Olchon - Where to go
Olkhon offers numerous beautiful bays, mystical places, remote capes and rare plants. The south and the north of Olkhon Island is dominated by the Taggeran Prairie. Along the steep coast in the east, you will mainly find spruce and larch forests.
It is hard to say which places you must have seen and which are less impressive. It depends on your own preferences. On Olkhon Island you can do almost everything - either you enjoy the sun and go swimming as in Florida, or you go hiking from one cape to the other and climb up to the 1200m-high Mountain Zhima.
The bay is known as the most sunny place in the region. In parts, the sun shines over 2000 hours a year. Accordingly, the place is very popular during the summer months.
Cape Kobylia Golowa
Because of its form which reminds of a horse that is drinking water from the Baikal, the cape is sometimes also called "Horse Cape" or "Khorin Irgi". if you take the ferry from Sachurta to Olkhon in the summer, you will directliy pass this place.
"Kobylia Golowa" comes from a little river at the facing shore of "Maloi Morie".
In a legend it is told that Tchingis Khan's soldiers stayed at the cape. However, the legend says that the most dangerous wind in the Baikal region - called "Sarma" - terrozises the region once a year.
The mountains are the highest point between the ferry landing and the regional capital Chuzir. This point, where the Buryats resp. Shamans get their wisdom from, is a holy place for them.
This place is surely one of the most beauiful places of Olkhon. Very impressive is the treeless prairie and the view to the mainland and to the small island Ogoy. The Kurykans lived here in former times. Partly you will even find old ramparts of the Kurykans. It remains unclear until today, whether they had a defensive or a religious purpose.
The bay is surrounded by two capes - Elgai and Chungai - and is separated from Lake Baikal with a natural sandbank. Especially in summer, the bay is definitely the most popular camping space of the whole of Olkhon. Because of its special location between the two capes, the bay warms up to 20°C in summer. However, due to it being in the middle of the prairie, you will not find any wood here.
Schamans- or Burcha Rock
This is probably the most famous and most visited natural monument of the island. The rock is near Chuzir and is said to be one of the holiest places of Asia. The Burjiats believe that the rock is the residence of the biggest and most important god, Tengrii. Because of this, it is strongly forbidden to climb the rock. In former times even the horses' hooves were upholstered so that they could not disturb the god's peace.
Of course things have changed today and the rules are not that strict anymore. Nevertheless, it is advised that you do not behave in a bad way or think something bad. Unfortunately, not all visitors respect the holy place - as numerous thrown away beer- and wodkabottles in the immediate vicinity show.
Situated between the Schamans Rock and the village Harantzi, this sand beach is a wonderful place to go swimming and to sunbathe. When the weather is clear you will have a wonderful view from the beach to the mountains on the other shore of Maloe Morie.
Do not mix it up with more famous sandbay in the north of Bloshoy Kotui - although this bay is more silent and not less attractive. The bay is not very big. However, the dunes here are also moving and make some trees look like growing on stilts.
Shortly after World War II, a penal institution was built here. The prisoners worked in a small fish factory, from which only parts of some cottages survived. A little cemetery is located in the forest but in fact, it is not that spectacular.
Near the sandbay was a little settlement that is unfortunately also very dilapidated. But if you have some time, visit the fisherman who is still living there. Sometimes he even invites you to go fishing with him.
In summer, numerous herbs (i.g. wild thyme) and flowers are growing. In winter you sometimes see the so-called "Geologsbanya" - sauna. For this some stones are warmed up. A little wooden scaffhold, covered with a plastic tarpaulin is built over the stones. For lots of fisherman in the Baikal region, that is the only possibility to wash themselves during the winter months.
Cape Sagan Khuschun
Also called "White Cape" or "Three Brothers". The cape consists of three single rock formations and of marble - that is were the names come from. Especially in winter, the cape offers a wonderful view and many people had already thought it is the northern point of Olkhon. Valentin Rasputin was so impressed by this place that he devoted some thoughts to it: "I would choose this place to be the grave of Tshingis Khan. I believe that poor souls will find a home here, suffering people will find health, and people with too much self-confidence - humility."
The cape is the northest point of Olkhon Island an looks like a "tusk". However, it is better known for its echo effects, caused by a huge stoned slab. Seen from the water, the relief of the cape looks like a profile of a woman. Good weather assumed, you have a fantastic view over the mountain ranges on the other shore of Maloe Morie as well as over Svetui Nos and Uskani Islands.
If you are lucky you will even see the rare Baikal seals. In summer, lots of rare plants grow at this impressive place.
Schara Nuri Lake
This is the only lake on the island and is pleasantly warm in summer, which makes it a very popular place for swimming. The name stands for "salt lake". The lake's mud is supposed to be healing.
The valley lies at the Eastern shore of the island between steep coasts. The little river is surrounded by big rocks and offers a perfect living space for numerous rare plants and animals.
With 1274m in altitude, Mount Shima is definitely the highest mountain of the island and one of the holiest places, too. One legend says that Olkhon's imperor lives here. Even today, it is forbidden or at least very undesirable that women climb the summit. The way up to the summit, however, is not that spectacular, because the mountain is covered in wood and the view thus is blocked by trees. But you can find some remnants of old Buddhist's houses (Mankhos).