Diving center "BaikalTek" news. August - December 2019
The summer is over and the autumn is coming to an end. It was a great summer with some rains and lots of hot sunny days, some fogs and excellent underwater visibility in the Baikal. In the final month of the summer, as usual, we have a lot of news.
Our traditional early August safari we made for Irkutsk divers’ family had two features this year. Firstly, to commemorate the birthday of one of us we put some bottles of wine in a secret nook in one of the Baikal grottoes. The wine itself is very good and it will become even better in a year. Exactly in a year we are going to pick it up from the depth of 40 meters and drink it on Alexey’s next birthday..
Secondly, the safari took place as a part of tech diving week and therefore there were a lot of tech dives. August is a great time for deep dives - warm water decompression conditions and excellent visibility under a thermocline. The thermocline was not deep: 10, sometimes 20 meters.
The technical component was our major in one more diving safari in August this year. Tatyana Geryatovich set her personal record for deep diving in Lake Baikal and now belongs to the small group of people who were at the depth of 110 meters and deeper. Just 7 of us – the brave and tech.
We are often asked about our reasons to go deep and stay there for a long time.
The answer is plain: it is very beautiful DOWN THERE!
For example, here are some glimpses of our tech diving safaris in August.
1. 70 meters/20 minutes. Dive site: Chemodan (Suitcase). Descending along a picturesque mountain range. To the right and to the left there are huge boulders (they really look like mini-mountains) – about 15-20 meters high. The canyon is blocked by a monster stone (not less than 100-150 m3 (cubic meters)) – the Suitcase (Chemodan). We made our way along the lower part of the Suitcase, passed through the canyon-crack between the Suitcase and one unnamed mountain. Ascending along the stone terraces, which we call rice fields thanks to their visual resemblance to those. The height of each of the three terraces is about 10 meters.
2. 90 meters / 10 min. Dive site Cherno-Beliy (Black and White). As Tatyana Geryatovich said, “it’s as if we visited the gallery of modern art”. Scattered chaotically at depths of 70-105 meters, there can be seen striped cubic stones. The size of the stone cubes varies from 5 to 15 m. We move among them, as if in a labyrinth. Their bizarre shapes surround us. Some resemble huge stone faces, others look like fragments of some giant constructions. We managed to see only about 30 percent of the site. Planned bottom time is over. And we just got to the sector of "huge flat platforms."
3. 110 meters / 5 min. Dive site Varnachka. A wall. Yes, just a wall. We didn’t go anywhere. Simply stopped at the depth and admired the majestic wall, going down and up. To the left and to the right. It does take time to realize and feel it.
Words fail me to describe it all. One has to see it with his/her own eyes, because making photos and videos at a depth is quite challenging and does not really convey all the grand feelings one gets when actually seeing the deep landscapes.
The final diving safari in August was for our Polish friends. We are pleased to host divers from Poland - especially because this year is the 30th anniversary of the first visit of Polish divers for Lake Baikal dive safari. Back in 1989, 12 Poles and 3 young Russian instructors (including Gennady Misan) conducted a safari on a boat of the Yaroslavets project (there was enough room for 8 divers). We slept in hanging hammocks, took turns to cook our food. There was almost no electricity on the ship, hot water was not available at all.
That’s what our safaris used to be. Things have changed a lot since those times, these days excellent comfortable safari boats of the BaikalTek dive center “Valeria” and “MIF” with comfortable accommodation, excellent food, and a great diving programme are at the disposal of divers from all over the world. Safari dates can be viewed on our website in the Schedule section. Our plans for the year 2020 are already being made. Hurry up to join our season 2020 diving programs.
So, as we have said, the autumn is coming to an end. As always, our Golden Autumn Lake Baikal diving safaris were a success. We have to face the truth – it really is a very beautiful period of time! In September and October the water is warm (Lake Baikal water is not always cold!), the air temperature is still comfortable, the yellow-red beauty of Siberian nature getting ready for the winter, berries and nuts in the taiga; seals on the stones exposing their tummies to the autumn sunrays. To put it in a nutshell, the time is deservedly popular and a good option for those who do not have the time to come to the summer Baikal diving safaris.
These safaris were attended by teams of divers from Germany, Austria, a group from Estonia and there was also a safari for Irkutsk divers – members of BaikalTek.
For those who did not have a chance to get into the Golden Autumn programs, the possibilities for diving safaris in 2019 are still available. The season continues in November with a wonderful diving safari “November Fairy Tale” program. In November the Baikal winds (which are typical of the area from August till October) subside – and this is one of the main features of November safaris. Therefore, despite the fact that in November the air temperature can be relatively low (from +10 to -10 Celsius), one does not really feel it, especially since the water is still quite warm - +6 - +9 Celsius. When the sun is shining, it’s quite warm and you can take a nap in the sun during the time interval between the dives. In November the Baikal water becomes clear very fast and the visibility is usually very good and stable as compared to it being variable during the “Barkhatnaya Osen” (Velvet Autumn) period (in October)..
The “November Fairy Tale” programs are not very popular, because divers believe (probably basing their judgement on personal experience or generally accepted notions about autumn time) that in November the Baikal is gloomy, there are no colors and it's cold and nasty. Those who think so are certainly wrong, as all seasons in the Baikal are nice and beautiful in their own way. The few groups who went on our November safaris were satisfied with excellent comfortable diving, beautiful nature, interesting walks along the picturesque Baikal shores.
This year we again went on only one "November Fairy Tale Safari", and the divers were very pleased with the great time and excellent diving. So when planning your future dives in Lake Baikal, consider November too. In November there are many days off (in Russia), few tourists, flights cost less and actually the diving safari price is also lower.
When winter comes, we will start our "Polar Safari" dive programs. This program is much more popular than "November Fairy Tale". The news about the Baikal being incredibly transparent at this time of the year is spread around the world, so, if some time ago we used to welcome only “crazy” (meaning “real connoisseurs of it”) Russian divers, these days our foreign guests have more information about December safari programs and plan their visit to us in advance.
The "Polar Safari", of course, has more challenges for divers, as the air temperature on the surface is well below 0 Celsius and sometimes it might drop down to -30 degrees Celsius! However, most of the time it stays within -5 - -15 degrees Celsius framework. After all, we are in the Southern Siberia! Yes, the Baikal has its influence on the environment: the water temperature is still +3 - +6 Celsius, and this is warmer than our program “Chasing the Ice” in May and even in our early summer programs in June. Keep it in mind, our safari boat Valeria has an “all-weather” status (i.e. it is equipped with everything necessary to travel in various weather conditions). It has warm cabins, a spacious warm saloon, which serves as a changing place for divers (as well as the heated halls). There is a special nook in the spacious engine room where the equipment can be hang up to dry. To crown it all, there is a sauna, where you can enjoy the heat provided you didn’t make a decompression dive..
Despite the difficulties of the Polar safari, German divers enjoyed their time. 6 days of diving in great, transparent, refreshing water of the Baikal. We made 2 dives a day. In the Olkhon area we made even 3 dives – one is a night dive.
Irkutsk divers from BaikalTek also took part in this safari as well as our friend from Moscow – a Russian underwater photographer Andrey Sidorov.
The big event of our safari season is the New Year’s Safari. We must say right away that this year it’s all booked, and that’s the way it has to be. It really is an event of a lifetime: to celebrate New Year’s holidays on a comfortable large ship, having landed on the wild Baikal shore. Decorate a real New Year’s tree right in the taiga and engage into dancing around it, go under the water in the old year and surface in the new one – having washed away all the worries of the past year. This safari takes 2-4 days and finishes our safari season. Book next year!
Dates and available spaces for next year are in the schedule on our web-site. We prefer organized groups, but there are places for individual divers, who can join organized groups or we might arrange a combined safari hosting such divers.
See you in the Baikal safari and have a great diving!
Do not be too critical about the photos, as the photographers are: Gennady Misan - not a photographer at all, but an Advanced Trimix Instructor Trainer TDI & IANTD, OWSD Instructor Trainer SDI, Instructor Trainer Full Cave Evaluator TDI, CMAS Three Stars Instructor and Tatyana Oparina - Trimix instructor IANTD, Course Director SDI.
Below are photos of our friends of photographers - Andrey Sidorov and Igor Starosvetskij. Photo from the Polar Diving Safari. We think these photos are great.
The BaikalTek instructors often meet the seals under the ice because they dive often. A ‘normal’ diver is rarely so lucky. Jean from Switzerland is one of the lucky guys. Though it was his first Olkhon Ice Safari at Lake Baikal, he saw a lot: huge ice shapes, moving ice mass, dancing planaria… and finally, a seal!
And I was really lucky. One teacher is good, two is even better. And two best teachers make it precious. Gennady Misan and Tatiana Oparina, thank you for your making all the long way and coming to share your knowledge, experience and wisdom! You did not only answer all our questions, but you also analyzed the situations, and you gave solution options and practical examples. Thank you for your high-grade professionalism, objective evaluation, thorough debriefing and promptly encouragement that was inspiring and empowering. Thanks for the interesting and useful communication. Living on the shore of Teletskoye Lake feels like living on another planet. When you came, it felt like the guests from a similar neighbor planet visited us, the same kind of people, and that was great! A return visit is ours!
In general, places and dates are in the schedule on our web-site. We prefer organized groups, but there are places for single divers, who can join organized groups or we might arrange a combined safari hosting such divers.
See you in the Baikal safari and have a great diving!