How we explored Olkhon island.

Three of us traveled to Olkhon: Seamus, from Britain, myself and my classmate, the famous driver Sergey Ermak. We took adventure - tourist gear, three bottles of vodka and two empty baskets for fish. Ermak was supposed to drive us to the island (around 250km from Irkutsk) in his Toyota, stay with us several days, somehow get the special Baikal fish (Omul) and return to Irkutsk alone. Meanwhile Seamus and I planned to take a boat from Olkhon to reach the beautiful Sandy Bay (Bukhta Peschanaya) further up the west coast of iing Lake Baikal

Ermak had been shockingly dumped by his girlfriend just before we left Irkutsk,which might explain his driving 120 kmh along winding country roads. In two and a half hours we got to the village with the strange abbreviation name MRS - where there is the only one way to the island : ferry with a capacity of five cars and two trucks. The region administration finances the ferry and it is supposedly free for users. But the finance is poor, which makes the ferry's schedule difficult to predict. Also, the crew don't want to give free rides, so they pretend to be fixing the fairy while the number of people and vehicles on the opposite bank is grows. After a long while, the people agree to pay to get to/from Olkhon island.

We got to the ferry and successfully continued our trip into the island. The majority of population are concentrated in the village of Khuzir. In the village is a fish processing plant where we planned to buy some fish. However, people there charged almost Irkutsk price so we find a cheaper private source. There used to be a diesel -electro power station supplying with electricity to all villages but this has now closed down because of lack finance. Nevertheless, all working local people have their own small gas generators: one for two or three families.

After a short stop in the "capital" (twice we were told that if we went further we would not be able drive over the sand line which crosses the road) of the island, we decided to continue. After about 10km our driver Ermak put on his cool sun glasses and immediately we got stuck in the sand! The first of our three bottles of vodka was need to persuade the driver of a passing truck to pull us out. We decided not to go any further and drove down to the bank of "Small Sea " area. The place was perfect for camping! The love-sick Ermak then inexplicably decided to drive his car close to the shore and got stuck in the sand again! A group of fishermen with a large truck, used to get their catch to market, helped pull him out. As a real gentlemen, we of course organized a drinking party in their honor. The party lasted over the whole midsummer night, greeting the Baikal dawn through very vodkered eyes. To my surprise, the fishermen were able to work next day - brining in a good catch of Omul form the nets laid before the drinking started - as we lay in the tent recovering.

My personal feeling during our time in Olkhon Island could be described as a "in touch with nature" I wish we had had more time to see more precisely the Holy (Burkhan) Stone and to visit the north of the island where Baikal's unique seals ( nerpas) are found. But I believe, I'll be there again!

Olkhon. Next page about me