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Olkhon island

Welcome to Olkhon island, the biggest island in Baikal, with steep mountains on the Eastern shore. The western shore ends with the many bays of the Maloye More. The island is 72 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide with a population of 1500 people. The major occupations are fishing and cattle berding. The island's aboriginal people are Buryats. The "capital" of the island is Khuzhir. Scientists still debate whether "Olkhon" translates as "little forest" or "dry" as both names fit well. The amount of precipitation is extremely low here - about 240 mm per year.

Olkhon has a great combination of landscapes and is rich with archeological landmarks. It was the first place on Baikal where Russian explorers visited during the 17th century). Olkhon is the geographical, historical and sacred center of Baikal, the heart of many legends and fairy tales and is believed to the home of many Baikal spirits. Legends say that Khan Gutababai came here and was sent by high spirits from the Heavens. He was the head of all khans. His son Shubunkua still lives here as a white eagle.

Olkhon has many beautiful places, and everyone discovers his or her own beautiful place on Olkhon. Below are descriptions of some of the most popular tourist locations. We love our island, and want to preserve it as is please: do not cut wild flowers or kill animals. If you come to Olkhon in a car, please, use old roads, as it takes fragile soil of Olkhon long to recover.

Please, watch the campfires to prevent forest fires. Do not bury your garbage, save sacred places if you want to learn more about Olkhon, visit the local history museum in Khuzhir. There is a rich collection of artifacts that tell the story of many traditions, as well as the daily life of people of Olkhon.

 

Zagli Bay - the sunniest place in the Irkutsk region. The number of sunny days per year is more than at the coast of the Black Sea.


Kobylia Golova Cape (Horse Head, Khorin Irgi) - resembles a horse, drinking water from the lake. This is the first cape you see when you cross the channel by ferry. Legends say that warriors of Ghengis-Khan stayed here. Sarma, the most ferocious wind on Baikal blows here, and the name comes from the river and valiey that lay across the Maloye More.
Khaday Mountain - the highest pass between the ferry dock and Khuzhir. Shamanists pray here and give offerings to the spirits.
Khargoy Cape - attracts tourists with its simple beauty. Here one finds remains of an ancient Kurykan's wall. (Kurykan is the name of nation that lived here). Scientists still argue if this wall served as a sacred place or a hiding place.

Lake (bay) Khankhoy
(Elgai, Yalga) - the most popular tourist location for those who want to stay in tents. During the summer, the water gets pleasantly warm and people are able to go swimming and fishing. It is isolated from Baikal (by a thin, natural sand bar). There is no wood available for campfires in this area.

Burkhan Cape (Shaman Rock) - known as one of the palaces of Heaven's gods, tendril, and one of Asia's most sacred places. This is the most famous of Olkhon's capes. Here, many testimonies of ancient people's lives were found. The strongest of heavenly tangries (gods) chose Shaman Rock to be his home, and people were not allowed to go there. Many years ago people used to cover hooves of their horses so as not to disturb the great spirit and master of the rock. Now people are not supposed to think negatively or behave badly here.


Saraysky Bay Beach - goes for 3 km from Burkhan Cape to Kharantsy village. It is a place where in summer one can relax on hot sand and listen to the music of the waves and contemplate the great panorama of the mountains across the Maloye More.
Sandy Beach of Ulan-Khushin Bay - and its surroundings greet you with blossoming thyme and larch trees, and appears as if it comes from a faire tale it is said that it keeps it's own spirits and secrets.
Peschanka Bay - another unique place with sand dunes that move as the time passes. There are heaps of flowers on each of the dunes and many trees with open roots. Recently here were the demolished buildings of the Maloye More fishery, where prisoners worked shortly after the 2nd World War. The only places that keep memories of that time are the peer and fragments of the buildings. The old, abandoned cemetery in the nearby forest is difficult to find.
Sagan-Khushun, White Cape, or Three Brothers - is made of light marbles which are covered with red lichen. The beauty of this place was described by the famous Russia writer Valentin Rasputin: "I would choose this place as a grave for Ghengis-Khan. And I would bring here people with different sins to show them what they are fighting against; I wish poor souls found here relief, ill people - health, and people with big egos - humility."


Khoboy - the most northern care of Olkhon, when looked at from the water, it resembles a woman's profile. You can hear multi-voiced echoes reflected by a great boulder and meet rare plants. From the cape you can overlook the great panoramic view of Maloye and Bolshoye More, and it the weather is good - Ushkanii Islands and Svyatoy Nos (Eastern Shore of the lake). Someone once said that Khoboy seems to be the end of the Earth - as it is surrounded by water. "Khoboy" means "tusk". If you are lucky, you can see seats that come to sun bathe on the rocks below. It is one of the sacred places on Baikal.


Uzury - is a valley that brings you to the Bolshoye More, where there is a great panoramic view of Baikal. It is the only valley with easy access to the water in the north of the island. Here is a little settlement with a few research from The Russian Academy of Science including the Institute of the Earth's Crust.


Shara-Nury Lake - the so-called "salted lake". Mud from the lake is believed to heat different illnesses, including arthritis in summer it is pleasantly warm and is good for swimming.


Tashkiney (Teshkine) Valley - is a great valley with a creek flowing into Baikal it is bordered by huge rocks and is rich with life. Marry wild currents, flowers and various plants are found here.
Idebe (Yagida) Valley - a valley with a great natural world, where flowers change quickly all summer, coloring it blue, pink and lilac. August brings many mushrooms here. A rock called "Warrior Shushke-Bukha" stands in the forest nearby.
Zhima - is the highest mountains on Olkhon. It is a sacred place where, as legends say, lived the Master of Olchon. Here, Fragments of Bhuddist hut called "mankhos" are found. On the western side, relicts of spruce trees grow that were found by Nikolai Reviakin, a teacher from the local school, in 1963. Traditionaly, women were not allowed to go up the mountain.
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