Take a Hike, in Russia: Siberia’s Great Baikal Trail

Take a Hike, in Russia: Siberia’s Great Baikal Trail

For many years, Russian environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts had dreamed of a continuous trail encircling Siberia‘s Lake Baikal, the deepest and oldest lake on earth. With the energy of various local and international agencies and NGOs working together, in the 21st century the dream began to be realized.

A popular hike: Zmeevaya (Snake) Bay's thermal hot springs and its purported curative waters <br>Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

A popular hike: Zmeinaya (Snake) Bay’s thermal hot springs and its purportedly curative waters
Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

Also known as "Baikal seals," <i>nerpas</i> are freshwater seals that thrive around the lake's Ushkaniye Islands <br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Also known as “Baikal seals,” nerpas are freshwater seals that thrive around the lake’s Ushkaniye Islands
Photo credit: Michel Behar

In 2003, the first team of volunteers began work cutting the Great Baikal Trail and building bridges over the creeks and gullies. 2012 marked the 10th year of work on the trail and in 2015, volunteers and pros will work on at least seven sites up and down the lakeshore.

Blazing Baikal TrailsSince 2003, some 5,000 volunteers from more than 30 countries have built or improved some 110 miles of trails during hundreds of two-week work projects. Volunteers sleep in tents, cooking their meals over a campfire – and paying for the privilege. They must get to and from the pick-up site in Siberia on their own, bringing around $500 to offset food and equipment costs. Most of them leave sunburned and weary, but full of satisfaction that they have made a physical contribution to the planet.

Lake Baikal's backcountry is filled with forests, lakes, and meadows <br>Photo credit: Michel Behar

Lake Baikal’s backcountry is filled with forests, lakes, and meadows
Photo credit: Michel Behar

These MIR travelers hiked and kayaked at Lake Baikal in Siberia <br>Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

These MIR travelers hiked and kayaked at Lake Baikal in Siberia
Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

Hiking Baikal TrailsThe longest section of the trail, and the easiest to get to, runs from Listvyanka to Bolshoye Goloustnoye, a small town about 34 miles north along the lake. The hike usually takes three days, and is characterized by swift transitions between steep coastal bluffs, sandy beach and deep forest. There are guesthouses or homestays available at little villages in the evenings, and you can even get back to Irkutsk by boat or bus from trail’s end in Bolshoye Goloustnoye.

For more information, visit the official web site,

Some MIR travelers visit Khakusy's hot springs on the northeastern shore of Lake Baikal <br>Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

Rest and soak in Khakusy’s hot springs on the northeastern shore of Lake Baikal
Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin

Travel to Lake Baikal with MIRYou can visit Lake Baikal on many of MIR’s scheduled tours to Siberia, seeing for yourself the beauty of this area and the efforts to preserve its landscape. You can also book a custom private journey, selecting your own hiking, kayaking, or driving routes.

(Top photo: Siberia’s Great Baikal Trail is a hiking lesson in ecology, the environment. Photo credit: Vladimir Kvashnin)

PUBLISHED: February 5, 2015

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