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Olkhon Island/Russia

Introducing Olkhon Island

Halfway up Lake Baikal's western shore and reached by a short ferry journey from Sakhyurta (aka MRS), the serenely beautiful Olkhon Island is a wonderful place from which to view the lake and relax during a tour of Siberia. Considered one of five global poles of shamanic energy by the Buryat people, the 72km-long island's main settlement is Khuzhir, which has seen something of a tourist boom over the last few years mainly thanks to the inspiring efforts of Nikita's Guest House, which also runs the tourist information office(9am-9pm) outside its premises. For a good map of the island go to www.baikalex.com/info/map_olkhon.html.

Although peak season is July and August, also consider visiting during the quiet winter months, when you can drive across the ice to the island until early April. Olkhon was reconnected to the electricity grid in 2005 and mobile phones now work in Khuzhir.