This is Alex and today I’m going to tell you about the best places for retreat – tours. These tours are a relatively new trend in the travel industry, and they are gaining in popularity now. Retreat – tours help to move away from the everyday hustle and immerse in yourself, to make a stop and set up a new goal, open up a new opportunities and strengths in yourself.
I guess that in the post – pandemic era such travels will be even more popular than, because a lot of people are so depressed and desperate now, and they need to reboot themselves. Usually retreat – tours have a different route than most touristic trails, and their purposes are slightly different – some of them concentrate on doing yoga during a tour, some have more religious goal, like pilgrimage, and some head to the places, which have natural power.
I recently came across to an interesting website – RestartYouTravel, which specializes on such tours and places with great natural power in Russia. The website owner and the guide is the Russian businessman Petr Zozulya. He makes tours to the lake Baikal, the most Eastern region Kamchatka, lake Ladoga, and Altai mountains.
All these tours are unique and their routes go far away from the most popular touristy places. They will allow you to experience your physical and spiritual strength, to feel the local atmosphere, and introduce local traditions, customs, and local people as well.
Retreat tours to Baikal
Would you like to get away of your comfort zone and open up to a new space? Take the first step towards change and feel the power of nature? If yes, this trip is definitely for you!
The chief of this expedition Petr says “The place is difficult to understand and feel, if you passing it at speed and lazily looking out of the window. I believe that the traveler needs to walk a section of the path on foot. Leaving a part of strength as a gift and touching the power and spirit of the place. Therefore, in all of our tours you will find long trekking, and by the end of the day you will be tired but satisfied. Especially when you are greeted by a heated sauna, a delicious dinner, friendly conversation and a warm bed”.
I think his words help to understand the sense of this kind of tours. Many people dream of visiting Baikal, and some have never been here in winter. The lake is very far away from most countries and the way here is not cheap, but worth it. Therefore, tours to Baikal are gaining in popularity now.
The goal was to form the most diverse tour, that you can collect the entire palette of impressions in one visit. The program of the tour includes long trekking on the famous 1,5 meter ice of the lake Baikal, exploring inhabited and uninhabited islands, meeting with locals and the shaman, visiting the sacred places of Baikal, and tasting local delicacies.
Interesting facts about Baikal
Baykal is a lake of tectonic origin in the southern part of Eastern Siberia, the deepest lake on the planet and the largest natural reservoir of unsalted water, containing about 20% of the Earths freshwater supply. The lake has unique flora and fauna, and the local calls Baikal “a sacred sea”.
There are many legends and interesting facts about the lake, some of them are mystique.
- The water of Baikal is so pure that you can see the objects located at 40 meters of depth.
- The depth of the lake is 1642 meters, and this is the deepest lake on Earth.
- The temperature of the water is maximum 15C during the warmest summer days.
- Fisherman and locals have often reported glowing orbs above the lake.
- There are many grottoes on the shores of Baikal, and when the lake freezes in winter, the waves create gorgeous icicles in these grottoes.
Description of the tour
The maximum amount of people – 14, plus two guides and shaman. The starting point is in Irkutsk, the closest big city with the international airport, then the route goes to the village Listvyanka, which is the popular tourist destination, then Strait Maloye More, village Sakhyurta, island Olkhon, island Ogoy, Tazheran steppes and back to Irkutsk.
The duration of the tour is 8 days plus you need to consider a couple of days to get there and back. As I mentioned above, the route is designed that you will get acquainted with all the iconic places of Baikal. The cost is approximately $1300 plus travel expenses and some additional costs.
This tour is made for healthy people in good shape, but you don’t need a special preparation or training. To be able hiking on ice doesn’t require any special skills.
- Day 1. Meeting in Irkutsk. Walk along the Irkutsk Sloboda and visit to the Buddhist datsan. On the way to Baikal, which is 70 km from Irkutsk, there will be an excursion to the architectural and ethnographic museum “Taltsy”. Then check -in at the camp side in Listvyanka. Bath, dinner and Siberian tea in the evening. Acquaintance and discussion about the next day.
- Day 2. Transfer across the ice on Khivus (amphibious hovercraft) to the central part of the lake – village Sakhyurta. Approximate travel time is 5 hours. On the way there will be stops and small trekking tours. Picnic lunch in Peschanaya Bay.
- Day 3. Breakfast. Ice climbing and long trekking to the Cape Kobylya Golova. Lunch on the shore of the frozen lake Nuku -Nur on Olkhon island. Return to the recreation center and dinner. It is possible to organize a Siberian bath by a request.
- Day 4. Breakfast and transfer to the village Khuzhir – the main settlement on the Olkhon island. Trekking to the Cape Burkhan and Shamanka rock – the sacred place and a visiting card of Baikal. Walking through the pine forest and visiting the art gallery run by the local artist. There is a shop with a wide selection of souvenirs, amulets and jewelry here. At the end of the day you will have dinner at the cozy and authentic cafe.
- Day 5. Breakfast and transfer across Olkhon island to the village of Uzury with a beautiful bay. This is the place, where a paranormal happens most often. Local people associate this with the proximity of the deepest spot of Baikal. Trekking on ice to the northernmost point of the island Cape Khoboy. Return to the village Khuzhir and dinner.
- Day 6. Breakfast. Moving on the ice to the island Ogoy. Then exploring the southern part of Olkhon with lakes and ice caves. Stop for a lunch. Return to the camp in Sakhyurt. Dinner and meeting with the Supreme Shaman of Olkhon. Carrying out a ritual of purification and story about the local traditions, legends and rituals.
- Day 7. Breakfast and travel to the Tazherans. These steppes are known for its mysterious rock paintings, caves and shamanic shrines. The landscape is similar to the Mongolian steppes. After a lunch there will be a bus to Irkutsk. Check – in at the hotel and farewell dinner.
My own experience traveling to Baikal
I have been to Baikal twice, but both of my trips were too short – only one day. But I would love to on such a retreat tour, and I hope I can make it soon. My first trip to Baikal was in 2009. As some of you may know, I’am a musician and often I travel with a concert in Europe and Russia. In 2009, I was playing in Irkutsk, and the concert manager offered me to travel to Baikal the next day after my concert.
It was an unforgettable journey, despite it was so short! The second trip was pretty the same, with only difference – it was offered by one of the grateful listeners. We went to the Listvyanka village – the starting point of the most Baikal tours and a very touristy spot.
Now there are a lot of Chinese tourists here, at least it was before the pandemic, and many hotels are owned by a Chinese businessman. I traveled here during the spring time, and the lake was already free of ice. I tried the local fish – Baikal omul, and it was super tasty!!! The nature and the views are fantastic here and you can really feel the energy of that place.
Have you been to Baikal? I would love to here about your experience in the comment section below!!!