The main attractions of Olkhon
To begin with, Olkhon itself is already a landmark. The largest island on one of the greatest lakes in the world! This natural object can be safely attributed to the natural monument of the greatness of nature. Let’s see together what is special here … Olkhon — what sights are covered in this amazing place?
Briefly about the island
Olkhon, whose sights are evenly “scattered” throughout the territory, is an array of land in the central part of Lake Baikal. The length of 73 to 15 km provides space for travel. Given the uniqueness of Lake Baikal itself, Olkhon has every reason to become a tourist “Mecca” in the near future. Especially when you consider the popularity of wildlife and survival in extreme conditions.
Olkhon Square is 3 times smaller than Moscow. Almost 30% of the territory is occupied by dense Siberian forests, which gave the name to this piece of land: “Olkhon” from Buryat means “little forest.”
A little to the east of this “little forest” there is the deepest point of the deepest lake of the Earth — minus 1.642 meters. This location makes Olkhon a place known all over the world! Professional photographers and journalists writing about nature have long chosen these places …
Where to go first?
What to look at Olkhon? For a tourist, it is possible to conditionally draw a border among a large number of remarkable places and objects — natural and man-made objects.
If you are heading to Olkhon, then most likely you will arrive in Hunzhir — the largest settlement on the island. Given that the entire population of this microworld leaves less than 2,000 inhabitants, it is not necessary to rely on a developed infrastructure.
Minimum — shops, a couple of cafes, gas stations and other signs of civilization — all that can be expected.
In the summer, there is an influx of tourists, which gives an impetus to the opening of points of sale and equipment hire. Tourism and recreation in the wilds — this is the main wealth and attraction of Olkhon! But more on that later.
In the meantime, in Hungar: a snack and ready to rest!
Visit the museum of local lore — it is the result of the whole life journey of Nikolai Revyakin, an outstanding teacher, local historian and founder of the museum. Over the long years of hard work, he managed to assemble a collection of almost 5,000 copies, which cover the history of Olkhon from the Neolithic to the present day. The museum is unique and has an incredible energy. You will be in Hungar — come to be sure!
20 km to the north of the village is a picturesque landscape — Nyurgan Bay. This natural object is unique in itself: the local dunes have a pristine beauty and mystery. This small piece of the coast has a tragic and extremely interesting story. In the middle of the last century, there was a village here, which in 1970 was safely brought by the oncoming sand. The evidence of the attack of nature that remained now remains — this is a wooden gat for movement on the sand. Imagine a whole street of 20 houses, with roads and personal items left underground. Right under your feet!
A little earlier, at the beginning of the century, a prison was founded here, which gained momentum in the period of post-war repression. In 2012, in memory of convicts and special deportees, local residents established a cross with the inscription “This place remembers the suffering of victims of repression of the mid-20th century”.
Even the sand itself in Peschanka (this was the name of this buried village) is not so simple — it is lilac. This shade is due to the fine particles of semi-precious garnet, which are contained in the granules. It also contains radioactive thorium. But the level of the background in the territory does not go beyond the permissible limits!
Unique stilted trees grow here! They can be found at the equator, in the tropics — but for the permafrost region … This is unique! If you don’t take time to get acquainted with such a grove, then you shouldn’t go to Olkhon. For survival on sandy soils, local larch and pine trees have adapted to form a special type of root system — they are called stilted trees. Look at them and see — the impression that they are in a hurry somewhere …
Khorgoy Peninsula — the largest protrusion of Olkhon into the lake. He is crowned by the eponymous cape. This is where the Kurykan Protective Wall is located — an ancient structure, 2 meters high and 292 meters long. It cuts off a cape from the main part of the peninsula. Its purpose is probably ritual and cult: slabs and structures were found on the broken-up area, which served as a place for sacrifices. Now the wall is partially destroyed and in some places difficult to distinguish. The technology itself, with which the structure is folded, deserves respect: there is no solution, and stones of such size that only a few people could lift them at a time.
Similar walls are periodically opened in other parts of Olkhon. Their purpose as a fortification is refuted. A lot of mysterious stones can strengthen the sacred purpose of such walls.
Be sure to visit the lake Hanha! This natural body of water is separated from the main part of Lake Baikal by a rock ridge, which plummets into a majestic lake with a sheer wall. The side facing Hanhoi, on the contrary, descends smoothly and gradually goes under water.
For communication with Baikal, there is a channel, 1 meter wide, through which the water exchange takes place. These are the communicating vessels!
The water in Khankhoy is warm and rich in fish, which makes this place a cult place for tourists. The lake is shallow, up to 4 meters, and overgrown in places. But such a border from Baikal makes it unique and incredibly picturesque!
Cape Khorin-Irgi is the famous “Mare’s Head”, which is what the island lovers like to discover. The confirmation? Please — in 1981 this peninsula became the State Natural Monument. The number of archaeological finds on the island just rolls over!
The first people appeared here more than 5,000 years ago. This is where the cult complex. The age of 300-400 years, which managed to wrest from the clutches of antiquity and dig for study. The coast of the island is dotted with bays, in one of which there was a major disaster on Baikal — the ship died, and with it 176 people. It was in 1901.
Legends link the name of the peninsula with the rest of Genghis Khan’s hordes in these places. Allegedly, after a long and very pleasant stay here, the Asian wars left a huge vat, the contents of which you guess yourself … Experts believe that the name of the peninsula gave the cape, which in profile resembles the head of a horse.
Olkhon Island, whose sights are not for the weak, is always happy for active tourists who love adventures. Mount Jima — the highest point of the island, which rises to 1.276 meters from sea level. And 10 km to the east is the very bottom mark of Baikal, which has no analogues in the world!
Zhima is a sacred place of indigenous people. It is this mountain that serves as the abode of gods and spirits. Earlier there was an old hut and a hut, which served as a haven for local shamans. The supreme god appears as an old man with a long beard. He is gracious to the guests and repeatedly helped the lost children to go to their homes.
Excursion requires strength, and not only spiritual: there is no path and you will have to walk through a dense forest. Water must be seized in the camp — there are no sources on the slopes of the Press. This test, the reward for which will be a stunning view of the surrounding expanses!
Meet the isolated world
The sights of Olkhon are simple and unpretentious. They are created by nature or by ancient settlers. There are no towers and castles, large palace complexes and giant buildings. But every meter of the island’s territory is saturated with history and the power of the natural, real world. At any point you should take a minute and feel the surrounding landscapes — and you will understand why you should come here!
Sand with pomegranate and thorium, a museum covering 5 thousand years of history, Siberian pines with roots of tropical trees, an ancient wall for a place of sacrifice — this island is unique and is a separate civilization, with its own character and feelings.
Staying on Olkhon requires obtaining permission from local authorities. This is not bureaucracy, but protection: almost the whole island is a protected territory.
The sights of the island Olkhon offer incredible spaces and opportunities for research to amateur tourists, professional scientists and anyone who wants to experience the greatness of natural beauty!