Ask Baikal

Hi there! My name is Maxim Milyutin. I am based in Irkutsk, Russia's Siberia. Traveller, organiser of local travel talks, and owner of Irkutsk hostel. Travel for me is not necessary movement to some place far away from home, it's a state of soul. That's why I like to travel around my home region and and abroad as well. I'm happy to share my knowledge about Baikal with everybody! Feel free to ask me about Lake Baikal via the contact form Tatiana Baksheeva, our previous blog runner, remains with us as a contributor.

Russian economy and prices for travel to Siberia at 2015

Hi, guys!

You probably know, that there is something happening with Russian economy. Here is my forecast for prices for the next year. The pros of this process is that prices for everything (tours, food, accommodation, guides…) had dropped dramatically, USD/RUB and EUR/RUB exchange rate strongly decreased (ruble is now twice cheaper), and now everything here is twice cheaper than before. I think it’s good time for travelling. Some examples below. Hostel accommodation costs 600 rubles, in 2014 it was around 15 USD, now it’s 7 USD. Dinner at good restaurant costs 1500 rubles, it was 40-50 USD, now it’s 20-25 USD! The prices is going to rise during 2015, but not so dramatically, because Russian government manages the situation, and averate salaries won’t increase two times. Probably, during the 2015-2016 dollar and euro exchange rate to ruble will be normalized, but still it’s really cheap.

The con is that travelling abroad for Russians is very expensive currently (since we get salaries in rubles, not dollars). I think 2015 should be great year for travelling. Happy New Year and see you in Siberia!

5 interesting events that happened at Lake Baikal in 2011

I decided to make a list of interesting events that happened at Lake Baikal in 2011. The Lake is very unique by itself, but there are a lot of people’s stories connected to its existence.

A barrel floating on the sea

In summer 2011 one retired man from Kultuk village decided to swim across Baikal in…a barrel. He was inspired to do such a heroic feat by an old song “Sacred sea, sacred Baikal,” in which the main hero – a state convict – swims across the lake in an omul barrel. Modern barrel was made in accordance of author’s drawings. The vessel consists of two sections – large wooden spools, on outer side of them pieces of foam and empty plastic bottles are fixed. There is a cabin with a table inside the barrel.

However Nikolay Lupynin had more difficulties than his inspirer. The Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) prohibited this adventure, explaining that he must register the barrel as a vessel and pass through a technical inspection.

The barrel is ready. Photo taken from

Nilolay was not ready to such requirements and wrote a letter to Irkutsk Region Governor with a request for assistance and permit to swim. However, Nikolay didn’t get any answer. But the traveler is not discouraged, he is confident that the voyage will take place in summer 2012. By this time the retiree promises to fulfill all the demands of the MES and will sail according to the official rules.
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An unusual wedding at Lake Baikal

A young couple from Irkutsk decided to celebrate their wedding day … under water. The newlyweds wore a diving suits, special equipment and plunged into the lake near the village of Listvyanka to a depth of 10-12 meters, where they stayed for twenty minutes. Underwater newlyweds even opened a bottle of champagne. The groom was an initiator of such a non-traditional wedding. He is a professional diver. The bride was very supportive to his idea. He said that she was very happy because she had some diving experience at Lake Baikal. They made a video, and here are some shots from this video.

After the wedding the bride decided to enroll in diving more seriously.

Oh, forgot to tell you – it happened on December 20th, the temperature outside was -15C.

What do you think about this idea, dear Readers? Would you do the same?

A new open air Buryat museum between Irkutsk & Olkhon Island

A Buryat jurt at Lake Baikal, Russia

A Buryat jurt at Lake Baikal, Russia

A new ethnographic museum in the open air will be opened soon on the way to Olkhon Island, in 135 km from Irkutsk. The museum will be called Via Lactea.

There will be a Buryat jurt, traditional Buryat winter house, barn and yard represented. Travellers will be suggested to try Buryat cuisine, buy souvenirs made from horsehair, ride a horse and even milk a cow.

One of the world’s largest telescopes on Lake Baikal, Russia

One of the world’s largest telescopes on Lake Baikal

What a great news! Lake Baikal has been chosen to host one of the world’s largest telescopes. Russian scientists hope it will help unravel the mysteries of dark matter in the center of the Milky Way.

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Dear, Lake Baikal admirers!

The blog dedicated to the biggest Russian lake Baikal is officially launched since now! Forward your questions about the area via the contact form, and I will come back to you with so much wanted answers. Some of my replies (privacy is guaranteed) will be published on the web site.

Sincerely yours,
Tatiana Baksheeva.

Adventure: The 2010 Magadan to Baikal motorbike expedition finished

2010 Magadan to Baikal motorbike adventure expedition by Sibirsky Extreme

Sherri Jo Wilkins and her KTM at Lake Baikal, the final destination of the 2010 Sibirsky Extreme motorbike expedition. Photo by Walter Colebatch.

The Sibirsky Extreme adventure motorbike team, Walter Colebatch, a British explorer on BMW, and Sherri Jo Wilkins, an American Aussie lady on KTM, finished its long summer ride from Magadan to Lake Baikal. They overcame the terrains of the northern Siberian region of Yakutia including challenging old route of the famous Road of Bones (the Kolyma Highway). The total run appeared to be ~5000 kilometres.

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