Trip to Lake Baikal: Olkhon Island

Irkutsk, 31 hours by train east of Novosibirsk, is a good starting point for tours to lake Baikal. Numerous people had told me to go to Olkhon Island, the biggest island in the world’s deepest lake. Unfortunately I only had two days for the excursion, since I had to get to the border before my visa was running out. But I still went.

After three hours in a minibus, a short ferry ride and an additional hour speeding over a bumpy dirt road I arrived in Khuzir, the only real, although small, village on the island. I was staying at Nikita’s Homested, a cozy place close to the cliffs…

Nikita's Homested

…so I was able to be out there for a beautiful – although windy – sunset over the lake before it got really cold.

Sunset on Olkhon Island


The plan for the next day was to rent a bike and to explore the island; to cycle through forested hills to the coast on the other side. Several people had told me to be careful though – bears had been seen close to the village. But I had not come this far to then not make use of my time on the island before going back to Irkutsk in the afternoon!

So, armed with a sturdy stick I set out, making noise, singing and talking loudly; and thus I did not see a single bear. But a ranger showed me a track (it was huge!) so my singing must have been dreadful enough…

Bike Tour on Olkhon

Baikal Forest

The autumn forest was beautiful, as was the coast when I finally reached it. The climate seems to be very dry around here: Especially on the hills, but also in the forest it almost feels like being in a desert. Everything is brown, sandy and dusty. It was hard for me to reconsile that observation with the knowledge that I was on an island…

Shore of Lake Baikal


Russian Jeep on Dirt Road

A trip to Olkhon is really worth it and perfect to experience the big lake away from all the tourists, but a day or two longer would not have done any harm – it is a long journey to get there and away!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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