The program can vary according to weather conditions.
Prepare yourself to get up at sunrise to capture the first sunlight reflecting from the ice on Lake Baikal, the same thing awaits you at sunset, but the spectacle continues with the twilight and then the night, when stars illuminate the entire sky. Because we will be so far away from population centers, we will have the opportunity to admire the stars. It is entertaining to use torches to illuminate the ice, particularly on calm nights. For our excursions we will use the historical Russian UAZ minibus. Every evening after dinner, if weather permits we can go out to photograph. Our nights will also be used to see and compare the photos that we have taken during the day.
Hotel accommodation is twin-share with separate beds.
As the climate on the lake in February is frigid (up to -23C) and there may be strong winds, it is advisable to dress in heavy wind and waterproof clothing with thermal layers. We recommend a hat that covers the ears, two pairs of gloves, a heavy jacket, a sweatshirt, a warm sweater, padded pants, thermal or wool socks, sunglasses, lip balm, and a balaclava or scarf. You may also bring a thermos and hand warmers (which can be purchased at sporting goods stores) with you. Don’t forget crampons for your boots.
- Reflex camera body
- Lenses (from wide angle to med-long telephoto)
- Replacement batteries
- Photo cards
- Remote control
- Lens cleaning kit
- Polarizer filters (GND, ND)
- Computer or disks to download photos
- Small headlamp or hand torch
Information on acquiring a Russian visa may be found here ttp://www.vhs-italy.com/index.php?id=index&lang=it#logo
The Tour Includes
- Airport transfers (at arrival and departure)
- Twin-share accommodation at Irkutsk and other locations
- All photography excursions as per the program for Lake Baikal
- Excursion to the traditional Russian village Taltsy
- Transfers Irkutsk-Huzhir-Irkutsk
- Local guides
- Photography opportunity with the Shaman
- Final dinner
The Tour Does Not Include
- Flights to or from Irkutsk
- All daily meals (in some hotels breakfast may be included in the price)
The cost of the tour is 1550 euro. This is to be paid as a deposit of 550 euros at the time of booking and the remaining balance upon confirmation of the trip. Participation must be confirmed and paid before November 30, 2017.
Minimum number of participants: 4, maximum: 8
- February 24
Tour members will arrive in Irkutsk in the morning. The local time is 7 hours later than Italy (UTC+7)
Transfers from the airport to a hotel located in the center of town will be organized. The group will meet at the hotel, and you will have the chance to get to know the other members of the tour group. There will be a walk through the Siberian city.
We will visit an ethnically Russian town, 47km from Irkutsk, where you can see how the different Siberian ethnic groups (including the Buriati, Evenchi (or Tungusi) and Tolofari) lived in the past. Today there are just a few hundred members of these ethnic groups, putting them at risk of extinction. You will be able to photograph individuals in traditional dress as well as typical Siberian wooden houses: lci.ru/main/foto.html Shamanism is still practiced in this area, and nearby you can find Ullan Ude, the world’s only university of shamanism.
We will return to the hotel in the evening, and tour members are free to make their own plans for dinner.
- February 25
After breakfast we will depart Irkutsk for Lake Baikal (280km away), travelling in a comfortable minibus. During the 5-hour bus trip, we will pass beautiful landscapes, and you will have the opportunity to take a stroll and photograph some of them.
We will arrive at our hotel on the Uyuga promontory in the afternoon. The first photography excursion will be at sunset. Tour members are free to make their own plans for dinner.
Our days will largely be organized as follows: go out at sunrise around 6:45am, breakfast will be around 10:30am, from 11:30am until 3pm there will be a few hours of rest, during which you may download the photos you have taken and see which photos you would like to retake, and which places you would like to return to. Then between 3pm and 10pm while there is the best light in the most beautiful places, we will photograph ice caves, patterns and splits in the ice towards the islands. We will go to many panoramic locations, choosing one to photograph the sunset, then after sunset there will be the opportunity to do a two-hour time lapse (star trails) in the place of your choosing.
- February 26 – March 1
We will stay at a hotel on the Uyuga promontory. This is a comfortable hotel with restaurant that has many good, local dishes. The hotel also has a Russian sauna (this may be reserved an hour in advance).
Each morning we will leave the hotel at 6:45am. We will photograph the first light of day. There are many islands within a 3-4km radius, so each day we will be able to visit a different location including: Altrek, Uzury, Hubyn, Kobyliya Golova (Horse Head), Uyuga, Hobby, Ogoy, Huzhyr, Shamanka, Three Brothers, and other islands and places with ice-caves.
At 10am we will return to the hotel for breakfast.
Each evening we will view the sunset from a different place. During the blue hours on the island of Ogoy we will see a place that is important to Buddhism.
During the program we plan to visit the Tazhyran Steppe (where there are incredible hills and spaces with landscapes that you can find in the finest minimalist paintings) where the white hills make shadows on other hills, a place that is untouched by tourists or people, and only animals leave their mark. It is a place where you can be united with nature and photography.
We will visit a yak farm, where we can see these wild animals in their natural habitat. t.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bos_grunniens Yaks are also known as the Tibetan Bull and are similar to a large bull but with longer, thicker fur, males weigh between 350 and 580kg and females weigh between 225 and 255kg. Their appearance is characterized by thick fur that varies between dark brown and black. You will also get to meet Sasha, the owner of the farm. Then we will eat a lunch of typical Buryatia and Russian cuisine at the finest restaurant in the Baikal area.
In the afternoon we will visit the Shaman’s village (around 100km from our hotel). We anticipate that the shaman will perform a ritual in a cave facing the lake. You will have the chance to photograph this ritual, which will be illuminated by firelight.
In the evening we will return to the hotel.
- March 1 – March 2
Leave at 6:45am. After we have finished photographing the sunrise, we will return to the hotel to pack, and we will move on to Huzhir, the largest village on the island of Olhon. Olhon is the largest island in Lake Baikal, and is mostly rocky with forest, steppe, taiga and even some desert. It is considered to be one of the most sacred locations in Central Asia. On the east of the island there are some crevices of up to 80m deep, but in other parts of the island the terrain slopes more gently down to the lake. On the west coast you can find the famous Shaman’s Rock. There are around 1500 people living on Olhon, mostly concentrated in the village of Huzhir. The entire territory of the island is part of a National and Natural Park. In the village you will be able to photograph typical wooden Siberian houses.
We will be staying in the most comfortable hotel in the area.
In the afternoon we will go to the Hoboy Promontory on the north of the island. On the way there we will stop in front of Horantsy Island where you will be able to photography ice caves with large stalactites and other formations. You will seem to enter the fairytale world of the Ice Queen. We will also stop in front of the “pressure wrinkles” which are formed from ice sheets that press over each other. One of the largest of these is known as the “Three Brothers.” We will stay in this area until sunset.
Following the photography excursion, we will return to the hotel. Tour members are free to make their own plans for dinner. After dinner we will go out to take a time lapse (with ships, or Shaman’s Rock).
On the morning of March 2nd or 3rd we will go to the Hoboy Promontory where there are larger “pressure wrinkles” and at sunrise the sun reflects off their walls.
- March 3
Departure and return to Irkutsk. Hotel accommodation. Dinner will be offered by Hidden World Travel.
- March 4
Departure from Irkutsk for Europe.