Hiking along the Baikal Lake in Listvyanka

I had been spending all morning in the warmth of the hostel, but it was time to brave the cold outside.

I asked the receptionist about the best way to get to the Baikal Lake and she suggested that I take a bus to the town of Listvyanka and spend two nights there.

The first step outside was the most difficult one, but once you get moving the cold doesn’t really bother you, especially if you are wearing a Russian fur hat. I still had plenty of time so I could spend most of it walking around Irkutsk and doing some sightseeing. Besides the beautiful wooden houses and some historical buildings, Irkutsk didn’t have that much to offer. I had a bit of a difficulty finding the right bus but i did manage to catch the last one just in time.

The bus ride was an experience if its own. We were driving up and down the hills at the fastest speed the old Soviet bus could muster, whilst slightly sliding on the icy road, everytime the driver stepped on the break too hard. The harrowing journey came to an end the moment we arrived in Listvyanka. I was the last one left on the bus and the town did have the vibe of a ghost town.

I woke up early but tired the next morning, still dealing with the change in time zones I had crossed the last couple of days.

There wasn’t much to do in Listvyanka, so the only sensible thing to do was to take a hike and stretch my legs. First I passed some old wooden Siberian houses, new homes and then the beginning of a forest. The hike became more difficult, the incline steadily increasing until I felt too warm even at -5c. I stopped for a break and listened to the trees swaying in the wind. It sounded like a distant waterfall until the sound of a woodpecker disturbed the rhythm. I followed it further up the hill before I continued the climb.

Each step became more difficult but I kept myself motivated to take that one extra step by telling myself that there will be something great to take photos of once I got to the top.

My plan worked, as I made it to a clearing with wonderful views across the Baikal lake. The way back was much easier with each step being rewarded with another stunning vista of the lake, sky or the distant mountains. The sun was getting lower and the light dimmer by the minute and I had lost the path I was treading on. I just followed some animal tracks that were heading the right direction, although thinking about it it might have led me to a pack of wolves if I weren’t too careful.

I finally came across a dirt road, then a farm and then the lakefront resort. The sun just vanished behind the horizon, leaving a beautiful hue of colours on the horizon. I took some more pictures before I headed back to the guest house and then Irkutsk the next day.