Olkhon Island, Irkutsk Oblast, Russia (with Map & Photos)

Olkhon Island is a large island located in Lake Baikal, Russia. This piece of land, reminiscent in its shape of the outlines of Lake Baikal itself, has long been shrouded in an aura of mystery. Mysterious history, rich nature, diversity of landscapes, and protected areas, almost untouched by civilization, attract hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world to the shores of Olkhon Island. In 2019, it was included in the list of the best places to travel, compiled by the American newspaper The New York Times.

Olkhon Island Russia
Olkhon Island Russia

Here are some key details about Olkhon Island:

1. Location

Olkhon Island is situated in the middle of Lake Baikal, which is located in Siberia, Russia. Lake Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake in the world and one of the oldest, estimated to be around 25 million years old.

2. Size

Olkhon Island is the largest island in Lake Baikal, covering an area of approximately 730 square kilometers (280 square miles). It is about 71 kilometers (44 miles) long and 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide at its widest point.

3. Geography

The island is characterized by diverse and picturesque landscapes, including forests, steppe areas, rocky cliffs, and sandy beaches. The northern part of the island is mountainous, while the southern part is relatively flat.

4. Indigenous People

Olkhon Island is historically and culturally significant, as it is the ancestral land of the indigenous Buryat people. These people have a rich spiritual and cultural connection to the island, and it is considered a sacred place.

5. Tourism

Olkhon Island has become a popular destination for tourists, particularly in the summer months. Visitors are drawn to the island's natural beauty, hiking opportunities, and the chance to explore Lake Baikal. The village of Khuzhir is the main settlement on the island and serves as a base for tourists.

6. Shamanism

The island is also known for its strong connection to shamanism. Shamanistic practices and beliefs are still prevalent among the local Buryat population, and tourists can learn about these spiritual traditions while visiting the island.

7. Activities

Tourists can engage in various activities on Olkhon Island, such as hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, and wildlife observation. The island is also famous for its ice roads during the winter months when Lake Baikal freezes, allowing for unique transportation experiences.

8. Natural Beauty

One of the iconic landmarks on Olkhon Island is the Shaman Rock, a distinctive limestone formation that is considered a sacred site. The island offers stunning panoramic views of Lake Baikal and the surrounding mountains.

Olkhon Island is a place of natural beauty and cultural significance, making it a unique destination for travelers interested in exploring the Siberian wilderness and learning about the local culture and traditions.

Olkhon Island Map