Olkhon Island and the frozen waters of lake Baikal
Posted by Ra Moon
For five months at the year, the unique lake Baikal in West Siberia, Russia, it's sealed by an ice sheet up to a meter thick. To have an idea of its size and importance, Baikal is a massive natural water reservoir: it contains one fifth of all the water found in the lakes and rivers of our planet.
Also, this is a popular stop in the route of the Trans-Siberian Railway, near Irkutsk. What is not so popular, is to go there during the bastard-cold winter, and to bring back these amazing shots, as the photographer Marco Fieber did:
Imagine you having the chance of driving over a desert of frozen water, until an oasis of crystallized rock.
During the winter months, very few visitors arrive here to experience a tour over the shifting ice plates of Baikal.
The perspective changes completely, and you can have access to other parts of Olkhon Island, like these ice caves.
The around one meter thick ice cover, is hard enough to resist the weight of the vehicles until approximately March or April.
The ice below your feet can be transparent as if you were walking on water, or shiny like a silver mirror.
As a tourist you can join a tour, usually leaving from Irkutsk, that can last for a few days.
Olkhon Island is a perfect retreat to get away from civilization, almost hermit style.
This place is of great importance for the ancient Siberian shamanistic tradition, the common religion of the indigenous peoples of this land, the Buryats.
Travelling this regions in winter maybe a tricky adventure, as many services just don't work and everything slows down.
But once you get used to the cold, and after catching and almost permanent congestion, you may appreciate the fabulous charms of travelling off-season.
Sometimes is good to feel like you are almost the only tourist in town.
View Olkhon Island and Lake Baikal in a larger map