Lake Baikal near the sanatorium  Links
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:: Links ::

The Tuttle rock formation- - The host site for this travel log, with more photos of Russia from my previous trips.  Please send comments about this site to me here.

- IREX - The International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) is the organizer of the US-Russia Volunteer Initiative (USRVI), the program I was on.

- ECA of the US State Department - the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the US Department of State.  Funders of the USRVI program.

- UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site.

- Brochure (PDF 4.2MB) - This is the brochure Melissa, Alex and I worked on for Zabaikalsky National Park.

A picnic table near Lake Baikal- Laboratory for Active Tourism (LAT) - Igor's company and the company that we worked for.  They are involved in the Great Baikal Trail and other local activities.

- Zabaikalsky National Park - This is the official site for Zabaikalsky National Park.

- The Great Baikal Trail (GBT) - A NGO that organizes work camps for the building, maintaining and expanding of various trails throughout the Lake Baikal region.

- Firn Travel - A local ecotourism company.  Can set up trail hiking trips to the National Park and accommodations in Ulan-Ude.

- Tahoe-Baikal Institute - A NGO set up to help preserve both Lake Tahoe and Lake Baikal.

Igor's Fishing stop- Baikal Plan - A German NGO that works with GBT and sends eco-volunteers mainly from Europe, to help with the trails around Lake Baikal.

- - A free and independent travel guide for Lake Baikal.

- Letters Home: Naj Wikoff - Home page and travel notes of Fulbright Scholar Naj Wikoff.

- Way to Russia - An all inclusive guide to travel in Russia, including information about Ulan-Ude and Lake Baikal area.

- Republic Buryatia - Information about the Republic of Buryatia.

- Lake Baikal Guidebook - A guidebook to Lake Baikal and the area.

The main gate at the datsan- Baikal-Club - Another tour group site with some background information about the Baikal area.

- Center for Russian Nature Conservation - This site has more information about Zabaikalsky National Park.

- REQ's home - Photos by Roberto Enrique Quijada including many from the Republic of Buryatia.

- Hambo Lama Itigelov - A site with information about the exhumation of the body of Hambo Lama Itigelov and the miracle surrounding the body which is located at Ivolginsky Datsan.

- Ghost Town - An interesting travel log about one person's motorcycle trip to the ghost town of Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear disaster to date.

:: Notes about our 2nd Trip to Lake Baikal ::

Tsogchen-dugan at Ivolginsky datsanWe also took a second trip to Lake Baikal, in the first week in November. Actually this trip included nearly 1/3 of the USRVI American volunteers. In total there were 9 of us who went on this trip. Igor booked us lodging at this tourist compound in the small town of Gremyanchisk, which is situated right on Lake Baikal. Here is a brief breakdown of what we did each day to go along with the extra photos in the photo gallery.

Day 1 - We left Ulan-Ude and drove to our sanatorium. After arriving we took a walk down to where the local river meets up with Lake Baikal. At night we went to the banya.

Day 2 - This was our day of hiking. We again walked up to where the river meet up with Lake Baikal, but this time we hired someone to ferry us across the river. At the hot spring complexThe boatman was like this octogenarian who took us a couple of people at a time in his little rowboat. We then proceeded along the beach for a while until we got to the nearest hill and we climbed the hill and came back down. We made a fire and cooked our lunch omul'. Unfortunately, the weather persistently got worse as the day went on, and by the time we were cooking our lunch it was really cold and even snowing. However, we could not go back to the compound, because we already had a prearranged time to be ferried back across the river; so we just huddled around the camp fire as the food cooked, all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. After we got back to the compound and had dinner we again went to the banya, which was much needed after our cold afternoon.

Day 3 - The weather on this day was the best of the lot. It was sunny and not too cold. We started off the day by walking along the beach in the other direction, away from the river. We got to a place where Igor set up shop to do some fishing. We left Igor to his half of a day fishing. We had an excursion scheduled. We got back to the compound and had lunch. Afterwards a bus took us to a local museum that was located in a school in the town of Turka. The museum had artifacts from the area: stuffed animals, geological samples, photographs and documents of historical note, examples of peasant paraphernalia, etc. After the museum, we made a quick stop to see some rock formations that were supposed to look like animals. The lion rock formationOne was a turtle and the second was a lion head: the picture of the turtle formation is the first photo on this page and the lion head is the one here. (Note: this was the day Alex finally found out what our sobriquet for him was and meant: Cherepaha; in English, turtle.) Then we tried to get into some hot springs. There was a set of hot springs located in another nearby small town. However we were too late to be admitted into the springs, as they closed at like 4:00PM. But in the hot spring complex we were able to have a drink from some mineral fountain and we sat on this bench and dipped our feet in a runoff hot stream. After we got back we went to the banya, for the last time.

Day 4 - This was our last day at the sanatorium, so we took one last walk along the beach. The weather started to get colder and snow started to fall. We had a hurried lunch, so we could get started before the road conditions got too bad. We made it back to Ulan-Ude all right.

Khurde (prayer drums) at Ivolginsky datsanDay 5 - Although we did not go to Lake Baikal this day we did go to another interesting site, the Ivolginsky Datsan. The Ivolginsky Datsan is the centre of Buddhism for all of Russia, as it is the residence of Russia's Buddhist's head, Pandito Khambo Lama. It also houses the imperishable remains of Hambo Lama Itigelov, who died in 1927, but his body's tissue miraculously is similar to body tissue of a living man's. We were given a tour by a local Buddhist monk. We went around the monastery in a clockwise direction as dictated by Buddhist custom. We also placed coins at and spun khurde, or prayer drums, that were situated along the path. By doing so we released the power of the prayer located inside each khurde. Rounding off the day some of us did other activities in Ulan-Ude: ate lunch in a yurt, visited the ethnographic museum, had dinner at an Azerbaijan restaurant, and finished the night off with beer and karaoke.

"Appo deepo bhava" [Be a light unto thyself] -Buddha

© 2005, 2006 Copyright by John Walkoe
This Website was made possible (in part) by a grant from IREX (the International Research & Exchanges Board) with funds provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the US Department of State. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.