:: Links ::
Walkoe.com - The host site for
this travel log, with more photos of Russia from my previous
trips. Please send comments about this site to me
- 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.
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
World Heritage site.
(PDF 4.2MB) - This is the brochure Melissa, Alex and I worked on for
Zabaikalsky National Park.
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.
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.
Plan - A German NGO that works with GBT
and sends eco-volunteers mainly from Europe, to help with the trails
around Lake Baikal.
Baikalinfo.com - A free and
independent travel guide for Lake Baikal.
Letters Home: Naj Wikoff -
Home page and travel notes of Fulbright Scholar Naj Wikoff.
to Russia - An all inclusive guide to
travel in Russia, including information about Ulan-Ude and Lake
Republic Buryatia -
Information about the Republic of Buryatia.
Lake Baikal Guidebook - A
guidebook to Lake Baikal and the area.
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
- An interesting travel log about one person's motorcycle trip to the
ghost town of Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear disaster to
Notes about our 2nd Trip to Lake Baikal ::
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.
The 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
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.
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
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
Day 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.