Lake Baikal photo tour: the poetry of the frozen lake, 14-20 January 2021, 21-27 January 2021, 28 January – 3 February 2021
1st group – 14-20 January 2021
2nd group – 21-27 January 2021 (4 spots left)
3rd group – 28 January – 3 February 2021
Baikal in winter is magnificent. Every year I find myself returning to the lake, so I can walk over its clear ice. I take my first few faltering steps like a child, listening to the cracking noise under my feet and the excited exclamations of the people around me, resonating within the ice – this is how good old Baikal welcomes you into its domain. It feels especially good to inhale Baikal’s fresh and frosty air at sunrise, while watching the first rays of sun meandering through towering cliffs, encased within frozen waves, making them gleam from within. Day time walks around Baikal are positively enchanting. One can spend an eternity under the infinite blue sky, while exploring the cosmic space of Baikal’s ice, with its mesmerizing cracks going into the dark and mysterious depths. Only in winter do you have this unique opportunity to travel around a number of islands on Baikal, see the most incredibly shaped cliffs from up close and take a peek into some of the ice grottoes and caves that are made inaccessible from the water in summertime. I invite you to join me on Baikal photo tour, get a little closer to and experience the local beauty in winter.
January 14 / January 21 / January 28, Day 1
Our journey to the lake will begin with your arrival to Irkutsk International Airport. We will pick you up from the airport – or your hotel, in case you arrive a day earlier. At 9 in the morning, we will set out to the Olkhon Island – the largest island on Lake Baikal. The journey will take us up to 6-7 hours. Upon arrival, we will check-in to our hotel, located in the village of Khuzhir near Burkhan Cape. The word “Burkhan” originates from the Buryat language and refers to the main deity associated with Baikal that Buddhist Buryats used to worship a few centuries ago. Burkhan Cape – also known as Shamanka Cliff – possesses an inner cave, which was known to be the location where the Baikal deities were worshipped. This is where we will see our first Baikal sunset.
Right after the sunrise shooting on Shamanka, we will head out to explore islands around the Narrow Sea strait. Every year, Baikal freezes in a different way, creating incredible patterns at the footsteps of picturesque cliffs and capes. Each year, new caves are accessible, whilst others are barred off by the ice. One of the first islands that we will visit during our journey is Ogoy – its western reaches resemble a tail of a gigantic reptile and its eastern borders ushers in views of beautiful ice grottoes. There is a Buddhist stupa of enlightenment on the island – a white stone construction in the middle of the pure waters of Baikal. On the same day, we will head off to the Izhilkhey or Elenka island – the latter resembles a huge ice breaker, drifting through Baikal.
During these couple of days of our Baikal photo tour, we will continue exploring the islands of the Narrow Sea strait, while capturing sunrises and sunsets in ice grottoes amid scenic capes and cliffs, as well as finding new vantage points during the day. On one of the days, we will set out on a slow walk around Oltrek Island, which opens up wide views of Baikal’s sandy beaches and sheer blue ice.
Today we will head off to Cape Khoboy in the northern part of Olkhon Island, where after storms in December, impressive ice hummocks have formed, creating gigantic ice slabs up to 2 meters high. “Khoboy” translates from the Buryat language as “tusk” – cliffs abruptly plunging into the water look like those of animal tusks. The cape bares another name – Diva, which stands for Virgo in Russian; if you take a look at it from the lake, the main cliff has a silhouette of a female body. According to one Buryat legend, the cliff represents a young woman who has been turned into stone because of her greedy and jealous nature – after she begged the deities for the same palace that her husband was gifted with – to which the deities responded that while there’s evil and jealousy present in this world, she would spend the rest of her days as a stone. We will also visit cape Sagan-Khushun, also known as “Three Brothers” – three stone peaks symbolize brothers. The lookout at the top isn’t the best place to grasp and appreciate its beauty, so we will take a look at it from the surface of the frozen lake.
Today we will meet the last sunrise and say our goodbyes to Baikal. There is a long journey ahead of us back to Irkutsk. Upon arrival, we will check in into our hotel and have dinner at one of the local restaurants.
January 20 / January 27 / February 3, Day 7
Transfer to the airport and return home.
During our Baikal photo tour we travel on the ice by the large 8-seat 6WD off-roader “TREKOL” equipped with the low pressure tyres. This makes it possible even to float in the water, therefore the tour is completely safe. We also have a professional local driver who checks ice situation everyday.
One day on the Lake Baikal
Price per person: 1800 USD
Deposit (required to reserve your spot): 400 USD
Single supplement: 400 USD
Full payment: 60 days before starting date
all transfers (car, driver, fuel)
three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner
accommodation in a twin room in a three star hotel in Khuzhir
accommodation in a three star hotel in Irkutsk one day before departure
transfer to the hotel and airport
GEAR & WEAR LIST
DSLR or mirrorless camera
tripod, it’s better to take it without center column
wide angle lens such as 14-24mm, 16-35mm
middle zoom lens such as 24-70mm
telephoto lens such as 70-200mm
remote shutter release
CPL, GND filters
spare batteries and memory cards
winter windproof jacket (the average temperature in January is about -25°C at sunrise/sunset time)
goose down jacket and thermal pants
additional warm gloves or hot packs
protective knee pads
crampons (to walk on the ice)
Vadim Gvon is a landscape photographer based in Irkutsk, Russia. He was born and raised in Siberia inspired by Lake Baikal, coniferous forests and high mountains. After graduation and having worked 5 years as a computer engineer he started to realize that the world stopped growing around him and he along with it. During the same time he discovered a passion for landscape photography wandering round Russia and Middle Asia what made him passionate about beautiful nature and remote destinations. Now he is looking for new adventures, continues travelling and capturing magnificent moments in our world.
I attended Vadim’s Lake Baikal photography workshop in February 2020 and it was no less then outstanding. A great experience. Vadim is the best guide I could find. Extremely professional and yet so modest and generous in sharing his knowledge with the group members. He knows every corner of the lake and the ideal time to shoot it. Everything was perfectly planned and arranged. If you think about a photography tour in Baikal don’t hesitate to contact him.
I spend a wonderful week with Vadim photographing Lake Baikal. Vadim organized everything in a very professional matter. He was very flexible with schedule and effortlesly seeked for the missing clear ice. Vadim showed me the best spots to photograph and always allowed enough time on the spot. I felt safe moving around and also enjoyed his good company.
Memorable journey starts from beautiful people joined you and being apart of something extraordinary that lead to a meaningful trip. Particularly, if you are travelling to somewhere new with extreme temperature. Thank you Vadim for showing me and Jenny the beauty of Baikal. Overall a great guy and very knowledgeable. A trip that will be remembered for lifetime.