WHEN everything around is frozen during winter, the world’s largest, oldest and deepest lake, Lake Baikal transforms into a magical winter wonderland. Its ice-thick surface is a winter sports playground and the snow-covered taiga woods, an enchanted setting.
Situated in southeast Siberia, Lake Baikal — a Unesco World Heritage site —
In one of the caves around Lake Baikal; Vehicles crossing the frozen lake; The frozen lake of Baikal; A house on Olkhon Island. attracts thousands of visitors to its shores all year around.
In summer, Olkhon Island — the fourthlargest lake-bound island in the world and the largest island in Lake Baikal — is crowded with tourists from all over the world. There are many hotels and homestays.
Lucky for me, winter is not peak tourist season. I stayed there for three nights on a stopover during a Trans-Siberian train trip which started from Beijing in China.
Earlier, I had a week’s layover in Ulan Bator, Mongolia before the train journey continued to Irkutsk, Russia. From Irkutsk Station, I went to Olkhon Island in a van. The six-hour journey of 300km on the icy road plus the last 12km crossing the frozen lake was an amazing experience. I spent the three days exploring the northern and southern parts of the lake.