Lake Baikal Photo Tour

“Big Ice Journey” the Lake Baikal Photo Tour

Whatever you thought about Russia, it’s probably wrong. This Lake Baikal photo Tour will take you to one of the most exciting ice places on earth. We will spend plenty of time on the ice, crossing the lake in vehicles and stopping at various islands and other beautiful ice features on the way. Our drivers are local ice experts who know the lake in and out and who will make this a safe expedition for us.

Lake Baikal is the world’s largest volume of freshwater, holding approx. 20% of the earth’s supplies. With a depth of one mile, it is also the world’s deepest, and it measures about 50 miles by 430 miles. The water is so clear, if you drop a coin, you can watch it sink for over one minute. Temperatures around the lake range from over 100°F/40°C in summer to -40°F/-40°C in winter.

During our Lake Baikal photo Tour in March 2016/2017 we had pretty “warm” temperatures, reaching the low point at around 14°F/-10°C. While we were out shooting, the nicely heated cars waited for us. It was an overall excellent and exciting experience from both a photographic as well as a cultural perspective.

Images from the past

Lake Baikal Photo Tours

Itinerary of Lake Baikal Photo Tour

Day 1 – Irkutsk

After your pick-up from the airport or train station, you will have lunch and later on a guided excursion around the historical center of Irkutsk city. You will see several Orthodox churches with beautiful indoor paintings, the central city square decorated with fantastic sculptures made of transparent ice of Lake Baikal and the central food market, an original Siberian Bazar. Also, you will be offered to visit a local history museum where you may learn many interesting things about aboriginal civilizations of Lake Baikal, Trans-Sib railway building and Siberia are settling history. Dinner will be served in one of the local traditional restaurants where you could try several tasty dishes of Russian cuisine.

Day 2 – Irkutsk – Lake Baikal-Olkhon’s Gate stright

Today we´ll drive out of Irkutsk city along the northern highway through the snow-covered fields and mounts covered with Taiga woods towards Lake Baikal. On our way, we will take several stopovers in the small countryside villages so you could take some photos of the daily life of the native people.

Lunch will be served in the road café with dishes of the Traditional Siberian cuisine.
This afternoon we will arrive at the hotel “Fregat” located at the picturesque long sticking out cape right opposite to the southern extremity of Olkhon Island. We will get accommodated at the hotel with a nice open view to snow-covered mounts of Primorskii Mountain Range and Olkhon’s Gate straight.

After checking in the hotel we will get our photo gear and take the first ice driving excursion across the Olkhon’s Gate straight to the southern extremity of Olkhon Island – Horse Head Cape. This is rocky and deeply sticking out cape which has overhanging rocky walls with multiple ice grottos. Usually all the shore rocks are covered with icicles and ice splashes of Baikal’s storms in November-December.  One of the grottoes goes across the cape, so you could climb underneath from one side of the cape to another. This evening after taking several sunset photos we will head back to the hotel where we will enjoy festive dinned and following the experience of the Russian steam sauna – Banya, located right at the shore of Baikal. Most brave ones might try an ice bath after the extremely hot sauna!
Overnight: Hotel “Fregat”  Included meals: B-L-D.

Day 3 – A circle trip around the southern extremity of the Small Sea.

On our third day during the Lake Baikal Photo tour we will cover a huge circle trip around the local area, visiting all main sights and destinations. First, we will head to the Cross Cape, a tip of the west coast on the edge of the Olkhon’s Gate straight. Her you will have a chance to walk on the ice around this gorgeous rocky cape and take images of the grottoes with multiple icicles and other amazing ice formations of the Baikal’s shoreline.

After that we will drive to the best observation point of this area – mount Tankhan. From here you could observe over a hundred kilometers of the Baikal’s shoreline and the major part of Olkhon Island.  At the clear weather you could enjoy the breathtaking panorama and take beautiful landscape images.

Another stop will be taken at the place named “Valley of the Stone Spirits” famous for the multiple, amazingly shaped rocky pillars. Some of them look like remains of the old castles, some like mushrooms, etc.

Lunch stop will take at the local road café where you could try several tasty dishes of the Buryat ethnic cuisine.

This afternoon we will drive around the southern extremity of the Small Sea and visit several excellent observation spots with a great view for the multiple islands and overlapping capes. Also, we will visit the valley of the Sarma River famous as the windiest place of whole Lake Baikal and could observe several huge pieces of ice falls in the narrow mountain valleys.

After getting on the ice surface of Baikal close to the long sticking out cape Uyuga we will explore massive ice grotto in it and spectacular island Borakchin famous for its ancient Shamanistic graving place and amazingly shaped granite boulders on its plateau. Shore rocks of this island are richly covered with different ice formations. Another natural wonder of this area – rocky cape Zagan-Hushun with two rocky arches in it. One of them looks like a huge grotto with a collapsed ceiling, but the other reminds a very fragile sculpture.

Coming back to our hotel driving ice spaces across the Olkhon’s Gate straight. This evening you could enjoy the view to the sunset over the glowing endless ice fields of Lake Baikal.

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat”  Included meals: B-L-D.

Day 4 – Island Ogoy – Huzjir, capital settlement of Olkhon Island

Right after breakfast at the hotel we will continue our ice-driving adventures. First we will drive across the Olkhon’s Gate straight and get close to the island. From here we will enter a Small Sea – part of Lake Baikal framed by mountains of Baikal’s western shore and Olkhon Island. This area is famous for its small multiple islands. We will take a special stopover at the picturesque island o Ogoy, which has a Buddhist monument. We will walk to the top of the island to take a close look at the monument and colorful pray flags decorating this area. Here your guide will tell you about the Buddhism religion and suggest you do a traditional circle walk around the monument.

Later on, we will discover fascinating ice caves and other islands of the Small Sea between the island Olkhon and the mainland. Upon arriving on Olkhon Island, you´ll see the local port with many frozen ships and rocky Cape Burhan, which is still a sacred spot for all local Shamans. This cape has caved in it, with the help of the guide you could climb from one side of the cape to another. Finally, we arrive at the main settlement of the island – Huzhir and get lunch in a local café.

This afternoon we will head to the northern extremity of Olkhon Island –cape Hoboy. Along the route you´ll see huge icicles, hanging like sharp teethes from the sailings of the rocky grottos of Haranzy Island and several quite deep ice caves located at the bottom of the huge cliffs of Three Brother Cape. Finally, we will reach the northern cape of Olkhon, locally called “Hoboy” (means fang tooth in translation from aboriginal language) which is a most spectacular place of the whole Olkhon Island area.  At this spot, the island ends with a high rocky cliff surrounded by endless ice fields with plenty of ice cracks focusing on the bottom of the Hoboy cliff. This evening we will head back to our hotel on the Olkhon Island inland, so you could enjoy opened wide panoramic views to the island areas and surrounding snow-covered mountains.

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat”  Included meals: B-L-D.

Day 5 – Exploration of the western shore of Lake Baikal down south

This day, as usual, we will start our jeep trip early in the morning and first, we will head to the Tageran steppes, where is hidden one of the most amazing local highlights – gorgeous cape Aya, famous for its caves, ancient rock drawings and stunning natural wonder – huge rocky arch.  This amazing place should be taken for your image collection!
The next stop will be taken at the ancient rock drawings showing riders, deer, and shamans. From here we will cross the large bay of Anga River and get close to the Shibite Mount area. Here you will see ancient stone-built walls on the top of this Sacred Mount. Those walls remaining here from the late iron age and belong to the civilization of enigmatic Kurikan people, nomads who settled around Baikal in the past. Also you will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view to the endless spaces of the frozen Lake Baikal and valley of meandering Anga River opening from this summit.
Driving ice of Lake Baikal down south you will enjoy a view to the high rocky cliffs and powerful ice formations next to the shore crevasses – hue blocks of the transparent bluish ice pushed out on the lake surface. Today you will see several ice grottos and rocks covered with amazing ice structures and visit the famous other ancient rock drawings on the high gorgeous rocky cliff of Sagan Zaba bay – one of the most sacred Shamanictic sights of this area.
This afternoon we will arrive at the little village Buguldeika hidden at the picturesque valley of the western shore of Lake Baikal we will have a stopover at marble quarry, where the locals cut out cubes of this snow-white stone. From here we will head back to our hotel along the highway. Dinner at the hotel.
Overnight: Hotel “Fregat”  Included meals: B-L-D.

Read more (Day 6 - 10)

Day 6 – Southern part of Olkhon Island

Today, we will do the exploration of the southern part of Olkhon Island from both sides: ice surface and inland. First, we will get to one the heist mount on the southern part of Olkhon Island – Haday with a great panoramic view to the numerous mountain ridges around and endless of the sparkling ice fields of the frozen Lake Baikal. After that we will head to the Halzany bay with a stunning rocky cliff, standing like a finger in the middle of it. Here we could descend to the ice surface walking on the picturesque trail down to the half-circle sandy bay. Here we could collect some images of the Baikal’s hummocked ice and mess of the ice pastiness, locally named “Toros”

Next stopover will be taken at the rocky pillars of the neighbor bay and place famous as a “handing” stone – huge flat boulder sticking out of the rocky ridge, overhanging over the edge. Lunch will be served as a picnic by the opened campfire.
Crossing Island lands towards its western shore and getting to the ice of the Small Sea. Here we will explore several deep spectacular ice caves richly covered with icicles and ice splashes. This afternoon we will come to the ice-fishing spots to see how local people do the ice fishing in the wintertime. Coming back to the hotel location by driving ice.
Overnight: Hotel “Fregat”  Included meals: B-L-D.

Day 7 – Island Elenka

Today we will take an ice-driving excursion up north along the shore of Lake Baikal out of the territories of the Small Sea area towards the foot of rocky Baikalskii Mountain ridge.

The first stopover will be taken at the lonely rocky island Elenka, a perfect place for landscape photography. Usually, several massive ice cracks focusing on this island and close to its shore you could observe spectacular mess of the ice blocks. From here we will head further north to see few gorgeous rocky cliffs framing a deep closed bay and big Siberian settlement Onguren, where you could get acquainted with the local life of the Baikalian natives.
Lunch stop will be taken as a picnic on the ice with a barbecue next to the tight group of scenic ice agglomerations and ice crevasses. You could take a few nice shots of the sparkling blue ice blocks and beautiful snow-covered high rocky mountains right behind it.

This afternoon we will visit cape Rity famous as the most sacred and enigmatic place of Lake Baikal. From ancient times local people were treating this place with big respect, Shamans was doing multiple sacrificing there to the powerful spirits of this majestic place. Almost everyone who is visiting this place finds it a very special experience. From here we will head back to our hotel with a stopover for the sunset time.

Overnight: Hotel “Fregat”  Included meals: B-L-D.

Day 8 – Driving down south along the shoreline on the ice of Lake Baikal 

Breakfast at the hotel. Right after breakfast we will check out from this hotel and get our luggage ready for the drive.  First we will head on the highway to the already familiar Buguldeika settlement, where we will descend of the ice surface and head southwards along the picturesque rocky shoreline of Lake Baikal.

On our ice driving route we will explore amazing grottoes and arches of the Dirovatiy Cape, stunning vertical granite cliffs and sandy beaches famous for its “walking trees” with opened roots at Sandy Bay place. At this spot w will take a long stopover for a walking excursion around this place and lunch stop, organized as a picnic on the ice with dishes cooked over the barbecue.

This afternoon we will explore one of the deepest ice grottoes of whole Lake Baikal, take images of the interesting lonely rocky island “Cormorant Stone” and will see a countless number of the different ice patterns and structures.

This evening we are should arrive at Bolshoe Goloustnoe settlement at the western coast of Lake Baikal. This place is famous as one of the oldest Russian settlements along the historical trading Silk &Tea route. This evening we will get accommodation in wooden loges of the local hotel located right at the shore of Lake Baikal.
Overnight: Hotel “Red Sail” at Bolshoe Goloustnoe settlement. Included meals: B-L-D.


Day 9 – Driving back to Irkutsk along the Goloustnaya  River Valley.

This morning we will have breakfast at the local café and right after that spend some time on the ice of Lake Baikal taking last images of its frozen surface and shore rocks covered with amazing ice structures. Later on we will check out of the hotel and load our luggage n the jeeps and start to drive towards Irkutsk city along the picturesque road in the Goloustaya River valley. On the way we will take several stopovers in the most scenic places of the route, so you could collect a few images of the perfect birch wood, riverside, and evergreen Taiga woods.
By midday we will reach Maloe Goloustnoe settlement. After walking excursion across this Siberian village we will get to the local Sled Husky Farm where we will have lunch served with dishes of traditional Russian cuisine. This afternoon you will have a chance to try a sled ride with a husky dog team and grab memorable shots of the husky sled ride in action.  Once, everyone in our team gives a try to ride a sled and have enough dog sledding images we will head towards Irkutsk city. Upon arrival at Irkutsk city you will get accommodated in the comfortable hotel and later on you will enjoy festive dinner at the restaurant “Cranberry” celebrating the conclusion of the tour!

Overnight: Hotel **** “Mariotte” at the Irkutsk city center.

Day 10 – Irkutsk

Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to IRK airport by car. Departure to Moscow by the morning flight.

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February 20 – March 1, 2021


10 Days / 9 nights

Photographic themes:

Landscape, seascape, people, nature, wildlife, ice

Olkhon Island
Lake Baikal


  • Service of 2 English speaking guides-interpreters
  • All meals described into the tour itinerary
  • Accommodation according to the itinerary
  • All transfers included in the route plan by jeep car.
  • Fees for visiting national park zones and museums.
  • Rent of winter outfit (clothing details, insulated shoes, etc)
  • Professional photographer guidance

Not included:

  • International flights to/from Irkutsk
  • Optional tours
  • Drinks/sodas
  • Tips and Travel Insurance

Getting there:

You will organize your own travel to and from Irkutsk.

Lake Baikal Portfolio:
A frozen lake in Siberia,m wildlife photography tours, Russia photography portfolio

Join me on the

Lake Baikal photo Tour

Photography Instructor for the Lake Baikal photo Tour

Tim Vollmer

Photo of Tim Vollmer, Tim vollmer Photography
CEO & Founder

Tim has devoted his life to photography. Photography has been his long-held hobby and great passion. Tim has always felt drawn to the power and beauty he finds in nature. Tim has been leading photo tours and workshops in Iceland and many different countries over the years. He has had the world as his workplace. He is Photographing everything from the dramatic landscape in Iceland, to the native people in the remote corners of the world and the culture that is unique to each country.

His journeys have taken him around the world in pursuit of memorable travel experiences and the creation of compelling images. His work has been featured in international publications. His images and stories are shared on various internet outlets. As a driven artist, professional, entrepreneur, and adventurer, Tim is eager to share his passion, knowledge in photography, and travel through the tours he designed on his own, or through his partnership with professional photographers from around the globe. Tim and his family lived 11 years in Iceland. Now they are based in the Czech Republic.

Call Tim Vollmer Now : (00420) 732 203 764