For almost an hour we are driving through the woods to Listvyanka. The road is up and down hill and feels more like a huge rollercoaster. It’s 08:30am and we just got out of the Trans Mongolian Railway. Listvyanka is a small village South West located on the shore of Lake Baikal. Friends back home tipped me to go spend a night on Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal.
Our driver drops us of at the homestay we booked ahead. A large man, with a rather Mongolian appearance then Russian welcomes us. We’re looking at a garden full of flowers and two wooden cottages. They remind me of ski chalets. The sun is shining, but after four days being offline, we go to the first, best spot with Wi-Fi: Berghaus.
In the summer, Russians and tourist come to Lake Baikal to swim and sunbath. In wintertime there falls a lot of snow, is the lake frozen and the temperature 20 degrees below zero. Autumn is rainy, photogenic and off-season. We have omul for dinner, a local fish specialty, not knowing we get the same fish the next morning again served for breakfast.
Happy to be surrounded by nature, we take a deep breath and smell the fresh air. We walk by the lake and take in the beautiful view. At our right is a crystal clear lake, with a backdrop of snowed mountain peaks and at our left hills covered with conifers and broadleaf trees in all kinds of autumn colours. In de harbour, which is also the city centre of Listvyanka, we hear that in low season it’s not possible to go by boat to the island. We can take a 12-hour bus ride, but that’s even for us after having been for four days in a train, a bit too much.
We stroll criss-cross through the village. Up hill the cottages look more, and more authentic. The wooden, colourful homes, with ornate shutters are characteristic for Siberia. The gardens are full of different flowers next to rusty Lada’s, a speedboat or an overgrown Volkswagen minibus. Behind the cottages the hills go steep up. Dense covered with endless green and bright yellow fall threes. It’s fogy the clouds hang low. I feel like walking on a Tim Walker set. I can’t stop photographing.
After rain come veil clouds
Upon arrival my plan was still to take a dip in the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. But I have put it out of my mind. After 1,5 day of rain, it’s finally dry. Today we go to the skiing slope. Dressed in warm clothes and beanies on. The chair-lift is set in to motion for us. We glide over a landscape, way more beautiful then even the best picture I took. I have never seen such incredible, beautiful nature. As far as you can look, you see mountains covered with hundreds, thousands of colourful threes. Behind us, the lake with on the other side snowed mountain peaks. At the best viewing point we take a break and eat our lunch. No island, touristic tour or dip in the lake. But Baikal in fall is the ultimate tip for everyone who is planning to go here.