If you can afford only one stopover on the way, then it should be in Irkutsk. The city is situated on both banks of the Angara River and the biggest attraction is Lake Baikal. It is only 64km away – near enough for a day boat-trip. The old quarter of the city is worth a visit, too.
Lake Baikal, the “Pearl of Siberia”, is one of the most beautiful places not only in Russia but on earth. It is the world’s deepest lake (1637m) and the water is pure and drinkable. The lake contains one-fifth of the world’s fresh water – enough to supply the whole population on earth with drinkable water for 40 years. Baikal is also the world’s most ancient lake, with unique flora and fauna: two thirds of the 500 plant and 1200 animal species are found nowhere else, as for example, Baikal’s freshwater seal and the omul – the local kind of salmon. In a word, Lake Baikal is the perfect place for a holiday, be it boating, kayak, cycling or hiking in the three nature reserves.

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IKT-1: City tour (4 hrs)
Founded in 1651 by Russian settlers as a fortress, Irkutsk today is a city that reflects the mixing of cultures – traders from the east and exiles from the west. Feel the pulse of the city where Siberian harshness is reflected in people’s faces and their “soul”.

IKT-2: Lake Baikal & Listvyanka village (7 hrs)
The highway from Irkutsk to Lake Baikal goes through picturesque taiga-forest up and down high hills and in about 1 hour you come to the Museum of Wooden Architecture Taltsi (47th km of Baikal Highway from Irkutsk and 23rd km from Listvyanka).

IKT-3: Bolshye Koty Settlement (2 days)
The old gold digging settlement of Bolshiye Koty is the destination for this trip. It is situated about 100 km south-east of Irkutsk and the only way to get there is by a hydrofoil in summer time (about 25th of May – 25th of September), or if you like on foot.

IKT-4 & IKT-5: Trekking to Tcherski Peak (3 days / 4 days)
This is a hiking tour in the mountains south of Lake Baikal (Khamar-Daban), which everyone in a good shape can take on. However it is recommended that you have some experience in trekking carrying your luggage. The route and the difficulty grade are determined by the guide along the way according the weather and your physical condition. You might take part in the cooking. Bring ransack, sleeping bag, appropriate shoes and clothes for hiking and rain.

IKT-6: Trekking along Lake Baikal (4 days)
Trekking along the west shores of Lake Baikal in Pribaikal National park – from the village of Bolshoe Guloustnoe to Bolshie Koty (36 km). The tour is for people in good shape; however it is easier than the trekking to Tschersky Peak. The path follows the lake but at some places it goes inward with an ascent of up to 200 m.

IKT-7: Tour to Khuzhir settlement on Olkhon Island (4 days)
The biggest and probably most interesting island in the Lake Baikal is called Olkhon. The road to Olkhon is a bit tiresome, 6-8 hours in a bus, but the trip can also be full of new and strange experiences. See how the landscape changes with time and watch how villages appear out of nowhere, just to disappear just as fast in the horizon. The island itself is about 70 km long and 35 km wide.



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