Journey to the ancient wonder of Lake Baikal in Russia! Winter is the best time to discover the spirit of this pristine region surrounding the deepest and purest lake in the world. With metres of clear ice beneath you, natural ice caves and mysterious frozen grottoes to explore, you'll feel like you've stepped off our planet and straight into another universe.
The landscape around Lake Baikal is renowned for its beauty, particularly during winter when its icy shores are blanketed in a delicate layer of snow. January is the time of year when the ice on Lake Baikal will be at peak thickness and clarity, making for wonderful photographic opportunities. Capture the spellbinding beauty of the fourth-largest lake-bound island in the world, Olkhon, by far the largest island in eastern Siberia. Its legendary rocks are unmistakable and will be sure to leave you breathless.
This tour has been designed with your comfort and safety in mind: we'll have experienced local drivers, stay at the best hotel at the edge of Lake Baikal and always have the rescue service at hand as we traverse the surface in our specially marked EMERCOM ice truck. With over 2,000km of coastline to explore, you'll be guaranteed to return home with an incredible portfolio of images documenting the enchantment of this icy expanse.
Total price: 3900 USD
31 Jan - 6 Feb 2020
Guided by Anton Agarkov
Day 1 - 31 January
The expedition begins when you arrive in the morning to Irkutsk. We suggest that you arrive a day earlier, though no later than 10am on the 31st January. Our recommended airlines are S7 or Aeroflot via Moscow for those who will be flying from the EU/USA. If you will be departing from Asia, then flights may be booked via Vladivostok.
From Irkutsk, we'll commence the journey towards Lake Baikal. The drive takes about 7-8 hours, so you'll have some time to get to know your fellow travellers or just to relax and watch the scenery pass. We'll travel through the sprawling Tazheranskaya steppe, reaching the icy waterway to Olkhon island by evening. Situated in the heart of Lake Baikal, the rocky island of Olkhon consists of numerous mysterious ice grottoes that we'll explore over the course of the next few days.
We'll check in to our accommodation by the shores of Lake Baikal and meet for a traditional Russian dinner, during which we will discuss our itinerary and the safety measures that we will take while we are on the ice.
On day two, we'll begin exploring Lake Baikal from Olkhon island, otherwise known as the 'Island of the Small Sea'. Be prepared to be awestruck by vast capes and frozen grottoes lining the icy shores.
At Oltrec Island, long icicles of incredible shapes called 'sokui' are formed when the water from Lake Baikal splashes onto the rocks, freezing with the chill of the air. You'll have the opportunity to photograph their intricate shapes, between trips to numerous enchanting ice caves around the islands and by the capes.
Our sunset shoot will be at the largest island in the Maloe More straight of Lake Baikal, none other than Ogoy island. Situated at the highest point of the island is a Buddhist Stupa of Enlightenment, while the shores are scattered with a myriad of interesting shapes. The highlight of the evening will be photographing the stunning cracks in the transparent ice of Lake Baikal, made all the more glorious by reflections caused by the ethereal light.
On day three, we'll head towards the cape of Hoboi, where we'll explore grottoes shaped like frozen castles amidst a splattering of mysterious forms. There is one cave in particular that is very special, where the illusion of a female silhouette is created when the light of dawn enters the darkness and spills upon a tusk-shaped rock. Legend has it that this rock was once a woman who was so envious of her husband that the spirits of the Baikal punished her by turning her to stone.
On this day, we'll head to the Uzur cape for a truly spectacular bird's eye view of Lake Baikal. The vistas from this point are stunning, with a view over Olkhon island and the Baruzinsky mountain range in the distance. At the base of cape Uzur, you'll find large ice blocks strewn about the rocks, making for a number of compelling compositions.
Our sunset location will be at Burhan point, not far from our hotel. This spot is sacred for the local Shamans and is the home place of a cave dedicated to Buryat, one of the tribal spirits believed to reside in Lake Baikal. At sunset, the warm rays of the sun illuminate this area, creating a wonderful scene surrounded by pure, clear ice.
On day five, we'll continue to explore the fascinating capes and ice caves around the Narrow Sea, making the most of the ever-changing lighting and the beautiful winter conditions.
This will be your final day of shooting. We'll get up early for a sunrise session on the ice at Lake Baikal, before making our way back to the hotel for breakfast as a group. Thereafter, we'll pack our bags and begin the journey back to Irkutsk. The drive will take around 7 hours, with some rest breaks along the way.
Once we reach our final destination, we'll check in to our hotel and meet for one last dinner as a group in a traditional restaurant, where you'll have the chance to enjoy some tasty Russian cuisine.
After a hearty breakfast, it will be time for you to depart for your journey back home or onwards towards your next destination, no doubt with memory cards full of photos to remember an incredible expedition to Lake Baikal in the winter.
All transfers (including driver’s salary, gasoline fees etc)
Instruction and master classes by professional English-speaking guides
Airfare to and from Irkutsk airport
Visas (if applicable)
Single supplement (500 USD)
Cancellation and Refund Policy
We strongly recommend you to get a Trip Cancellation & Travel Insurance after booking your trip. If you cancel and the Workshop is otherwise filled, we will refund you the full amount you have paid towards the tuition, minus a $300 service charge. If you cancel and the Workshop does not fill, then you will be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the Workshop:
Greater than 90 days from the start date of the Workshop: full refund minus $300 service fee.
75 days or more: 75% refund
60 days or more: 50% refund
Less than 60 days: no refund
Refunds will be paid by the same method that the original payment was made.
We highly recommend that you get a travel and medical insurance. Your own domestic government medical insurance and private health scheme will not cover you whilst you are overseas.
The tour is always dependent on weather, as the Icelandic weather can indeed be highly unpredictable. Likewise, visits to ice caves are dependent on favorable conditions, and indeed the ice caves themselves are not permanent. When it comes to the Northern Lights, while they are most likely to be seen between September and April, there is no guarantee that they will appear on a given day.