Lake Baikal, Russia - Winter Photography expedition

Lake Baikal, Russia - Winter Photography expedition

This Lake Baikal Photography Tour will grant intrepid photographers the honour of focusing their lenses on some of Siberia’s most famously beautiful frozen landscapes. Summer sees the bulk of tourist activity in the area, but it’s in winter that the most devoted photographers make the pilgrimage, hoping to capture once-in-a-lifetime images of the natural world at its most powerful and surreal.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Climb to the top of Khoboy Cape for a breathtaking panoramic view showing the true scale of Siberia’s “inland sea”. The cape contains a labyrinth of grottoes where sunlight dances off ceilings jagged with icy stalactites
  • Khorin-Igri Bay: an ideal spot to photograph the natural phenomenon of frozen bubbles under Lake Baikal, rising to the surface in perfect discs suspended in the clear, dark water
  • Budun Cape is a rugged natural monument surrounded by shard-like ice mounds. An unreal sight with a huge variety of shapes, lines and geometry allowing for some creative perspectives
  • In the bay of Zuun-Khagun, the ice is often so transparent that the bottom of Lake Baikal is clearly seen. This is one of the best places to capture one of the most iconic images of Baikal – the inky black lake surface split with vein-like cracks in the ice that can stretch for dozens of kilometres
  • Uzury is a tiny village of about 10 people in eastern Olkhon. Close to Uzury are numerous ice grottoes and natural ice hummocks – giant blocks formed by the movement of ice floes that shimmer like precious stones on the surface of the lake.

Under deep freeze conditions, Lake Baikal is an astonishing sight, with its transparent layer of ice blanketing staggeringly clear water plunging over 1000 metres into the abyss. Exploring the lake’s numerous islands will reveal hidden grottoes and frozen caves where intricate ice formations make for otherworldly photo subjects.

The main subject of this 8-day Baikal tour will be the breathtakingly beautiful Olkhon Island, the largest of Lake Baikal’s 27 islands. Olkhon is divided into three distinct climatic zones – steppe, forest and desert. Dotted all around Olkhon are strikingly photogenic landscapes and natural monuments, made all the more spectacular in winter by the presence of glittering ice caves and bizarre, beautiful ice hummocks – huge shards of ice that form out of cracks in the surface of the lake and shimmer with a transparent, turquoise hue.

To get to Olkhon from Irkutsk, we’ll travel approximately 300km by road and over ice. During winter, the narrow channel between the mainland and Olkhon is completely frozen, allowing us to safely commandeer our bus over the metre-thick ice to reach our home base in western Olkhon, Khuzhir. Khuzhir village is home to 1,200 out of Olkhon’s 1,500 mostly indigenous Buryat residents.

This dedicated photographer’s safari caters for camera buffs of all skill levels, with an expert photographer on hand to give you advice on shooting techniques. Amateur photographers will enjoy workshops on mastering equipment, building the right composition and using filters. Seasoned photographers will learn more about shooting panoramas, focus stacking and night photography. Travelling with a professional team including a guide, translator and drivers, you’ll visit the most visually breathtaking destinations in the region on this Lake Baikal photo tour. You won’t go home without a gallery’s worth of stunning pictures, guaranteed!

Key Information

  • Price £3140
  • Duration 6+ days
  • Group Size 5+
  • Date 02/02/2021 - 09/02/2021

Highlights

  • Climb to the top of Khoboy Cape for a breathtaking panoramic view showing the true scale of Siberia’s “inland sea”. The cape contains a labyrinth of grottoes where sunlight dances off ceilings jagged with icy stalactites
  • Khorin-Igri Bay: an ideal spot to photograph the natural phenomenon of frozen bubbles under Lake Baikal, rising to the surface in perfect discs suspended in the clear, dark water
  • Budun Cape is a rugged natural monument surrounded by shard-like ice mounds. An unreal sight with a huge variety of shapes, lines and geometry allowing for some creative perspectives
  • Climb to the top of Khoboy Cape for a breathtaking panoramic view showing the true scale of Siberia’s “inland sea”. The cape contains a labyrinth of grottoes where sunlight dances off ceilings jagged with icy stalactites
  • Khorin-Igri Bay: an ideal spot to photograph the natural phenomenon of frozen bubbles under Lake Baikal, rising to the surface in perfect discs suspended in the clear, dark water
  • Budun Cape is a rugged natural monument surrounded by shard-like ice mounds. An unreal sight with a huge variety of shapes, lines and geometry allowing for some creative perspectives

Itinerary

Day 1: From Irkutsk to Olkhon island

Welcome to the astonishing Baikal region of Siberia and the winter photography expedition of a lifetime! Your journey begins with your arrival at Irkutsk airport, where you’ll be met by our staff, ready to answer all your questions on the mission to come.

At 10am, we’ll waste no time venturing straight to the shores of the mighty Lake Baikal. From Irkutsk, we travel by road to Olkhon Island (approximately 300km, 5 to 6 hours) off the western coast of Lake Baikal. During winter, the narrow channel between the mainland and Olkhon is completely frozen over, allowing us to safely commandeer our 4wd transport over the metre-thick ice to reach our destination in western Olkhon.

Our home for the next nine days is Khuzhir, the main village on the island. You’ll stay in a basic but comfortable hotel with a welcoming local atmosphere.

Days 2-6: Landscape photography around Olkhon

Over the next 5 days, we will visit the most picturesque destinations in and around Olkhon including the ice grottos of Kharantsy Island, the ice mounds of Khoboy Cape, the Buddhist stupa on Ogoy Island, the bubbles at Belenky Island, the tiny settlement of Uzury and the steppe landscapes on the southern part of Olkhon. Because of the weather-dependent nature of the trip, there’s no fixed, day-by-day itinerary – we choose destinations based on the most opportune conditions on each day.

Day 7: Return to Irkutsk

Our expedition complete, after lunch we transfer back to Irkutsk to spend the evening relaxing, celebrating and sharing favourite photos and memories.

Day 8: Departure

Final morning in Irkutsk, with transport provided to the airport ready for the journey home.

 

INCLUDED:

Group arrival and departure airport transfers

Transportation on tour according to the itinerary (4WD cars)

Hotel accommodation on Olkhon Island (6 nights)

Hotel accommodation in Irkutsk (1 night)

Breakfast, lunches and dinners while on Olkhon Island

Professional photographer guide

Local English-speaking tour leader

Experienced driver

All sights indicated int he itinerary, depending on the weather

Russian visa support documents

EXCLUDED:

Flights

Travel insurance

Visa and visa fees.*Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for comprehensive visa service here.

Optional excursions

Individual transfers

Alcohol

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