Photo Story – Trip to famous Lake Baikal via Listvyanka

Listvyanka Lake Baikal Russia Irkutsk
It’s snowing at Listvyanka, a viewing point of Lake Baikal

This is a continuation from: Eating in Irkutsk

If you asked me what I remembered about a visit to Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake. I would say it was beautiful but very cold. In fact, it was snowing when we arrived. It was quite a challenge to get to Listvyanka, as the bus stop was a 15min walk from our hostel at subzero temperatures. Nonetheless, as most seasoned travellers would agree, the most beautiful places are often hard to reach.

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To get to Listvyanka

To get to Lake Baikal, the nearest point is Listvyanka, some 70km away from Irkutsk. To get to Listvyanka from Irkutsk, it will be good to learn some basic Russian words so you can ask for directions. Otherwise, just wing it  – head down to the Bus Information Station (I included a picture of it below) and try to purchase some tickets.

Alternatively, you can take an hourly marshrutky (private van) which waits outside the bus station. Try asking the locals for help. A kind marshrutky driver told us quite wordlessly which van to take. Marshrutky sounds like the English pronunciation, Google translate for the exact way of saying it.

The waiting time can be up to an hour. We waited for 30 minutes. The trip costs RUB200/ USD6/ SGD8 one way and takes about 45 minutes because the driver goes fast. Listvyanka is the last stop, so you don’t have to worry about where to get off.

Irkutsk bus information centre russia
This is what I believe to be the bus information centre which you can get your tickets from. Do correct me if I am wrong!

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Listvyanka Fish Market Lake Baikal rice
Paella type of rice at the Fish Market
Kebab Seller - Listvyanka Fish Market Lake Baikal Russia
Kebab Seller – Listvyanka Fish Market

The fish market

When we arrive, it was snowing and very cold. Lake Baikal was there, at it’s calmest. It’s probably the first lake I have come across where I couldn’t see the opposite end of the shoreline.

It’s freezing cold and I have frost bite all over my hands. We hurry on inside, into a fish market. You can’t get much warmth there unless you stand next to the kebab seller. But then again the whiffs and smells of succulent omul makes you forget the frost bite that’s attacking your hands and feet.

Like in the post “Eating at Irkutsk“, we bought an Omul to try. It’s cheap – RUB50 for a fish, compared to the restaurant price of RUB400 (even though it comes with potatoes). It’s so good that we brought more back to the hostel. People at the fish market also sell some grilled meat, as well as paella rice.

The cold got so bad that we had to take rest at a coffee house before venturing out again to take more pictures of Lake Baikal.

Listvyanka Fish Market Omul Salted baked Lake Baikal
Fish seller selling all types of omul
Listvyanka Fish Market Omul Salted baked Lake Baikal
Salted Omul in toothpicks
Listvyanka Fish Market Omul Salted baked Lake Baikal
Omul at it’s best. I prefer this to the resturants.
Listvyanka Fish Market Fish roe Lake Baikal
They sell fish eggs too!

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Listvyanka Lake Baikal ducks pigeons cold
Ducks and pigeons who are not afraid of the cold

Lake Baikal

To be honest, the Dal Lake in Kashmir seems to be more interesting – with houseboats floating about, and people sitting in shikaras (little boats) going about their way of life.

I guess we just came in the wrong season. In Summer, I suppose you can even go skinny dipping in Lake Baikal, just make sure you don’t get bitten by an omul that’s swimming by!

Lake Baikal clear waters omul
Clear waters to go skinny dipping in. Be careful of a passing omul.

We also endured the pain of a frost bite to touch the clear Baikal waters. I licked my fingers to get a taste – it’s quite clear and sweet. My hands were screaming out in pain after that, but I survived.

Lake Baikal icy waters Listvyanka
Touching the icy waters of Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal Autumn benches
Beach benches to sit and marvel at the scenery in the summer

My advise is that if you want to enjoy Lake Baikal, go in summer. There are benches by the shore, and you can spend hours outdoor marvelling the misty mountains across the lake. It’s a sight to behold.

Lake Baikal mountains Listvyanka Russia
Viewing the misty mountains surrounding Lake Baikal

Watch this space for my next post, on the continuation of the 4 day Trans Siberian train ride.

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