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Title image - BAI takes you to: Lake Baikal

Explore Lake Baikal, the Pearl of Siberia – Trip Itinerary


Day 1 – International flight to Moscow. Transfer to our first class lodgings, the Ararat Park Hyatt Hotel where we will have an orientation team meeting.

Day 2 – Enjoy a day sight-seeing Moscow’s highlights in true Berg Adventures style. Our Russian friends will show us the best of the Kremlin, Red Square, and other landmarks of this magnificent city. We board a boat for a sunset trip down the Moscow River and a great perspective of the city as seen from the water. The evening concludes with a walk through a forested park to a spectacular overlook of the city that is a popular gathering spot to enjoy the local scene.

The Kremlin and Red Square

Left: Spasskaya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin;

Right: Overlooking the Red Square from our hotel at the Park Hyatt in Moscow.

Day 3 – Fly five time zones east to Irkutsk, Lake Baikal’s major city and the cultural heart of Siberia. Overnight in Irkutsk.

A church spire pierces the sky in Irkutsk.

A church spire pierces the sky

in Irkutsk.

Day 4 – A relaxing day touring the city with our Siberian friends and learning about the history of the area. We’ll visit cathedrals, museums, and spend time in the bustling central market with its mix of old and new shops and street vendors. Stay again at a comfortable hotel in downtown Irkutsk.

Day 5 – Travel by hydrofoil up the Angara River from Irkutsk into the great expanse of Lake Baikal. Continue along the lake and disembark at the village of Bolshoy Cote. We will hike along the lake in the afternoon to a spectacular overlook. Overnight at a comfortable rustic lodge in the village.

Day 6 – Joined by several members of the Great Baikal Trail Association, we’ll backpack 7-8 miles on the Great Baikal Trail as it travels one of the most spectacular sections of the Baikal shoreline. Camp overnight close to the water, enjoying the stories, environmental expertise, and comradeship of the young Siberians who are the very people who built this portion of the trail.

Day 7 – Complete the final 7-8 miles of our hike along the Great Baikal Trail, reaching the town of Lystvianka in time for a lunch of smoked omul, a fish indigenous to Lake Baikal and a delicious staple of the Siberian diet. Enjoy an afternoon exploring the open air markets of Lystvianka and a visit to the Baikal Museum of Limnology for a deeper scientific understanding of the lake, its formation, and its unique ecology.

The enchanting colors of an autumn forest. September brings an explosion of color along the shores of Lake Baikal.

September brings an explosion of color to the forest and along the shores of Lake Baikal.

Day 8 – Morning visit to the Taltsy Museum of Architecture and Ethnography, including recreations of historic villages of indigenous Evink people, Buryats, and early Russians. In the afternoon, we depart from Lystvianka by boat for the journey up the lake to Olkhon Island.

Day 9 – Explore Olkhon Island. It’s the largest island in Lake Baikal, and is held sacred by the Buryat people. Believed to be the birthplace of Genghis Khan, Olkhon presents a spectacular, windswept landscape that is the center of shamanism in Siberia. Overnight at a lodge right on Olkhon island.

Day 10 – Travel by boat across Lake Baikal to the eastern shore. In the village of Ust-Barguzin, settle in for home stays with local families. Visit the headquarters of Zabaikal’ski National Park and spend time with rangers and others involved with the protection and management of Russia’s public lands.

Activities around Lake Baikal

Day 11 – Explore Zabaikal’ski National Park, surrounding Ust-Barguzin. Possibilities include traveling into the Barguzin Valley, hiking on the Holy Nose Peninsula, and visiting the small islands that are home to the nerpa seal, the world’s only freshwater seal, found only in Lake Baikal.

Day 12 – Drive to Ulan Ude, the main city of the Republic of Buryatia. A unique mix of cultures, Ulan Ude is a center of Buryat traditions, shaman belief, Buddhist monasteries, and Russian Orthodox cathedrals. A central plaza dominated by the world’s largest bust of Lenin is testament to recent Communist influence. Overnight at a hotel near the center of the city.

Russian hospitality shines on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Russian hospitality shines on the

Trans-Siberian Railway.

Day 13 – Explore the vibrant city of Ulan Ude, including the extensive open market. On the outskirts of town, see the traditional campsite of the legendary Buryat warrior Gesar, believed to be more than ten feet tall. A few miles further brings us to the fascinating Datsun Monastery, a complex of temples, prayer wheels, classrooms, and living quarters where Buddhism stayed alive during the years of the Soviet Union. Just before midnight, we’ll board the Trans-Siberian Express in Ulan Ude and make ourselves comfortable in four-bunk sleeper compartments for the overnight return to Irkutsk. Uniformed sleeping car attendants will serve hot tea and deliver freshly-laundered sheets for the bunks. It is faded glory—even these first-class accommodations feel as though they are from another age—giving us a satisfying taste of what it’s like to ride the Trans-Siberian Express.

Day 14 – Arrive in Irkutsk mid-morning. Enjoy the rest of the day touring and shopping in the city.

Day 15 – Return flight from Irkutsk to Moscow.

Day 16 – Return flights to North America.