Olkhon, located near the northwest shore, is the largest of the 22 islands in Lake Baikal (71 km long, 15 km wide). It is located at the deepest point (1,620 m). Certainly hyper touristic, the island is an inexhaustible source of joy: still virgin nature, a palette of luminous colours (especially in autumn), an intoxicating variety of landscapes. You sail between the steppe, the oceanic sandy bays, the deep taiga, so Siberian, the steep reliefs, the creeks with clear Mediterranean waters... The island of Olkhon began to open in the early 2000s, when it was connected to electricity. Since then, an overwhelming majority of the population, year-round or seasonal residents, derive their income from tourism.
Shamanic beliefs are particularly vivid. A highly symbolic and spiritual land, it shelters at its highest point, Juma (1,274 m), the spirit of Baikal. A sacred mountain, as well as its forests and coastline, covered with offerings, are the refuge of many spirits. Olkhon Island hosts the annual International Shamanic Conference at the beginning of August each year. You have the opportunity to observe a taigla, a collective prayer led by several shamans.
Two peaks of activity. Summer: June to August (swimming, water activities). Winter: end of January to end of March. The ice is taken (visits to frozen waterfalls, outdoor activities on the ice. From November to February, activity is at its lowest point, with many establishments closed. You can swim until September. In October, you enjoy the calm and the autumn flare.
From Irkutsk by boat/hovercraft to the port of Khuzhir, or by road (by bus or car, about 8 hours). The bus formula is the most practical (and the most profitable): the bus drops you off in Khujir. The ticket includes ferry passage and road trip to Khujir (about 35 km). The price: 1,000 RUB per person. Possibility to return by helicopter. Finally, you can reach the island of Olkhon from the southern shore of Lake Baikal.
Before you go
No ATM on the island: come with lots of cash. Not all professionals accept credit cards; some tax this method of payment by 5%. No public transport, only a taxi service. You can rent bikes all year round. You come by car: make sure your vehicle is off-road (no paved roads, some tracks are very rough). The wilderness camping is subject to the regulations of the Pribaïkalsky National Park: ask for information in advance.