Season safari closed. Happy New Year!
September-October in the Baikal area is the time of Indian summer (in Russia we call it Golden Autumn). Our exclusive safari programme Golden Autumn is comprised of two routes - Golden Autumn. The South. and Golden Autumn. The North. The former takes place in the beginning-middle of September in central and southern areas of Lake Baikal. The latter begins on the last week of September and takes us to the central and northern Baikal.
Like any other of our exclusive safaris, these programmes include not just diving and nature watching from aboard a comfortable ship, but diverse and extensive shore hiking activities.
The first safari of a succession of Golden Autumn trips started on September, 12 MV MYTH. This diving safari was special, because it was 100% tech diving. Not a big, but a friendly group of tech divers: some of them took their Advanced Nitrox and Decompression Procedures courses, others just dived - deep and interesting. The group leader was Gennady Misan, Advanced Trimix Instructor Trainer IANTD, TDI & CMAS, Diving center BaikalTek.
On the day the Myth safari finished, another safari started on the MV VALERY. A six-day trip to dive sites of Circum Baikal railway, Olkhon, the Ushkan Islands. The safari team - a group of our old friends from Estonia. We had a very productive diving time with them in 2009, when we gave Advanced Trimix Diver and Trimix Gaz Blender courses for a group of 7 people in Tallinn in the Baltic Sea. Here came the time for another meeting, but this year it was in Lake Baikal, on a diving safari.
The visibility was about 10-15 meters everywhere, the water temperature +12С. A real treat was a meeting with nerpa underwater. In the Ushkan Islands area the visibility was different - a thermocline at the depth of 20 meters (+5) - magnificent panoramas of the canyons and tunnels; walls, going down to the depth of 70-90 m. So, impressed by the grand landscapes, we went up to the warm layer. On the thermocline boarder (20-25 m) we saw something working peacefully on the wall, we could see just the fins sticking up. As we approached the creature with 7-10 meters between us, the nerpa noticed us and, certainly, disappeared. In general, we were lucky with meeting nerpas during this safari. All days were windy, sunny, but the lake was rough. According to the weather forecast, only one day was to be sunny and windless for a couple of hours. Keep it in mind, that to get to the Ushkan Islands we had to make a many-hours ship trip from Olkhon and at the same time we had to catch the good weather period - all this was quite unpredictable. However, the Baikal was kind to us, so, when we arrived to the sealery by 8 o’clock, we saw there about 10 nerpas sunbathing.
The next safari on VALERY was 10 days long. We met a group of divers from Germany, Switzerland, China and Russia to take them not only to the Ushkan Islands, but also to Sviatoy Nos (Holy Nose) and Brown Bears Shore. “The Baikal is unpredictable” - this was the safari motto, to which we found proof several times a day. Everything that we planned: dive sites, night trips, routes - everything had to be changed. The Baikal showed its character - showed us something He wanted to show. And this was great! We expected one thing, but something other , more fabulous, revealed itself to us. The water was still warm, but the visibility dropped to 10 metres. Even at the depths of 50-60 metres there was no thermocline. Heavy storms did not allow us to drop an anchor, so we had to make many drift dives. During one of our drift dives we explored dive site Labyrinth, which we discovered in June. A grand canyon runs there to 80 metres, the site fascinates everybody, so, despite the difficult dive conditions - wind 30 m/sec, snow, almost below zero air temperature, high waves - we decided to make 2 dives there. Some group members said, that Labyrinth alone could make the whole safari programme.
When the above mentioned safari started on VALERY, our second safari boat MYTH also went on a trip. Both safaris started on September, 27 and on both boats were the groups, who visit Lake Baikal not for the first time. The MYTH group was represented by Olga Kamenskaya and Dmitriy Melamed - their photo and video activities on making underwater (and not only that) Lake Baikal chronicles are widely known. Our friend Michelle Roggo- underwater photographer from Switzerland who comes to lake Baikal for the 4th time and who is making plans to visit it in the future. Our friends, BaikalTek divers Tatiana and Alexey Geryatovich, they took part in many of our programmes and are not going to stop.
Our friends from Novosibirsk, dive club "BUDDY", leaded by our friend Oleg Bocharnikov, after a comparatively long pause visited lake Baikal again and we went together on a final safari of the Golden Autumn 2016 series. The safari started on October, 7 on our dive boat VALERY. On the 8 days long safari our final point was Cape Mouzhinay. During those days we covered 800 km of the Baikal, making planned dive stops. We visited dive areas of Bolshiye Koty, East Olkhon, Brown Bears Shore. We also made tracking events in the area of Uzoury Bay (Olkhon Island) and Cape Mouzhinay (Brown Bears Shore), dived 2-3 times a day at different great dive sites, enjoyed the sauna aboard the ship, made barbeque, treated ourselves to lake Baikal fish.
Safari November Fairy Tale - 2016 - this was our debut trip. We have never made such safaris before. The debut proved to be a success, so these safaris are sure to become a part of BaikalTek safari and routes portfolio. The safari was similar to a Polar safari. Clear transparent water, the air temperature was sometimes below zero. November Fairy Tale pioneers are dive clubs "Beliy Tyulen" (White Seal) from St. Petersburg and a group headed by Yaroslaw Bekier from Poland. Our guests from St. Pete’s went on a 4 day trip, the Polish group followed them with a 5 day safari.
Apart from the November Fairy Tale route our Polish friends opted for a tech safari, so it proved to be quite an adventure. Our safari boat VALERY has a large number of twin tanks, stages, transport air and helium tanks (the latter are not intended for diving, but for making gas mixtures). The divers went up to 120 meters deep (Alexander Anashkin) in different dive sites of Circum Baikal Railway and Bolshiye Koty. They made great dives, their emotions were so high, as the Baikal underwater landscapes can make anyone hold their breath in admiration. It was decided to go on this safari again next year. Said and will be done!
In December we went on a Poliarnoye (Polar) safari. 5 days of diving in transparent and cold waters of the Baikal (water temperature - 3-4 C). A great group. Safari boat Valeriya. Yet again the safari was technical. Looks like the Tek (Tech) part in the name of our club plays its role. The most important is that we ourselves like it best this way! Tatiana Geryatovich and Tatiana Oparina made a 60 m deep dive in dive site Baranchiki; Evgeny Masternak and Gennady Misan made dives to 90 m and 115 m in dive sites Skripper 3 and Baranchiki; Tatiana Oparina made a dive to 150 meters in dive site Varnachka; and Gennady Misan went 150 meters down in dive site Srednaya. These were the the usual days during Lake Baikal Poliarnoye Technical Safari.
Few photos with these safari
The season of lake Baikal dive safaris in 2016 is successfully finished. Waiting for you in the coming year for ice and open water diving.
Happy Coming 2017!
Gennady Misan set a personal record having reached the depth of 160 metres (his previous record depth was 155 metres). Tatiana Oparina also beat her previous record of 156 metres, which was, moreover, Lake Baikal record deep dive and, possibly, world record of diving deep in very cold water. Thus, her new dive to 170 metres, which Tatiana made, is a new Lake Baikal record and, possibly, a new world record of diving deep in very cold water.
Apart from the private safaris on "Myth" there surely were safaris for big groups of divers. We welcomed divers from Russia, Poland and China. For the first time in our career we hosted a Chinese group on a diving safari and it was new experience for us, which will hopefully have its continuation, because the Chinese divers liked lake Baikal diving safari. The Poles are traditional guests at our lake Baikal safaris, as they come in different groups almost every year.
On June 21-25, 2017 Listvyanka settlement (Irkutsk region, Lake Baikal) hosted Open Championship of Underwater Photography Lake Baikal Cup. Suchlike competitions were last held in the Baikal in 1980th (1985, 1987 and 1989), so the event served as a sort of revival of a forgotten tradition.