The best place to stay on a tour to Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal!


The climate of East Siberia is acutely continental, but the enormous mass of water in Baikal and its mountainous surroundings create an unusual microclimate. Baikal acts like a large thermo-stabilizer - in winter it's warmer at Baikal, and in summer cooler, for example, than in Irkutsk, some 70 km away from the lake. The difference in temperature is usually around 10 degrees. The forests covering almost the entire coast of Baikal make a considerable contribution to this effect.

Baikal's influence is not limited to temperature regulation. Because of the fact that there is very insignificant evaporation from the cold surface waters, clouds cannot form above the lake. Also, the air masses bringing clouds from the land, become warmer when tumbling over the coastal mountains and disperse. As a result, the sky over the lake is more often than not clear. This is confirmed by statistics: in the Olkhon area, there are some 2277 hours of sunshine a year (for comparison, the coast near Riga has 1839, and Abastumani in the Caucasus - 1994). Of course, one shouldn't imagine that the sun is always shining over the lake, if you are not lucky, you can find yourself in one, and even two weeks of dreadfully rainy weather even in the sunniest place at Baikal - Olkhon, but that is very rare.

The average annual temperature of the water at the surface of the lake is +4°C. Near the shore in summer it can reach +16°-17°C, and in the shallows of inlets +22°-23°C.

Wind and waves 

There is almost always some wind at Baikal. More than thirty names of winds are known. But this doesn't in the least mean that there are that number of different winds, only that many of them have more than one name. The peculiarity of Baikal's winds is that they almost all, almost always blow along the shoreline, and there aren't as many havens from them as one would like.

The prevailing winds are the north-westerly, often called 'mountain' winds, north-easterly (Barguzine and Verkhovik - the Angara) south-westerly (Kultuk), and south-easterly (Shelonnik). The maximum wind speed recorded at Baikal was 40 metres a second. In literature it is possible to find even higher values, up to 60 m/sec, but there are no reliable witnesses to this.

Where is wind, there are waves, of course. I should add though, that the opposite is not true - there can be waves even without any wind. Waves can reach 4 metres at Baikal. Sometimes it is said they can reach 5 or even 6 metres, but that is more likely an approximate estimate 'by eye', usually erring on the side of exaggeration. The height of 4 metres has been measured instrumentally in the open sea. Choppiness is more often in autumn and spring. It is rare in summer, when it is often calm.


As in any sea, in Baikal there are currents. These are brought about by a number of factors: fluctuations in atmospheric pressure, winds, the currents of inflowing rivers, and the so-called Coriolis force.
The speed of the current is only a few centimetres a second, seldom rising to more than 10 cm/sec. This depends on a number of factors and decreases with distance from the shore and with depth.

The surface current near the western shores of Baikal is almost always moving from north to south, while on the eastern coast it flows from south to north. In other words, in general, Baikal's coastal current moves anticlockwise. There is also a current along the coast of the island of Olkhon. With the exception of the straits - Olkhonskiye Vorota (tr. the Olkhon Gates) and close to the island itself, it moves in a clockwise direction. In the Olkhonskiye Vorota straits and near the western shores of the Maloye Morye the current is so strong that in calm weather the drift of a vessel is clearly noticeable.

The information from

Hotel Nabaimar Homestead

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