Who says that a beach needs to be by the sea? The beaches on the mystical Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal provided me with some of the most beautiful views and enjoyable moments of any backpacking trips I have taken.
Staying at Nikita's Homestead I met many other backpackers railing their way across Russia, as well as groups of schoolchildren on their summer vacations; ate large quantities of Baikal's native fish 'omul' and spent many hours on the beaches attempting to brave the lake's freezing waters or watching the sunset with a few beers. As a result of the hectic journey every traveller must endure to reach the island, six hours from the nearest train station, an oasis of relaxation and calm is created.
The owners are incredibly welcoming and have almost single-handedly created the tourist industry on the island. To any backpacker travelling across Russia I thoroughly recommend a visit to the island.
Nikita's Homestead www.olkhon.info/en/
Nearest rail station is Irkutsk (80 hours from Moscow) and from there take a six-hour marshrutka taxi and a ferry from Khuzir to reach the island (almost inaccessible during months when the ice is melting or forming).
Google map: tinyurl.com/348wldl
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