One of my favorite trips so far while I’ve been abroad in Russia has been my weekend stay in Sakhyurta.
Sakhyurta is a small village located directly on the shore of Lake Baikal, walking distance from the southernmost point of Olkhon Island. Because we went in the middle of winter we could walk to Olkhon Island in about 10 minutes directly across the frozen lake. This village is best visited for three days. Because the trip there and back is so long, less than two nights would not allow enough time to get in some serious hiking.
The trip to Sakhurtya took about 6 hours and was 800 rubles (14$) each way, however in the summer the price is only 500 rubles because the road is not as difficult to navigate. The best way to travel is to book a marshrutka in advance by either calling or going to the central market and talking to the cashier, which is a booth labeled (Касса). The cashier can offer available dates and times.
As far as accommodation goes, there is a huge range of prices and just depends on your budget. For a room that can house 4 people prices vary from 20$-50$. We decided to go on the weekend of the Russian holiday Maslenitsa, which also happened to match up to Chinese New Year, which mean it was a pretty busy travel season for the area. Many hotels were booked in the larger village of Khuzhir, but because we went as a group, we could opt for a pricier option which included breakfast and was less than one minute from the shore, and we split it evenly among us.
We found a small bed and breakfast in nearby Sakhyurta which ended up being the best mishap of all time! Upon arrival there were no tourists and we had the whole place to ourselves. We spent the day walking around the village and exploring the breathtaking and unique ice. There are also many small islands around that can be climbed in under 30 minutes. I highly recommend climbing up and watching the sunset or sunrise.
The ice in the southernmost point changes color depending on the time of day and is patterned as a result of methane and oxygen gas releases. After walking several hours across the lake as the only people on the ice for miles, we sat in silence and could hear the deep rumbling of ice cracks, as the ice is always shifting. The weather was cold but bearable with a warm clothes and good waterproof boots.
On the second day of our trip we celebrated Maslenitsa with the locals which included blini, dancing, and games. The one important thing to note is the lack of restaurants. In the winter there is only a small store in the center of the village so make sure your accommodations include food or a kitchen. While the village itself doesn’t offer many attractions, the remoteness and natural wilderness is enough to make Sakhyurta worth a visit.
Trip to Sakhyurta (Сахюрта)
3 Day Trip