Discover this lesser-known inhabited island in Russia’s Lake Baikal

Sep 20, 2017

It is the largest of 27 islands – most of which are uninhabited – in the 3.15 million ha, UNESCO-listed Lake Baikal in south-eastern Siberia. About 70km long and 15km wide, Olkhon is home to around 1,500 residents.

The island’s population is spread across several settlements and five villages, namely Yalga, Malomorets, Khuzhir, Kharantsi and Ulan-Khushin. Most of them live around Khuzhir, the island’s administrative centre on the north-western coast near Cape Burkhan. During Soviet rule, Khuzhir was a fishing community, which produced canned seafood for a living. Now, the area counts tourism as one of its main sources of income, but most of its residents are still fishermen and cattle farmers.

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Khuzhir offers a range of accommodation, from homestays to small hotels. Shops and cafes are also located near its main square. Learn about the indigenous people’s way of life at the local museum, which houses more than 3,000 pieces of archaeological treasures, such as a Genghis Khan warrior’s chest badge, and ritual items belonging to a shaman. For nature enthusiasts, there’s information on Lake Baikal’s flora and fauna too.