The word Olkhon means "windy, sunny" in the language of the local (Buryat) people. It is not only the largest island of Lake Baikal, but also the largest lake Island in the world. Picturesque landscapes, sandy bays, and steep capes with fantastic shapes make Olkhon a place you want to visit. But it was not always like that. During WWII and some time after, similar to the Island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, the Siberian Island also was a home for political and war prisoners. Today, the Island is home to 1500 residents living in several villages and settlements scattered around the Island with Khuzir village being the administrative center. Most people living on the Island are Buryats (Mongolian descends), who traditionally are fishermen or farmers. If you get a chance to speak to one of them, you will quickly sense the significance of the traditions and rituals passed from generation to generation, in which Olkhon plays the central role of a sacred place.
Your mind will want to fly when observing Olkhon lands.
The feel of harmony and peace on Olkhon is simply addictive.
Meet Buryat people representing the majority of Islanders.
Olkhon Island is a part of the Pribaikalsky National Park.
Visit Burkhan Cape to learn about Olkhon Shamans.
Stop by Peschanoye Bay to see the picturesque beach dunes.
Visit Khoboy Cape and see why Baikal is often called a sea.
The Kurykan Wall site has relics of VI - XI century A.D.
Hike to the cape of Three Brothers for views of a lifetime.
DAY 1: Drive to Khuzir village (the northern point of Olkhon Island) by regular passenger car (sedan). The road from Irkutsk to Olkhon Island is paved and in good condition. It usually takes 3-4 hours to drive 300 km/187 ml from Irkutsk city to Khuzir village. During the drive, you will be invited for lunch at one of the villages along the way. If you want to make more stops, this is not a problem. Due to heavy tourist traffic during the summer between the Mainland and the Island, be prepared to wait up to a few hours for your turn to board the ferry. Upon arrival to Kuzhir village, overnight at local B&B (home stay), supper, banya (steam bath).
DAY 2: After breakfast, our driver will invite you for a 5 hour sightseeing tour around Olkhon Island on the UAZ (4x4 Russian made Jeep or Van). Again, feel free to request that your driver takes you to places around Olkhon Island that you prefer, and make as many stops as you'd like. After the tour (weather permitting), hiking, fishing, swimming is optional. Overnight at local B&B (home stay), full board, banya (steam bath).
DAY 3: Breakfast. Free time in the morning. If interested, visit the local Khuzir elementary school and lore museum. Early afternoon, after lunch, drive back to Irkutsk city. Due to heavy tourist traffic during the summer between the Island and the Mainland, be prepared to wait up to a few hours for your turn to board the ferry. Upon arrival to Irkutsk, our driver will take back to the hotel for overnight.
Irkutsk->Olkhon Island tranfer by car (sedan), round trip;
Home stay in Khuzir village (Olkhon Island), 2 nighs;
Meals as described;
Olkhon driving tour by the 4x4 Jeep or van (5 hours);
Meals and bed for the driver, 3 days/2 nights;
National Park entrance fees;
Ferry fees (in the summer);
Accommodations & Meals in Irkutsk city;
First Aid Medical Kit;
Khuzir Museum admission fees;
Special tour-related note:
Due to heavy tourist traffic during the summer between the mainland and the Island, be prepared to wait up to a few hours for your turn to board the ferry.
Comfortable Resorts are now available around the Olkhon Island area with 2-3 star accommodations. Most of them are recently built, exotic wooden cottages with great views, and quality comparable to western standards.
Home Stays are accommodated by private wooden houses; often small, but cozy and charming with 2-3 single/double rooms. As a rule, hosts do not speak any other language but Russian. Bathrooms are outside in the yard (wooden box). Amenities include home made food & Russian Banya.
Depending on the season, bring: a sweater or light jacket, umbrella, sunglasses, cap, warm boots, mittens, hat and a thick coat. Plan for the worst, (especially in the winter) for incidents such as car breakdowns or ferry delays.
Bring snacks, sandwiches, and water for the drive.
Carry a bilingual dictionary with you at all times.
For Banya experience, bring a swim suit (if in the group).
Always carry toilet paper with you. Be prepared to use outdoor bathrooms (all seasons).