails with a total length of 17 kilometers. The highest point is at 1004 meters, and the height difference is about 500 meters.
Of course, there are many more interesting ski complexes in Russia and neighboring countries. However, the scenery of Lake Baikal and Hamardaban Mountain is nowhere comparable.
The Mamai Mountain not far away is like a holy land for skiers. In November, it started to snow here. In severe winter, the snow depth can reach 6 meters. Therefore, skiing here is quite risky. You need to understand how to hold yourself in the deep and fluffy snow, and you should bring the necessary equipment for this kind of snow: if you fall into the snow, you will not even show your head. The natural snow of Mamai Mountain, the longest slope is about 3 kilometers.
Horse riding and dog-pull sledge rides
Lake Baikal is smooth and there is no need to climb the slopes. There is a horse farm and a dog farm for pulling sledges in Listvyanka. Riding a horse or dog-pull sledge, you can swim in the Siberian virgin forest.
Take a snowmobile or amphibious boat tour
Want to experience speed? Riding a snowmobile allows you to see the winter kaleidoscope on a smaller journey: from the snow-covered virgin forest to the breathtaking beauty of the endless sky over Baikal.
If you are interested in traveling on the frozen lake, you can choose the highly mobile “Sirus”. This is a small hovercraft. With this hovercraft, you can reach the most magnificent natural scenery on the shores and islands of Lake Baikal.
Hot springs of Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal in winter, around the magnificent Sayan, there are not only lonely and alluring snow and huge air currents, but also hot springs that bring happiness to people. These hot springs are concentrated on the shores of Buryatia. The best repaired and correspondingly expensive hot spring is located at Kotelnikovskiy Cape. All year round, you can only reach here through the lake: in summer by boat, in winter by car, “Sirus” hovercraft or snowmobile.
In Transbaikal National Park, you can visit the hot springs of Zminina Bay for free. There are wooden undressing rooms and bathtubs, and there are almost no people. The easiest way is to take the electric train from Severobaikalsk to Zhelinda and Goudzhet hot springs. There is even a free commuter car to the Hakus Thermal Springs Health Resort.
If you think that going to the hot spring along the ice of Lake Baikal is too extreme, then you can feel the warmth in a real Russian sauna. Sauna services are available in many health bases and private inns. Siberians will give you a real steaming experience! Then, drink cold beer, eat salmon or whitefish, taste Siberian grass tea, and enjoy a delicious dinner.
Siberian and Buryat dining
On Lake Baikal, be sure to try the local hot-smoked autumn whitefish, dried fennel fillets, Siberian rolled fish fillets made with frozen fish, and pickled fresh fish fillets. The meat dumplings similar to steamed buns are more delicious and relieve hunger. The Buryat national soup is made of lamb. On the shore of Irkutsk, when the dining is about to end, the host will provide you with herbal tea; while on the shore of Buryatia, you can taste milk tea.