Hiking map
Hiking map Markovo Plateau

Climbing the Markovo Plateau

2-days trip with a difference in altitude of 1400 m

Swyatoi Nos
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photo: Thomas Heidbüchel

For the challenging hike up to the Markovo Plateau and its highest peak you should schedule 2 days at least. The first day you will climb the plateau up to a height of about 1600 m. The second stage takes you from the plateau to the peak and back down to the lake. The steep ascent from the shores of Lake Baikal up to 1877 m above sea level asks for a good condition and will reward mountaineers with a great view over the whole of the peninsula, Barguzin and Tshivyrkuy Bay (Barguzinskiy, Tshivyrkuysky Zaliv), and the close-by Ushkani Islands, where the world's one and only freshwater seal population can be found. Should you be lucky to have a good view, you can even see the western shore of Lake Baikal and Olkhon Island as well as deep into the northern forests of Lake Baikal. The difficult accessibility and the therefore intact nature allow visitors to watch diverse species of birds and squirrels as well as numerous tracks of one of the 80 bears who live on the peninsula.

1st Stage from Glinka up the Plateau (12 km, 6 h)

On the way to the Makarova cape
On the way to the Makarova cape
photo: Lars Wagenknecht

(approx. 13 km, 1100 m difference in altitude, 8 h hike)

Glinka – Cape Makarova – End of Path – Plateau

BThe tour starts at the fork in the road to Kurbulik and the driveway to Glinka where generally you will be dropped off by public transport. Now it is about another 15 minutes to Glinka, a former complex of small lodges and a hotel, now burnt down and directly at the shore of the lake. The buildings remained are now used by fishermen. Before entering Glinka, you will pass a trail to the right which is the end of the tour. Behind Glinka starts a small path leading for two hours through mixed birch forests and constantly running along the shore. It also passes some nice potential camp spots. Finally you will reach Cape Makarova. After crossing a stream, but still before reaching the fishermen's camp at the headland, the path turns right into the forest.

Climbing Pik Markovo
Climbing Pik Markovo
photo: Thomas Heidbüchel

The trail marked with red tags now leads slowly uphill along the stream. It leads through mixed forest, with lots of tall pine trees, crosses an old streambed and then steeply leads uphill. Along the left slope it leads through the taiga, the stream still within the range of vision. About half an hour later the trail changes to the other side of the stream. This would be a good opportunity to fill up the stores of water for the ascent and the following day. The trail now leads through a valley, later through forests and then across meadows with high grass and ferns. When you reach a parting of the ways, keep on going uphill and you will soon meet the right trail. From now on the marking is not very good anymore. Across the boulder of the streambed it keeps on leading uphill. Stone cairns (little stone pyramids) are now the only signs which show that you’re still on the right way. About one hour after you crossed the stream the most exhausting part begins. The trail now leads uphill very steep. Try to follow the trail as long as possible even though you will probably have more and more difficulties to find it. It might be helpful to keep left to the crippled pines. But even when the trail disappears, there is no reason to worry for the direction is clear – straigth up the mountain. This part of the trail takes you up 600 m of altitude difference within only one and half of a kilometer. On the last 100 m of altitude difference you should try to reach the right ridge, for the trail keeps on getting even steeper. The last fields of boulder should be crossed with great caution. It is essential to be sure-footed so as to avoid the risk of falling rocks.

over the clouds
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photo: Peer Priewich

After the exhausting and adventurous ascent of 5 to 6 hours, hikers will be rewarded with a terrific view over both sides of the shores of Lake Baikal and the Ushkani Islands. Now it doesn’t take long to reach the plateau to the right. There you will find various opportunities for pitching your tent which you will need to protect against the wind. Thanks to the fast-growing crippled pines you will also find some firewood. Mind that in summer you will hardly find any water there.

2nd Stage: From the Plateau to the Peak and back to Glinka (approx. 13 km/7 hours)

Plateau on the way on the top
photo: Steffi Stolper

Plateau – Peak – Lower Summit – Glinka
On the plateau the way is marked by stone cairns. Just follow the eastern ridge of the plateau. Along the whole trail, you will enjoy panoramic views over the peninsula, Lake Baikal, and the Barguzin Mountains at the eastern shore. For three hours the trail leads along the ridge, passes several small mountains and hollows up to the first peak in a height of 1841 m. A small path is said to lead to a spring but it might be better to inform about its state before. For ambitious hikers, the nearby peak of the peninsula with a height of 1877 m offers another destination.

on the way back
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photo: Lars Wagenknecht

The descent, however, starts from the first peak and follows the ridge towards the lake. In the beginning the trail is not too steep and readily identifiable. Until you reach the Lower summit (1334 m) you will have a great view over the Barguzin Bay due to the sparse vegetation. At the last part, the trail is difficult to find. In case you need another night to stay in the mountains, you can pitch your tent on the Lower summit, though the place is sufficient for only 2 or 3 and might be occupied already. After you have passed the cross on the summit of the mountain, the trail will lead back into a forest. The trail is quite steep here but visible so that it takes some 1 ½ hours more descending the mountain. The last 45 minutes are a pleasant walk downhill. When you finally reach the shores of Lake Baikal you performed a descent of 1400 m of altitude difference and you will appreciate a refreshing bath in the lake (if it is no sandfly season at least…). The beautiful sandy beach of the headland, which connects Svyatoy Nos with the land, invites for swimming and relaxing.

Uschkani Islands
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photo Thomas Heidbüchel

Another option would be a one-day trip to the plateau. But you should consider that this would be a long day of about 8 hours. The trip would start at the end of the tour described before and follows the trail of the second route in opposite direction up to the peak. The exhausting ascent follows a descent back to the lake on the same steep trail.

If you want to walk the 2-days trip the other way round, you should know that the place on the plateau where the trail starts is only hard to find. You will need to rely on your experience and "your tummy" to find a good way downwards.


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23 Apr 2006

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