The summer air of Lake Baikal makes people dizzy, especially those who come from large cities. Sleeping less than 12 hours a day is almost impossible during the first days of your stay here. This is how human organism handles the overabundance of oxygen and fresh air. In July, the lake is still warming up from the ice drift. But from July to mid-August, the weather is warm and stable. Air temperature may reach up to +30 °C, and shallow-water temperature might get up to +25 °C.

The summer at Lake Baikal is the time for swimming, mountain-climbing, scuba-diving, quad-biking, quiet fishing, dancing at festivals, kayaking and just having a good time. Anyone will have something fun to do. We assembled a list of the most popular activities.

Build new trails

Building new trails is a great way to spend two weeks in the most beautiful places and hidden corners of Lake Baikal. You’ll get to meet new friends from all over the world and discover new places. An experienced team leader will help you out with adjustment to camp life and field work. An interpreter will remove the language barrier and take care of your entertainment.

A trail built by volunteers (Big Ushkani Island)
A trail built by volunteers (Big Ushkani Island). Photo source – greatbaikaltrail.org

Duties will vary from building new bridges to partaking in litter removal. You’ll work 5-6 hours a day for 5 days a week. Most programs last 2 weeks and cost about 9000 rubles. This price includes administrative expenses, meals and cultural programs. Book a part in a project in advance, or else you’ll be at risk of finding all spots already booked. For details about the project, visit the website of the organization.

Get creative

The summer at Lake Baikal is a time of poetry and theater, yoga and dancing. Festivals happen all over the area, ranging from small concerts, conferences and workshops to international events.

Baikal-Live Art Festival
Baikal-Live Art Festival. Photo source — fanatbaikala.livejournal.com

For example, late July is the time when the annual theater festival is held at Olkhon island. Best amateur theaters from Russia and other countries come to the island to perform and learn from each other. August is when the time comes for shamanic dances, jazz improvisations, fiery rock-n-roll and poetry slam of the Baikal-Live festival. See what to expect this year at the biggest music festival in Irkutsk region at the website of the event.

Tan, sunbathe and chill

Due to the unique transparency of the lake, Baikal tan latches onto your skin in mere minutes, and holds up for a long time. Irkutsk scientists believe that just a half a day of sunbathing on a Baikal beach will result in a tan that will last up to Christmas holidays.

Baikal beaches
Baikal beaches

The western coast of Baikal is sunnier than Crimea, so don’t forget to stock up on sunscreen before pressing forward to Olkhon Island, Chivyrkuyski bay or Small Sea Strait. If you want to relax on the colorful beaches under scorching Baikal sun and to return home unrecognizably tanned, come to these places from mid-July to the late August. During the other months, the weather is not always stable.

Camping

Those who never sang praises to the wildlife of Baikal are those who have never been there. Landscapes vary from waterfalls to endless steppes, from taiga forests to alpine meadows. Both seasoned travelers and casual explorers will find places and trails to enjoy.

Shumak valleys
Shumak valleys. Photo source — fanatbaikala.livejournal.com

Test yourself by walking one of the most difficult trails to see the beauty of Baikal nature in all its glory. For example, a complex mountain path at the Eatern Sayans leads to Shumak, the only place on Earth with more than a hundred healing springs in just one valley. Or you can walk a casual route from Temnaya Pad’ to Angasolka with a camera at hand – even a child will have no difficulties with this trail.

Dive into the underwater world of Lake Baikal

Crystal clear waters, steep depth and golden sands make Baikal a unique place to dive. The bottom of Lake Baikal has no coral reefs or colorful fish, but it has its own treasured sights. Those who have seen Baikal from this side come here to dive again and again.

The underwater of Lake Baikal
The underwater of Lake Baikal

The colder the water the clearer it gets, and June is the best month for diving. People dive everywhere from the Circum-Baikal railway shores to Olkhon Island. Listvyanka has a diving center with professional instructors, equipment and rentable accessories.

Horseback riding

Just an hour of horseback riding is enough to make feel happy, and this activity is available to everyone. Newbies will be taught to sit in a saddle properly, and then sent off for a two-hour walk near the lake. Experienced riders will have an option of an equestrian tour with overnight camp stays.

Horseback tours on Lake Baikal
Horseback tours on Lake Baikal. Photo source — horsebaikaltour.com

One hour of horseback riding costs from 500 to 1000 rubles. The website of Baikal equestrian tourism center provides a list of horseback riding clubs that offer tours at Lake Baikal.

Try omul

One cannot simply visit Baikal without trying omul. Omul is a delicious fish that only lives in Baikal waters. The market of Listvyanka village is the best place to buy omul, as the fish is marinated or smoked and laid out on the stalls of the market immediately after the catch.

Omul at the central market of Listvyanka
Omul at the central market of Listvyanka

If you’re not averse to raw fish, try saguday. Saguday is a fillet of a freshly caught omul, lightly marinated in salt, pepper and onions. Proceed with hot-smoked or cold-smoked omul. Sit down at the shore with your lunch and enjoy the clear air, mouth-watering smell of smoked fish and a rhythmic rustle of the waves. Enjoy your summer at Lake Baikal.

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