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Baikal Ecological Trails
October 19, 2018 17:13

All pedestrian ecological routes of Baikal are combined into a single system - “The Great Baikal Trail”. The project provides a large selection of hiking trails throughout the Baikal region. But three main routes are deservedly considered the most comfortable, interesting and picturesque. These are “Olkhinskie Skalniki”, “Big Cats - Bolshoe Goloustnoe Trail” and the trail "In the wilds of Khamar-Dabana".

Olkhinskie Skalniki

You can get to the trail “Olkhinsky Skalniki” by train from Irkutsk to Orlyonok station, the trip takes about an hour and a half. Passing by the houses of local residents, you should turn left to the river and cross the bridge. Here the trail with a length of 6 kilometers to  Olkhinsky cliffs begins.

The Olkhinskoe Plateau is a taiga massif with cliffs of bizarre forms well known in the Irkutsk Region. Each one has its own name: Knight, Idol, Old Woman, Lizard, Pharaoh...    Beautiful views of the taiga nature open from their heights: emerald forests, massive rocks and the Bolshaya Olkha River.

Knight cliff is a favorite place for climbers. Almost all over its surface there are special tracks. At the western foot of the rock there are stands with information and maps, as well as a camp site and specially equipped places for tents and picnics.

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Big Cats - Bolshoe Goloustnoe Trail

You can reach Big Cats following the route “Listvyanka – Big Cats” or   by a high-speed river boat, which run from June to mid-September.

Big Cats were founded in the first half of the XIX century by gold miners. In the vicinity of the village there are still traces of gold mining: for example, artificial lakes and dug up rocks. Also, a biological station of Irkutsk State University is located here, and the Museum of Baikal with more than 400 exhibits operates. 

Baikal Natural Reserves

From Big Cats to Bolshoe Goloustnoe there is a well-marked path along the shore: first along the shore of Lake Baikal, then through the forest and through several capes and falls. Gradually, the road leads to the coast again.

On the way, you should definitely visit the observation platform at Cape Scriper, which is located a couple of kilometers north from the Big Cats. The site is located a few meters from the path and has wonderful landscapes of Baikal and its coasts. 

Among other remarkable places of the route is the Chapel Cave, a natural monument of regional significance. Here, scientists found traces of ancient people’s habitat: arrowheads made of bone and iron, primitive knives, of ceramics, and animal skeletons. The chapel is interesting, first of all, as a valuable monument of the most ancient history of Siberia.

The final point of the 30-kilometer journey  is  Bolshoe Goloustnoe. This village on the western shore of Lake Baikal was founded in the 17th century. Its history is connected with the water trade route between Russia and China. There are tourist bases, cafes and shops in the village. Lake Sukhoye, a relic poplar grove and the Cave of the Hunting are all of great interest.

The trail "In the wilds of Khamar-Daban"

First, you need to get to the village of Tankhoi. There are two ways to do this: by taxi (Irkutsk - Ulan-Ude) or by train. The road from the railway station of the village leads higher in the direction of the “Moscow highway”, and then  to the sign "Baikal reserve".  The trail starts from the right side of the manor of the reserve.  

The manor invites tourists to visit   the  exhibition “Baikal in the palm of your hand”, the Museum of Nature, the ethnic town and a souvenir shop. The reserve organizes excursions for tourists, helps to find accommodation and transport. At the beginning,  the trail (its length is 12 km) passes   the protected area of the reserve along the “Kedrovaya Alley”, then it descends to the Osinovka river. The waterfall of this river is certainly one of the most memorable sights of the route. Khamar-Daban is the most beautiful mountain range stretching  from west to east for more than 350 km. The highest point of the range is Mount Khan-Ula (2371 m).

The northern part of Hamar-Daban is the most humid place in the Baikal region. There is about 1200 mm of precipitation per year. Warm, humid summers and high levels of snow in winter create favorable conditions for plant life. In the mountain valleys there are many relics and endemics. The Internet is full of photos of these beautiful mountain slopes.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Ecotourism Baikal    

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