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Main Ecological trails of Lake Baikal

All of the ecological hiking trails at Lake Baikal are combined into an integrated system – "The Great Baikal trail". 13 years after its inception, the project provides a large variety of hiking trails throughout the region. But there are three routes that considered to be the most comfortable, interesting and picturesque.

Olhinskoe plateau

There is a train that goes from Irkutsk to the trails leading to the Olhinskoe plateau. The train goes to “Orlenok” station and takes about an hour and a half.

On arrival you need to come down from the station stairs, and then turn right. After a while, passing the houses of the locals, turn left to the river and cross the bridge. The trail to Olhinskoe plateau begins from here and it reaches a length of about 6 kilometers.

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Olhinskoe plateau is a taiga mass where rocks of fancy shapes, which are well known in the Irkutsk region, are located. Each of the rocks has a name: Vityaz, Idol, Crone, Pangolin, Pharaoh, etc. There are beautiful views of the taiga which can be seen from their heights: emerald forests, massive cliffs and the lazy river, the Big Olkha.
 

Vityaz is the largest plateau (40 m). If you look at this natural monument from the river, coming from the South, you can clearly see the formidable silhouette of a warrior with helmet on his head. Vityaz is a favorite destination of rock climbers. Almost all its surface has special climbers’ tracks. There are stands with information and maps at the Western foot of the cliff, as well as a camp site and specially equipped places for tents and picnics.

The Trail "Bolshie koty - Big Goloustnoe"

To reach the Bolshie Koty you can walk along the "Listvyanka - Bolshie Koty" trail or take a river boat. Hydrofoil routes from Irkutsk and back run from June to mid-September.

The Bolshie Koty were founded in the first half of the nineteenth century by gold miners. The village suburbs still have traces of gold production, including artificial lakes, and dug-up rocks. The Biological station of the Irkutsk State University is located in Bolshie Koty. Also there is the Baikal Museum with more than 400 exhibits.

A well-visible trail goes along the coast from the Bolshie Koty to the Big Goloustnoe: first along the coast of Lake Baikal, and then through the woods and a few capes and folds. Gradually, the road again brings you to the coast.

You should definitely visit the observation platform at cape Scriper, which is located in a few kilometers north from the Bolshie Koty. The site is located in a few meters from the trail, just behind the cape. It is convenient to consider the wonderful landscapes of Lake Baikal and its coasts. There are blurred Sayan Mountains in the blue mist in a distance.

Among other attractions of this route is the Cave Chapel, the monument of nature of regional significance. Scientists have found living environment of ancient people there: the arrow-heads of bone and iron, primitive knives, parts of the bow from the horns of animals, fragments of pottery and skeletons of animals. The chapel is interesting, first of all, as a valuable monument of the ancient history of Siberia.

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The end-point of 30-km journey is the Big Goloustnoe. There are tourist camps, cafes, shops in the village. The lake Sukhoe, relict poplar grove and the cave Okhotnichya, which are located around, are also can be interesting for tourists.

Trail "In the Wilds of Khamar-Daban"

You must first get to the village of Tankhoi. There are two ways you can use: by taxi (Irkutsk - Ulan-Ude) or by train.

The road leads from the village railway station to the side of Moscow highway and then to the plate "Baikal National Park". You need to move up the path to the main farmstead of the Park. The trail starts from the right side of the estate. There is an exhibition "Baikal on your hand", Nature Museum, ethnic city and a gift shop are located in a large estate at the entrance to reserved area.

The park personnel organize excursions for tourists; help to find accommodation and transport.

At the beginning the path (its length is 12 km) leads through the protected area of the park "Cedar alley", then descends to the floodplain of the river Osinovka, crosses it and continues along the left shore of the river with a gradual climb. Waterfall on the river Osinovka is certainly one of the most memorable attractions along the route.

But the main thing, why tourists pass 12 km through the forests, rivers and valleys is the “Khamar-Daban”. Beautiful mountain group stretches from West to East for more than 350 km. The highest point of the ridge is mount Khan-Ula (2371 m). 

The Northern part of the Khamar-Daban is the wettest place in Baikal region. There is about 1200 mm of precipitation per year. Warm, humid summer and high level of snow in winter creates favorable conditions for plant life. There are a variety of relict and endemic species in the mountain valleys. The Internet is full of pictures of these beautiful mountain slopes, flowing into green meadows, very similar to the Alpine.
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