Lake Baikal is one of the main wonders in Russia. It is especially beautiful in winter. Where else can you see a huge lake not covered with snow? When you step on the ice you feel like in outer space, there is a meter of clear ice and a kilometer of the purest water under your feet. We make this tour with maximum comfort and safety precaution as possible: most experienced drivers, rescue service at hand and best possible brand-new hotel of Baikal lake.
Photographers adore the Baikal. You can see ice texture, Olhon rocks and a great number of ice grottoes and caves on your way. It is comfortable to travel around the Baikal today –there are comfortable modern lodges with room facilities and cafes in Olhon. You may travel on a specially marked by EMERCOM ice track.
2,000 km of coastline means there will be plenty of spots on this epic photo tour from which you can peer out over the icy expanse. The parts of the ice that aren’t bewitchingly clear are covered with a delicate blanket of snow, so as we step out onto the lake we will wander across a winter landscape that offer textures and colour like nothing you will have witnessed before. It also happens to be the world’s deepest lake, and we will step forward in the knowledge that over 1.5km of water sits underneath the frozen surface.
It’s not hard to understand why photographers adore the mighty Baikal in winter. This is the textbook prototype of a picture-perfect landscape; a powerful reminder that sometimes all we can do is look on and admire as nature takes its course.
This tour will take place in January, around the time of year when the ice has had time to reach peak thickness and clarity, and the snow has begun to cover the lake beneath. Aside from Baikal we will see the island of Olkhon and its famous rocks, along with ice grottos and caves perfect for photography.
Travel around Lake Baikal is relatively despite its vastness and remoteness. There are a number of modern lodges with room facilities and cafes on the island of Olkhon.
On 31 January we are on our way to the Baikal lake. The journey takes 7-8 hours through endless Tazheranskaya steppe and by the evening we reach the ice waterway to Olhon Island. Olhon is a huge rocky island also known as the heart of the Baikal. These are the grottoes of Olhon where the marvelous caves appear. The accommodation is at the comfortable and neat hotel with room facilities in Olhon – we stay in brand new hotel built in 2016, it reflects the European standard of accommodation. The program and safety measures on ice will be discussed while traditional Russian dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Imagine a beautiful winter fairy tale. There will be Hoboi caves and icy grottoes in it. Breaking waters and splashes freeze on the rocks forming sokui – icy sputters of astonishing forms. Grottoes transform into ice castles on the north side of the cape. This is the place where we will go with you at dawn to watch the first light from one of the icy Hoboi caves.
You can see a woman’s silhouette in the form of the rock that is why the southern Hoboi part is called Maid. Hoboi was named so because of a rock coming into the lake. The rock looks like a tusk (“hoboi” means “tusk” in Buryat). Here and there Hoboi is pierced by through holes evidently from the storming wind. There is a legend connected with this rock. Once upon a time there lived a young couple. A husband was hard-working and did his utmost not only for his family but helped everyone around him. His wife on the contrary was an envious and bad woman. She never got enough. So the Gods (spirits of the Baikal) gave the man a palace as a reward for his diligence and his wife was so envious that decided to ask for a palace as well. The Baikal punished her and turned into stone.
Today we are shooting the Baikal from bird’s-eye view above Uzur cape. You will see the Northern part of the Baikal not far away from the cape Hoboi again. From high above there is a wonderful and splendid view to the Barguzinsky mountain range and to Olhon (the Baikal is 70-100 km in width here).
The rocks close to Uzur are worth painting. Red and yellow flames look like as if rising into the sky above the huge ice blocks. After morning shooting we go down to the ice to shoot Uzur rocks.
In the evening we have a shooting not far away from our hotel, on Burhan point.
Burhan point was historically named so probably because of the locals’ traditions to sacrifice to Buryat spirits in the rock’s cave. Moreover, there was shamans’ burial place there. The rock itself is located in the West of Shamanka, it’s 3 meters height and a long narrow passage goes through the rock in the East. Nowadays the cape is more often called Burhan. “Burhan” is the word that Buryat Buddhists call the Baikal tribal God. “Bur” is another name for Buddha. In old days there was a Buddhist chapel in this Shamans’ cave. There were a lot of statues of Buddhist gods, icons, incense sticks and different things for sacrifices inside of this cave.
We continue to explore wonders of Narrow Sea close to the picturesque Baikal islands, capes and ice caves. We live in one place all the tour long and use this place as a base for everyday photography sessions. We have lots of nice locations prepared for you!
Anton Agarkov is a travelling photographer and journalist wuth more than ten years of shooting experience. Anton shoots mostly landscape and travel stories and organises photography workshops and expeditions in Russia and Central Asia in which he spends more than 200 days a year. His outmost interest lies in the territories of natural parks and reserves as well as hard to reach territories. Anton have a vast experience in shooting in harsh weather conditions such as snow and sandstorms, extreme cold and heat. Anton is Tamron ambassador in Russia and pro-rider for Marmot Russia. Works on regular basis with Nikon, Lowepro, Carl Zeiss and multiple other brands. Organises lectures and workshops on traveling and photography.
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.