Worth a Trip: Bolshie Koty
Tiny and roadless, this serene Baikal village is what the great Siberian escape is all about. But things weren’t always this quiet: in the 19th century Koty experienced a mini gold rush and boasted soap and candle factories, a glassworks, churches and a school. Today all that’s long over, leaving Irkutsk bourgeoisie to assemble their lakeside dachas in peace.
A section of the Great Baikal Trail runs between Koty and Listvyanka, and is a fabulous full- or half-day hike (around 20km). Take plenty of food (drink from the lake) as there’s none en route.
Two-day guided treks from Listvyanka to Bolshie Koty with Baikaler cost R7000 person (provided there are at least two people to form a group), including accommodation and food.
The only other way to reach Bolshie Koty (unless you hike from Listvyanka) is aboard one of the three hydrofoils a day from Irkutsk (via Listvyanka). Check VSRP for times and ticket prices. Winter ice roads briefly unite the village with the outside world.
Three minutes’ walk from the hydrofoil quay is the Lesnaya 7 Hostel.