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Siberia: Lake Baikal Big Ice Journey 2020


Whatever you thought about Russia, it's probably wrong. This photo tour will take you to one of the most exciting ice places on earth. We will spend plenty of time on the ice, crossing the lake in vehicles and stopping at various islands and other beautiful ice features on the way. Our drivers are local ice experts who know the lake in and out and who will make this a safe expedition for us.

Lake Baikal is the world's largest volume of freswhater, holding approx. 20% of the earth's supplies. With a depth of one mile, it is also the world's deepest, and it measures about 50 miles by 430 miles. The water is so clear, if you drop a coin, you can watch it sink for over one minute. Temperatures around the lake range from over 100°F/40°C in summer to -40°F/-40°C in winter.

During our tours in 2016 and 2017 we had pretty "warm" temperatures, reaching the low point at around 14°F/-10°C. While we were out shooting, the nicely heated cars waited for us. It was an overall excellent and exciting experience from both a photographic as well as a cultural perspective.



Day 1 Irkutsk

After your pick-up from airport or train station, you will have lunch and later on a guided excursion around the historical center of Irkutsk city. You will see several Orthodox churches with beautiful indoor paintings, the central city square decorated with fantastic sculptures made of transparent ice of Lake Baikal and the central food market, an original Siberian bazar. Also, you will be offered to visit local history museum where you may learn a many interesting things about aboriginal civilizations of Lake Baikal, Trans-Sib railway building and Siberia are settling history. Dinner will be served in one of the local traditional restaurants where you could try several tasty dishes of Russian cuisine.


Day 2 (Irkutsk- Lake Baikal-Olkhon’s Gate stright)

Today we´ll drive out of Irkutsk city along the northern highway through the snow-covered fields and mounts covered with Taiga woods towards to Lake Baikal. On our way we will take a several stopovers in the small country side villages so you could take some photos of the daily life of the native people.

Lunch will be served in the road café with dishes of the Traditional Siberian cuisine. This afternoon we will arrive to the hotel “Fregat” located at the picturesque long sticking out cape right opposite to the southern extremity of Olkhon Island. We will get accommodated at the hotel with a nice opened view to snow covered mounts of Primorskii Mountain Range and Olkhon’s Gate straight. After checking in the hotel we will get our photo gear and take a first ice driving excursion across the Olkhon’s Gate straight to the southern extremity of Olkhon Island – Horse Head Cape. This is rocky and deeply sticking out cape which has overhanging rocky walls with multiple ice grottos. Usually all the shore rocks are covered with icicles and ice splashes of the Baikal’s storms in November-December. One of the grottoes goes across the cape, so you could climb underneath from one side of the cape to another. This evening after taking several sunset photos we will head back to the hotel where we will enjoy festive dinned and following experience of the Russian steam sauna – Banya, located right at the shore of Baikal. Most brave ones might try an ice bath after extremely hot sauna!

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat” . Included meals: B-L-D.


Day 3 – A circle trip around the southern extremity of the Small Sea.

Today we will cover a huge circle trip around local area, visiting all main sights and destinations. First, we will head to the Cross Cape, a tip of the west coast on the edge of the Olkhon’s Gate straight. Her you will have a chance to walk on the ice around this gorgeous rocky cape and take images of the grottoes with multiple icicles and other amazing ice formations of the Baikal’s shore line.

After that we will drive to the best observation point of this area – mount Tankhan. From here you could observe over a hundred kilometers of the Baikal’s shore line and major part of Olkhon Island. At the clear weather you could enjoy breathtaking panorama and take a beautiful landscape images.

Another stop will be taken at the place named “Valley of the Stone Spirits” famous for the multiple, amazingly shaped rocky pillars. Some of them look like remains of the old castles, some like a mushrooms etc.

Lunch stop will take at the local road café where you could try several tasty dishes of the Buryat ethnic cuisine.

This afternoon we will drive around southern extremity of the Small Sea and visit several excellent observation spots with a great view for the multiple islands and overlapping capes. Also, we will visit valley of the Sarma River famous as the windiest place of whole Lake Baikal and could observe several huge ice falls in the narrow mountain valleys.

After getting on the ice surface of Baikal close to the long sticking out cape Uyuga we will explore massive ice grotto in it and spectacular island Borakchin famous for its ancient Shamanistic graving place and amazingly shaped granite boulders on its plateau. Shore rocks of this island are richly covered with different ice formations. Another natural wonder of this area – rocky cape Zagan-Hushun with two rocky arches in it. One of them looks like a huge grotto with a collapsed ceiling, but other reminds a very fragile sculpture.

Coming back to our hotel driving ice spaces across the Olkhon’s Gate straight. This evening you could enjoy view to the sunset over the glowing endless ice fields of Lake Baikal.

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat” . Included meals: B-L-D.


Day 4 – Island Ogoy – Huzjir, capital settlement of Olkhon Island

Right after the breakfast at the hotel we will continue our

ice driving adventures. First we will drive across the Olkhon’s Gate straight and get close to island. From here we will enter a Small Sea – part of Lake Baikal framed by mountains of Baikal’s western shore and Olkhon Island. This area is famous for its small multiple islands. We will take a special stopover at the picturesque island Ogoy, which has a Buddhist monument. We will walk to the top of the island to take close look tell on the monument and colorful pray flags decorating this area. Here your guide will tell you about Buddhism religion and suggest you to do a traditional circle walk around the monument.

Later on will discover fascinating ice caves and other islands of the Small Sea between the island Olkhon and the mainland. Upon arriving on Olkhon Island, you´ll see local port with many frozen ships and rocky Cape Burhan, which is still a sacred spot for all local Shamans. This cape has cave in it, with a help of the guide you could climb from one side of the cape to another. Finally we arrive to the main settlement of the island – Huzhir and get a lunch in a local café.

This afternoon we will head to the northern extremity of Olkhon Island –cape Hoboy. Along the route you´ll see huge icicles, hanging like sharp teethes from the sailings of the rocky grottos of Haranzy Island and several quite deep ice caves located at the bottom of the huge cliffs of Three Brother Cape. Finally, we will reach northern cape of Olkhon, locally called “Hoboy” (means fang tooth in translation from aboriginal language) which is a most spectacular place of the whole Olkhon Island area. At this spot island ends by a high rocky cliff surrounded by endless ice fields with a plenty of ice cracks focusing to the bottom of the Hoboy cliff. This evening we will head back to our hotel on the Olkhon Island inland, so you could enjoy opened wide panoramic views to the island areas and surrounding snow covered mountains.

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat” . Included meals: B-L-D.


Day 5 (Exploration of the western shore of Lake Baikal down south)

This day, as usual, we will start our jeep trip early in the morning and first we will head to the Tageran steppes, where is hidden one of the most amazing local highlights – gorgeous cape Aya, famous for its caves, ancient rock drawings and absolutely stunning natural wonder – huge rocky arch. This amazing place should be definitely taken for your image collection! Next stop will be taken at the ancient rock drawings showing riders, deer and shamans. From here we will cross the large bay of Anga River and get close to the Shibite Mount area. Here you will see ancient stone-build walls on the top of this Sacred Mount. Those walls remaining here from the late iron age and belong to the civilization of enigmatic Kurikan people, nomads who settled around Baikal in a past. Also you will definitely enjoy breathtaking panoramic view to the endless spaces of the frozen Lake Baikal and valley of meandering Anga River opening from this summit. Driving ice of Lake Baikal down south you will enjoy a view to the high rocky cliffs and powerful ice formations next to the shore crevasses – hue blocks of the transparent bluish ice pushed out on the lake surface. Today you will see several ice grottos and rocks covered with amazing ice structures and visit the famous other ancient rock drawings on high gorgeous rocky cliff of Sagan Zaba bay – one of the most sacred Shamanictic sights of this area. This afternoon we will arrive to the little village Buguldeika hidden at the picturesque valley of the western shore of the Lake Baikal we will have a stopover at marble quarry, where the locals cut out cubes of this snow-white stone. From here we will head back to our hotel along the highway. Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat” . Included meals: B-L-D.


Day 6 Southern part of Olkhon Island

Today, we will do the exploration of the southern part of Olkhon Island from both sides: ice surface and inland. First, we will get to one the heist mount on the southern part of Olkhon Island – Haday with a great panoramic view to the numerous mountain ridges around and endless of the sparkling ice fields of the frozen Lake Baikal. After that we will head to the Halzany bay with a stunning rocky cliff, standing like a finger in the middle of it. Here we could descend to the ice surface walking on the picturesque trail down to the half circle sandy bay. Here we could collect some images of the Baikal’s hummocked ice and mess of the ice pastiness, locally named “toros”

Next stopover will be taken at the rocky pillars of the neighbor bay and place famous as a “handing” stone – huge flat boulder sticking out of the rocky ridge, overhanging over the edge. Lunch will be served as a picnic by the opened campfire. Crossing Island lands towards to its western shore and getting to the ice of the Small Sea. Here we will explore several deep spectacular ice caves richly covered with icicles and ice splashes. This afternoon we will come to the ice-fishing spots to see how local people do the ice fishing in a winter time. Coming back to the hotel location by driving ice.

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat” . Included meals: B-L-D.


Day 7 Island Elenka

Today we will take an ice-driving excursion up north along the shore of Lake Baikal out of the territories of the Small Sea area towards to the foot of rocky Baikalskii Mountain ridge.

First stopover will be taken at the lonely rocky island Elenka, perfect place for landscape photography. Usually, several massive ice cracks focusing at this island and close to its shore you could observe spectacular mess of the ice blocks. From here we will head further north to see few gorgeous rocky cliffs framing a deep closed bay and big Siberian settlement Onguren, where you could get acquainted to the local life of the Baikalian natives. Lunch stop will be taken as a picnic on the ice with barbecue next to the tight group of scenic ice agglomerations and ice crevasses. You could take a few nice shots of the sparkling blue ice blocks and beautiful snow covered high rocky mountains right behind it.

This afternoon we will visit cape Rity famous as the most sacred and enigmatic place of Lake Baikal. From the ancient times local people were treating this place with a big respect, Shamans was doing multiple sacrificing there to the powerful spirits of this majestic place. Almost everyone who is visiting this place find it very special experience. From here we will head back to our hotel with a stopover for the sunset time.

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat” . Included meals: B-L-D.


Day 8. Driving down south along the shore line on the ice of Lake Baikal

Breakfast at the hotel. Right after the breakfast we will check out from this hotel and get our luggage ready for the drive. First we will head on the highway to the already familiar Buguldeika settlement, where we will descend of the ice surface and head southwards along the picturesque rocky shore line of Lake Baikal.

On our ice driving route we will explore amazing grottoes and arches of the Dirovatiy Cape, stunning vertical granite cliffs and sandy beaches famous for its “walking trees” with opened roots at Sandy Bay place. At this spot w will take long stopover for a walking excursion around this place and lunch stop, organized as a picnic on the ice with dishes cooked over the barbecue.

This afternoon we will explore one of the deepest ice grottoes of whole Lake Baikal, take images of the interesting lonely rocky island “Cormorant Stone” and will see countless number of the different ice patterns and structures.

This evening we are should to arrive to Bolshoe Goloustnoe settlement at the western cost of Lake Baikal. This place is famous as one of the oldest Russian settlements along the historical trading Silk &Tea route. This evening we will get accommodation in wooden loges of local hotel located right at the shore of Lake Baikal.

Overnight: Hotel “Red Sail” at Bolshoe Goloustnoe settlement. Included meals: B-L-D.


Day 9. Driving back to Irkutsk along the Goloustnaya River Valley.

This morning we will have breakfast at the local café and right after that spend some time on the ice of Lake Baikal taking last images of its frozen surface and shore rocks covered with amazing ice structures. Later on we will check out of the hotel and load our luggage n the jeeps and start to drive towards to Irkutsk city along the picturesque road in the Goloustaya River valley. On the way we will take a several stopovers in the most scenic places of the route, so you could collect a few images of the perfect birch wood, riverside and evergreen Taiga woods. By the midday we will reach Maloe Goloustnoe settlement. After walking excursion across this Siberian village we will get to the local Sled Husky Farm where we will have a lunch served with dishes of Traditional Russian cuisine. This afternoon you will have a chance to try a sled ride with husky dog team and grab memorable shots of the husky sled ride in action. Once, everyone in our team give a try to ride a sled and have enough of dog sledding images we will head towards to Irkutsk city. Upon arrival to Irkutsk city you will get accommodated in the comfortable hotel and later on you will enjoy festive dinner at the restaurant “Cranberry” celebrating conclusion of the tour!

Overnight: Hotel **** Marriott at the Irkutsk city center.


Day 10 Irkutsk

Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the IRK airport by car. Departure to Moscow by the morning flight.


Title: Siberia: Lake Baikal Big Ice Journey 2020
Start: Feb 16 2020
Duration: 9 nights / 10 days
Location: Siberia
Language(s): English, German
Host(s): Chris Marquardt, Tim Vollmer
Price: 4495 USD

Single Supplement: 950 USD

Shoe rating:
(click for details)

How physical is this workshop/tour?

Rating for Siberia: Lake Baikal Big Ice Journey 2020:

Lake Baikal shoe rating: We will drive to a lot of the places, there are only one or two short hikes involved. For a safe walk on the ice without slipping and falling, we recommend to bring chains for your shoes, such as Yaktrax Walk+.

easy (mostly in and around the classroom)
light (some walks, mostly easy terrain, no flip-flops please)
moderate (includes usually optional walks over mixed terrain, suitable shoes and clothing required if not mentioned otherwise)
heavy (includes trekking, hiking boots, altitude under about 10,000 ft)
very heavy (think trekking at altitude, Himalayan tours)

If you have questions about details, please don't hesitate to contact me any time via email at chris@chrismarquardt.com, on Twitter @chrismarquardt or on Facebook

Questions about this tour?
Email me chris@chrismarquardt.com
or Tweet @chrismarquardt
or find me on Facebook.

(receive sporadic emails with workshop updates)

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We work with atmosfair to offset carbon emissions from our photo tours.

Find out more:
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✔ English speaking guides/translators
✔ All meals from the itinerary
✔ All accomodation during the tour
✔ Transportation (Jeep-type cars on and around the lake)
✔ Transfers to and from Irkutsk airport
✔ All fees for national parks and museums
✔ Two professional photographers / instructors
✔ Winter outfit (warm jacket/pants, insulated boots)

Not Included

✗ International flights to/from Irkutsk
✗ Optional tours
✗ Sodas / alcohol
✗ Tips
✗ Travel insurance

Single supplement

Prices are per person in a double room. Single travelers must pay single supplement: US$490

Warm Clothes Included

Included in the price of the tour are the rental of (of course freshly cleaned) warm jackets, warm pants and warm shoes for every participant.

This is both a wonderful photographic and a cultural experience.

Getting there

You will organise your own travel to and from Irkutsk (and optionally Moscow, if you participate in the extention).

Getting to Irkutsk is straight-forward and usually includes a lay-over in Moscow. If you come on the Moscow extension, we will give you clear recommendation which flights on S7 airlines to book, so the entire group can travel to Irkutsk from Moscow and back together, making this a simple exercise.


  • landscape
  • ice
  • seascape
  • people
  • nature
  • culture


  • Moscow (optional)
  • Irkutsk
  • Buguldeika
  • Huzjir
  • Olkhon Island
  • Cape Hoboy
  • Goryatchinsk
  • Ust
  • Barguzin
  • Holy Nose Peninsula
  • Chivirkuiskii gulf
  • fishing villages Monakhovo and Kurbulik
  • Ulan-Ude
  • Bloshoe Goloustnoe
  • Lake Baikal

More reading

Wikipedia on


Lake Baikal is situated in Siberia, Russia, quite deep in the heart of Russia, east of the Ural mountains and north of Mongolia. It is part of the Asian continent.

Social Media

To discuss this tour with other travelers, please visit the Google Event


Our goal is to provide 4- and 5-star accommodation throughout the tour.

The hotels in Siberia are excellent. We expect a great mix of local and international hotels.

Registration and Payment

Payment for this tour will be split into two installments. To secure your spot on the tour you pay an immediate deposit payment of US$ 1000. This deposit is non-refundable. The remaining balance is due 5 months before the tour. Please read the Terms and Conditions for more details.











Author: Chris Marquardt

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Shoe pictograms 1 and 2 by Alex Podolsky under a CC BY 3.0 US license