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The Heart of Siberia

Olkhon is the biggest island of Baikal and the largest lake-bound island in the world. It has become the lake’s energetic center. Picturesque landscapes, sandy bays, steep capes with unusual shapes make Olkhon a place to treasure.

  • length: 71.7 km / 44.6 ml
  • width: 14 km / 8.7 ml
  • area: 730 km2
  • highest point: 1274 m

Khuzhir is the largest and the only settlement on Olkhon Island with the population of about 1,300 people. Khuzhir is translated from the Buryat language as “salt-marshes” or “solonetz”. In former times the island was inhabited by the Kurykans who had Turkish origin. They were originally nomadic, had a written language, but began to settle here and maintain a home. Their civilization existed for several hundreds of years. It is disputable when and where this nation disappeared. Today the primary means of making a living for the community is fishing. Once electricity was connected to the island, hotels and small businesses started developing.

The key points of interest in Khuzhir are Cape Burkhan and Shamanka Rock which are one of Baikal’s calling card for tourists. This sacred place has many legends and stories. A lot of archeological finds were discovered at Cape Burkhan and its vicinities over the years. These include 18th century coins, a nephrite knife, an axe, arrow-heads, ceramics, items made out of stone, bone, iron, gold, and other items from the Bronze and Neolithic Ages. There is trace evidence of ancient inhabitants, burial places dated from different centuries, and petroglyphic drawings. The second place of interest is the ethnographical museum founded by a director and a secondary school teacher N.M. Revyakin in the 50-s. He was interested in natural history, ethnography, history, and other relevant sciences. He studied Olkhon Island with his students. Thus, he discovered dozens of Kurykan burial grounds, encampments dating to the Bronze Age inhabitants, old-growth spruce grove, and endemic species of plants. His contributions to the body of knowledge are highly valued and his daughter continues his work as museum curator.

Next to the village there is another interesting place – Saraysky bay . The sandy beach is 3 km long and the width is about 1 km. Cozy meadows and glades surrounded by pine forest are behind the sandy banks. The bay is shallow and in summer the water is warm enough to swim.

One can take a Ferry Boat across the Strait of Olkhonskiye Vorota (Gates) to get to the island in the summer. During the winter time there is an ice bridge from MRS village across Irkutsky Bay and it is also possible to go by car. When the Lake is not frozen it is also possible to travel by motor boat to the island.

Olkhon tour

Lake Baikal experiences around 2000 earthquakes per year. A large number of earthquakes is a direct consequence of the movements of huge plates of the earth.
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