Olkon Island North, Lake Baikal, Russia

After a being slammed with such spectacular views on our first day, we booked ourselves into a mini-van tour which would take us around the northern end of Olkhon Island to see some of the treasures Lake Baikal had to offer.

We were cramped into another soviet mini-van (we had the same mini-van in Mongolia) with a group of young German & Austrian couples. We got talking and exchanged travel tips, recommendations and horror stories. They laughed a hearty germanic laugh at our pathetic 3 month adventure since most of them were going to be on the road for at least a year – our trip seemed like a weekend away…

We were treated to an amazing bouncy castle experience in the backseat of the mini-van (this was a bonus feature not included in the price). We were clinging onto to anything bolted to the van as cameras, water bottles and germans swirled around us in a maelstrom of carnage. The most chilling part was watching the driver casually chatting away, one hand on the wheel, one hand explaining something in russian, both eyes no-where near the road.

The mini-van destruction derby would come to a screeching, grinding halt at the most serene and amazing spots along the island as we creeped up the coastline. Words can’t describe it and pictures don’t do it justice but this is all we can really offer so we would encourage anyone to go there and experience it for yourself…

Once we reached the northern tip of the island, where the ‘Little Baikal’ meets the ‘Big Baikal’, the couples split into romantic pairs and strolled along the cliff edges. The location held powerful spiritual powers in the ancient world and was punctuated with flag poles and flag trees, similar to what we saw in Tibet.

As everyone sauntered along the path, pondering the sublimity of existence in time and space, we felt nature calling to us… urgently. We slowed down and started to trail to the back of the group until everyone had faded into the forest ahead of us and ran behind the nearest tree where we proceeded to desecrate the sacred site, leaving a little something from New Zealand for the locals to remember us by. Feeling much more relieved, we joined the rest of the group at the van for a hearty bowl of fish soup…

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