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Baikal Pathways

Project timeline: February 5th – 14th 2018

Languages used: English, Russian

Project starting point: Irkutsk

Project locations: Irkutsk — Staraya Angasolka (Circum-Baikal Railway) — Slyudyanka — Tankhoi — Irkutsk

Project goal: Provide volunteer assistance to the Baikal Nature Reserve by promoting the development of socially responsible eco-tourism through creating informational boards and posters, conducting educational classes on ecology and environmental protection, and volunteering with schoolchildren.


Day 1 (Monday, February 5th)

  • Arrival of participants in Irkutsk;
  • Check into the hostel;
  • Meeting and orientation to the project.

On this day we will take a walking tour around the city, which is already more than 350 years old. We will get to know Irkutsk’s history and architecture and discover many interesting facts.
At the end of the day, we will instruct you about the upcoming trip to Staraya Angasolka, a small town located on the shore of Lake Baikal on the Circum-Baikal Railway.

Day 2 (Tuesday, February 6th)

Departure from Irkutsk to Staraya Angasolka.

In the morning we will meet at the GBT office, take a bus to a railway station, and catch a train to Tyomnaya Pad’ station. Once there we will walk to the shore of Lake Baikal and to the Circum-Baikal Railway.
We will be staying at a climbing camp for a couple of days, enjoying beautiful sites of the Circum-Baikal Railway, and learning the history of its construction.

Day 3 (Wednesday, February 7th)

On our second day at the Circum-Baikal Railway we will translate existing GBT brochures and create new ones.

Day 4 (Thursday, February 8th)

Early in the morning we will pack up and hike across frozen Lake Baikal to Slyudyanka. We will have a lunch meeting with a representative from the local eco-tourism industry. We will attend a lecture about the Tea Road. By the evening we will head to Tankhoi.

Tankhoi is located in a picturesque place on the shore of Lake Baikal, between the cities of Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude at the foot of the Khamar-Daban Mountains. We will spend five days participating in activities with the Baikal Nature Reserve and enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding environment.

Days 5, 6, 7 and 8 (Friday-Monday, February 9th–12th)

We will be staying at the Baikal Nature Reserve Visitor’s Center. We will work on developing a winter route within the nature reserve’s territory. We will help to plan children’s events at the Visitor’s Center, and we may be able to carry out one of these events if time permits. We will also discuss ideas for remodeling the old Visitor’s Center and remove snow from the boardwalk among other things.

Free time: You’ll be able to walk around on the ice of Baikal, or on the boardwalk (after we remove the snow from it), snowshoe, enjoy the view of the snowy peaks of the Khamar-Daban Mountains, visit the Museum of Buryat Culture, take a picture with your own Baikal snowman, or even see white-coated baby nerpa seals from afar if you are lucky. Also, on one of the days, we will be able to experience a Russian banya and local cuisine.

Day 9 (Tuesday, February 13th)

  • The last day of work in the nature reserve;
  • Summary of the project;
  • Certificate presentations.

During the first half of the day we will continue work in the nature reserve. The second half of the day will be allotted for free time to gather our things and take a final walk to Baikal. In the evening we will have our final gathering to present awards and have tea.

Day 10 (Wednesday, February 14th)

  • Departure by bus from Tankhoi to Irkutsk;
  • End of the project.

After breakfast we will board a bus back to Irkutsk. We expect to arrive in the city in the afternoon.

Participation fee:
23, 000 RUB.

The participation fee includes:

  • Accommodation in Irkutsk on day 1 and 10;
  • Train tickets to Tyomnaya Pad’ station;
  • Transportation from Slyudyanka to Tankhoi and to Irkutsk (public transportation in Irkutsk is not included);
  • Accommodation and meals at the climbing camp in Staraya Angasolka;
  • Meals in Slyudyanka;
  • Room and board at the Visitor’s Center in Tankhoi from day 3 through 10 of the project (February 3rd- 10th) until returning to Irkutsk.

The participation fee does not include:

  • Travel around Irkutsk;
  • Meals in Irkutsk;
  • Accommodation in Irkutsk on the final day of the project;
  • Additional excursions to museums, attractions, etc.
  • We will provide all equipment and materials necessary for volunteer work, including dishes and other equipment for preparing food.

    In the group, there will be a translator that will be able to provide communication between the participants, and a project leader that will organize the work of the group.

    Physical requirements for the project: You will sometimes be asked to carry a backpack with your belongings and the group’s foodstuff. You will also be hiking all day in winter conditions, on ice as well in forests.

    Necessary equipment:
    You need to bring a backpack with a volume of no less than 60L and boots with ice cleats. You may wish to bring a thermos (for day trips) and a laptop (to work on different projects at the nature reserve).
    Also, take time to do a little research to learn more about the climate in the Baikal region in February so that you can pack appropriate clothing and footwear. During the day the temperature could be anywhere from -5° to -20° C (depending on the year). It’s therefore necessary to make sure that you have warm windproof clothing and water-resistant shoes.
    Accommodation and meals in Irkutsk: Accommodation in Irkutsk on the first day of the project is included in the participation fee. On the final day accommodation is not included. Meals in Irkutsk are also not included in the project fee, since some participants will want to eat out in a café or restaurant and other participants will want to prepare their own food in the hostel kitchen.
    In the event of unforeseen circumstances, GBT maintains the right to close the project or make changes to the program, while informing all participants beforehand.

    It's very important for us to plan for the right number of participants in our projects. This is why we're asking for a deposit of 80 USD to be paid within two weeks of your application. This amount will be counted as part of the total project fee of 23000 RUB. It covers the cost of your visa invitation, project preparation, the purchase of all necessary supplies and administrative expenses. In case you decide to cancel, your deposit is non-refundable. Payment information can be downloaded here.