The spring at the lakeside is an amazing time to see the change of seasons. March still looks a lot like winter. In April, nature starts to slowly wake up from a long sleep. And in May, everything around you changes, exploding in hundreds of colors. Yellow lilies form pretty patterns of color. Rhododendrons cloud the hills with a pinkish haze not unlike Japanese sakura trees.
In addition to the natural beauty of the lake, there is always something interesting happening: festivals, performances, marathons. We picked the best springtime options for those who like to move a lot, to conquer the mountains and listen to good music.
International Baikal Ice Marathon
This is one of the most extreme marathons of the planet. Held in early March, it’s surrounded by full-on Siberian winter. The distance of 42 km 195 m is laid across the lake from Tanhoy to Listvyanka. People run on the layer of ice over the mile-deep vastness of Lake Baikal.
Participation is on a fee basis, available through pre-registration and requires certain level of health and fitness. You can find the details on the marathon’s website..
Mountaineering and Trekking
In April, Baikal rocks heat up and shrug away the snow. Mountain climbers and avid trekkers go out to conquer new peaks and travel new routes. Many travel to the Sayan Mountains, Munku-Sardyk, Khamar-Daban, Shumak, Chivyrkuyski bay and other mountains, lakes and peaks.
However, inexperienced tourists should avoid hiking at Lake Baikal during the spring. Melting snow, slippery dirt and crumbling cliffs make Baikal trails much more dangerous. Use the services of local travel agencies instead. Take part in a regular organized tour with experienced instructors who will make sure you’re safe while you enjoy the spring at Lake Baikal.
In summer, many forest roads in the vicinity of Lake Baikal look like two deep parallel trenches. Those trenches sometimes reach a depth of one meter. But in the spring, the roads are still hard and cold, and taking an ATV ride is one of the best options for traveling and getting to hard to reach places. Even a child can handle the controls of an ATV, and the driver’s license is not required.
ATV rentals are almost everywhere. Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Olkhon Island all have them. One hour of rent costs around 1500 rubles. Rental offices offer guided tours and opportunities to travel independently.
If you are new to the beauties of lake Baikal, treat yourself to a day trip on the famous Circum-Baikal Railway tourist train. While you enjoy the marvelous views from your window, the guides will tell you about the lake and show you Baikal-themed movies. When the train stops for short hiking detours, you’ll have an opportunity to stretch your feet, breathe in the air and take pictures.
A day trip costs about 3–4 thousand rubles. Please visit the website for a detailed route, pricing and schedules.
Amphibious boat trip
When the ice becomes too thin for safe driving but the waterway is not available yet, you can rent out an amphibious hovercraft boat. The boat will take you over snow, ice, swamps and shallow waters with equal speed.
If a hostel offers tour services, it probably rents out amphibious boats as well. One boat can transport up to 6–8 people at a time. Average speed is 70 km/h, and a day of rent costs from 30 to 50 thousand rubles.
Bard song theater at Baikal Lake
This theater is located in Listvyanka on Ostrovsky str., 45. This is the only concert hall designed for bard song genre in Siberia. It holds concert lessons for schools and performances of famous artists. Weekend evenings are usually reserved for bard song concerts.
|Even if you are coming to Lake Baikal during the cold snowy days in March, bring along sunscreen and sunglasses.|
|Dress for the weather. During the spring, neither a fur hat nor thermal underwear will stay in your backpack. You’ll probably need swimwear, too.|
|Do not attempt to drive on Baikal ice in the spring. The ice thaws unevenly, and the car can easily break it and sink.|
|Bushes and grass hide hundreds of ticks in spring. Tuck your shirts into your pants, and tuck your pants into your socks. Make time for an hourly head-to-toes check-up, and examine your body and hair each evening.|