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Lake Baïkal is one of the ultimate frozen landscapes on this planet. The combination of very cold temperatures and crystal clear water create a very photogenic setting, boasting ice-sculptures, deep cracks and clear ice as far as the eye can see. We discover frozen caves along the coastline, ice-covered cliffs, fields of shelf ice and a surprisingly colourful culture. The sun shines low in this Arctic-like environment, where we go out to photograph before sunrise, returning long after the sun has set. Our cars are closeby to warm us up in between shoots.
Crossing the lake from west to east, we visit several hotspots on the ice and the shores. Prepare to photograph the most stunning frozen lake on earth and the mysterious villages that surround it, including the sacred centre of the shamans: Olkhon Island. Are you ready?
A FASCINATING WORLD OF ICE
Lake Baïkal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world: 636 kilometres long, 80 kilometres wide and 1642 meters deep. It represents 20% of the global freshwater supply. Because the water is so clear, you can see through the ice up to 40 meters deep! During 5 months a year, the lake is covered with ice as thick as 2 meters.
We set out to photograph the ice and all the amazing cracks, sculptures and caves we discover as we go along. While walking this glassy surface is a mesmerizing experience, temperatures descend to about -20°C, windchill factor not included. Are you impressed yet?
ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT
We selected a wide range of accommodations, from fancy hotels in Irkutsk till local guesthouses with the famous ‘banjas’ ( a Russian sauna). In these guesthouses, we enjoy local fish and local hospitality. We also join them to go and catch the fish we eat.
Travelling with two traditional Russian-made UAZ-452 busses, we are more than well equipped to explore the ice of Lake Baïkal, and can warm up at any time. At the end of our trip, we hop on board of the world-famous Trans Siberian Express and travel along the lake, back to Irkutsk. We promise stunning window views every step of the way.
Everybody is welcome on this tour, whether you’re a beginner or a pro.
I will always be around to help with any questions and to inspire you to try out new techniques and find new perspectives. Do you wonder why Lake Baïkal draws so many photographers to its shores? Come and discover for yourself!
We hardly encounter any wildlife, save for a rare Baïkal seal, so this is a pure landscape photography tour. Get your wide-angle lenses ready for some frosty action! We work in the best light conditions, so we’re out early mornings and late evenings. In February the soft light reigns all day, giving us full days for shooting.
You will be informed thoroughly about the needed equipment after booking, but wide-angle lenses, polarizers and a strong tripod will basically do. Don’t forget those gloves!
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
We will spend long days outside in temperatures varying from -10°C to -25°C, so warm down jackets, polar boots and thick gloves are indispensable. We’ll provide you with a detailed list of clothes and equipment to pack, so you are sure to start this icy expedition well prepared. And remember, our cars will always be near to get those toes and fingers moving again!
As we walk on the slippery ice, crampons on your shoes will keep you safe. Anyone with a normal physical condition can join this trip, so no reason to miss out!
I dreamt of visiting Lake Baïkal for many, many years. After my first visit in 2017, I went back and explored all the best photographic spots I had been reading about. As a result, I know very well where to go and when the best time is. Ice and any Arctic-like landscape truly fascinate me. I make it my goal to inspire you to view this magical winter world from many different angles.
I’m also a bit of a gear freak, so be ready to explore your camera settings, the possibilities of your tripod, what kind of filters to use, even how best to wear your backpack.
Even if you are an experienced photographer, I’ll keep an eye out for you and help you whenever I think I can give you some advice.