An Uncommon Adventure on Frozen Lake Baikal

When you think of Siberia, you may think of punishment and exile, of barren tundra and vast expanses of nothingness – of a place of no return. The closely-guarded truth is that Siberia is a wild and wooded place of unimaginable beauty whose cities glow with warmth – especially in winter.

When snow bends the evergreen boughs in a Zhivago-esque backdrop, UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal freezes so hard that you can walk on water, race teams of sled dogs, and fish through the ice. Experience the rare opportunity to sweep across the frozen lake by hovercraft to sacred Olkhon Island, the place where the indigenous Buryat people believe the gods of Baikal once lived.

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Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Take a troika ride
    Go dashing through the taiga and onto the frozen Angara River on a traditional troika ride....
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  • Dine in an Olkhon home
    Dine in the home of an indigenous Buryat family on Olkhon, giving you a chance to experience the rural hospitality and lifestyle of island Buryats....
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  • Cross a frozen Lake Baikal by hovercraft
    Board a hovercraft for an extraordinary expedition to the Bronze Age petroglyphs of Sagan-Zaba, an unusual Baikal horse ranch, and finally, sacred Olkhon Island....
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  • Mush across Baikal on a dogsled
    Mush over frozen Lake Baikal on a dogsled pulled by Siberian Huskies, a courageous breed exported from Russia into Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush....
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over 30 years of Russia travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Princeton and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Russia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • Featured in the Financial Times
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • MIR affiliate offices in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk and Ulan Ude
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-2: Irkutsk

Discover the charmingly frosty city of Irkutsk, where extravagant ice sculptures rise from the main square. Climb to a church belltower to enjoy a concert of chimes rung by a Russian master bell ringer. Inspect the ice-breaker Angara, docked here after its career ferrying passengers and cargo across Lake Baikal came to an end. Go dashing through the taiga on a traditional troika ride, snowflakes catching in your eyelashes.


  • Irkutsk’s neighborhood of wooden buildings, decorated with the lacy wooden fretwork typical of Siberian architecture
  • Ice sculptures, slides and mazes
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Days 3-5: Listvyanka, Lake Baikal

Make friends with winter on the clear ice of UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal, running dogsleds, riding snowmobiles, fishing through the ice, and steaming in a traditional Russian banya. Warm your insides with cold shots of vodka served in ice glasses, accompanied by traditional Siberian zakuski, or snacks. Fathom the vastness of Baikal, frozen to a depth of eight feet, from the deck of a hovercraft sweeping over the ice on an extraordinary expedition to the Bronze Age petroglyphs of Sagan-Zaba, an unusual Baikal horse ranch, and finally, sacred Olkhon Island.


  • Baikal Limnological Museum explaining the origin of Lake Baikal, its characteristics and its endemic species
  • Winter games on the lake
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Days 6-8: Olkhon Island, Irkutsk

Secluded Olkhon Island has been a sacred place for millennia. Drive to the northern tip for a winter picnic in a sheltered bay, sampling Baikal fish soup, called ukha, made on the spot. Rise early for a sunrise shaman ceremony at mysterious Shaman Rock. On the way back to Irkutsk, pay a visit to a tiny Buddhist monastery to learn how Tibetan Buddhism spread so far north. Then raise a toast to the four corners of the wind, in true Buryat fashion.


  • Khuzhir’s Nature and History Museum
  • Khoboi Cape, northernmost cape on Olkhon Island
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices

There are no departures available at this time.

Please contact us for more information and a MIR Destination Specialist will contact you shortly. Thank you!

Please note

This itinerary is currently only available as a custom or independent program.  For a small group tour to this region, see our summer trip to Siberia: Siberian Odyssey: Legends of Lake Baikal & Tuva.

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in the best available hotels.
  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 7 dinners.
  • Restaurant tips for included meals.
  • Services of an experienced, English-speaking MIR Tour Manager with local guides at specific sites.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end cities.
  • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private van or jeep (vehicle type will depend on group size and terrain).
  • Transportation by hovercraft across Lake Baikal to and from Olkhon Island.
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Baggage handling where available.
  • Bottled water at group meals.
  • Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters and other service personnel.

Before Your Tour

  • Personalized pre-departure support from one of our knowledgeable Tour Specialists.
  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list, reading list, insurance information.
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Customized visa application and instruction kit (please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
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Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange an extended program in St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Baltics, or Central Europe before or after your tour. All of MIR’s destinations are open to you, and all can be attached to this program. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This Explorer Series program, by nature, is designed to be adventurous, but also as comfortable as is possible for rustic travel in this region. Accommodations will vary from three star hotels to simple and basic accommodation in lodges.

A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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