Lake Baikal – the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake – is sleeping under ice during winter. It turns into a vast ice-rink so solid that cars could travel on its surface. Some parts of the frozen lake are smooth as a polished mirror; some parts have giant icicles that rise up like gothic castles; while some parts are jagged ice fields, as if waves stiffened in its tracks. Winter is a great time to explore Olkhon Island cliffs’ bottom unreachable in other seasons; explore hidden caves covered in icicles, like ice-sculptured palace fit for Snow Queen.
Morning depart from Kuala Lumpur International airport, transit via Bangkok to Russian Siberia town Irkutsk. Late night arrival, transfer to hostel. (note: tour members embarking from a third country shall meet the group in Irkutsk)
Irkutsk was founded some 350 years ago, first prospered from Gold Rush, then a place for the political exiles (the Decembrists). In 1970, Irkutsk was listed as a protected Russian city to preserve its ancient town planning and wooden architectures adorned with ornate hand-carved decorations. A walking tour to admire the city architecture wonders. Other attractions include colourful Orthodox churches, and the bustling Central Market. In addition, enjoy tram rides to explore the city.
Transfer to Olkhon Island located on Lake Baikal. The drive passes arid Siberian steppe and traditional villages. After lunch, arrive at lake shore of Baikal, which is sealed by thick ice in winter. Drive across the lake for some 10km on “ice road” to reach the island, upon landing on the other shore, another 45 minutes to the island’s biggest village Khuzhir. Late afternoon a walking tour around the village, sights of interest include Shaman Rock and frozen pier, stroll on the frozen lake and admire sunset.
Enjoy ice-road tour on the frozen Lake Baikal, along the southern shore of Olkhon island. En-route stop at viewing points to admire winter scene of the lake and surrounding mountain ranges. Uninhibited islands scattered on the lake, such as Crocodile Island. Land on Ogoi Island and hike to the hill top to visit a giant white stupa. Drive around the frozen lake in search of interesting ice patterns and bubbles trapped under layers of ice. Picnic lunch on the way. Late afternoon, back in Khuzhir village, free & easy.
Today explore the northern shore of Olkhon Island dotted with towering cliffs, such as the “Three Brothers” and Khoboi Cliffs. Visit the cliffs’ foothill and explore hidden caves full of icicles and interesting ice formations, like an ice-sculptured palace of Snow Queen. At the Island’s northern tip, enormous ice plate cracks emerged, translucent ice bricks piled on top of each other on the lake surface. Picnic on the lake. Late afternoon back in Khuzhir. At night, one could have a traditional Russian Sauna bath (optional).
After breakfast drive back to Irkutsk, upon arrival hostel check-in. Late afternoon, stroll around the city historic district or do some last minute souvenir shopping. At night, suggest visiting a traditional Russian restaurant for dinner, and enjoy folk cultural show while dining.
After breakfast, transfer to airport, take a morning flight to Bangkok for transit, and late afternoon connect to a Kuala Lumpur-bound flight. Arrival at night, end of tour.
A *security deposit of RM1,500 is payable to secure booking. Balance fee RM 2,700 to be collected upon booking deadline or when the tour is fully booked.
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He is a semiconductor engineer by profession, but travel is his passion and a way of life. He likes backpacking, get upclose and engage with the locals during travel, as he appreciates true cultural exchange experiences. The destinations he has covered including western Europe, South East Asian countries, and the ancient Silk Road countries. He has previously stayed in France and Central Asia, and learnt basic French and Russian. In recent years, he is attracted to the high altitude, and has been exploring various hiking routes in Nepal.
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