Peschanaya Bay Guide
Peschanaya (literally Sandy) Bay is located on the western shore of Lake Baikal 80 km (50 mi) to the north-east from Listvyanka passing Bolshiye Koty and Bolshoye Goloustnoye settlements. Peschanaya Bay rimmed by magnificent rocky capes called the Big and Small Belfries is one of the most picturesque places at Lake Baikal. It can be found on many postcards and picture albums devoted to the lake.
The whole area around Peschanaya Bay is known as “Siberian Rivera”. Separated by tall Primorskiy (Maritime) mountain range from the north it has unusually mild and warm microclimate. There are more sunshine hours throughout the year at Peschanaya Bay than in Sochi which is a famous Russia’s resort on the Black Sea coast. This makes Peschanaya Bay the only place in Eastern Siberia where average annual temperature is above freezing and particularly it is the warmest place on Lake Baikal. Since the bay is not isolated from the main waterbody of Baikal from the south its water still remains relatively cold during the summer. Though, perfect sand beaches of Peschanaya Bay as well as two smaller bays located in the immediate vicinity make this area an attractive leisure resort.
Another landmark of Peschanaya Bay is the unique pine and larch trees that grow along the sand beach in the northern part of the bay. Wind blows sandy soil away from underneath of them, so that the trees have very tall naked routes. It appears as if the trees are walking on stilts. The biggest pine tree used to have a trunk rising almost 2 meters (over 6 ft) above the ground. The trunk was supported by naked stilt roots that visually formed sort of a gate under the tree. This allowed a human to walk though it without touching the trunk or the roots. The tree did not survive till nowadays. The last pictures of it was taken in 1988. But you can still see a few other smaller pines of this kind.
There is no permanent road access to the bay throughout the year. In the summer Peschanaya Bay is accessible only by water transport including regular ferry service or via a hiking trail from Bolshoye Goloustnoye settlement located in 35 km (22 mi). Hiking trip to Peschanaya Bay requires at least one overnight in tents on the way. In the winter ice road is made on the lake’s surface from Bolshoye Goloustnoye. Thus, it is rather secluded area at Baikal with a limited number of visitors.
Accommodation and Transfers
Baikal Dunes Lodge is the only quality accommodation in Peschanaya Bay area. The lodge is named after an ideal sand beach of crescent shaped Peschanaya Bay where the lodge is nestled. It operates from mid-June till mid-September. A number of small log houses accommodate up to 70 people in comfortable guestrooms with all private amenities including shower cabins and flushing toilets. Some rooms have terraces facing Lake Baikal. Since this is the only modern and comfortable lodging in the whole area it charges rather expensive rates. Room rate is US$ 165 / 220 for SNGL / DBL standard room (no view) and US$ 220 / 260 for SNGL/DBL superior room with lake view. The price includes meals on full board basis and walking excursions to the surroundings - mostly to the viewpoints on hilltops above the bay led by Russian speaking guide. Read more
Transfer from Irkutsk to Baikal Dunes is organized by the lodge. Tourist coach covers 120 km (75 mi) of the way from Irkutsk to Bolshoye Goloustnoye settlement. The road includes 90-km (56-mi) unpaved segment surfaced with gravel. Then guests continue further on board of a passenger boat to Peshchanaya Bay for another 2 hours. Transfer cost is 120 USD per person for the round way trip.
Another property called “Peschanaya Bay” lodge is located nearby. It was the first accommodation which was built here back in 1960s. Although, the lodge was remodeled many times since then, it still provides very basic accommodation in summer huts that can only serve as a shelter from wind and rain. Facilities include outside sink and pit toilets. While this may seem a little rough for the westerners this is quite typical for Russians, thus, Irkutsk citizens approach here for summer recreation.
Many backpackers from Irkutsk prefer to camp in tents at the nearby smaller bays. These tourists arrive to Peschanay Bay by hydrofoil boats operated from Irkutsk twice a week on Fridays and Sundays as well as by passenger hovercraft “Barguzin” which makes a short stop here on the way to the east cost of Baikal.
Even though Peschanaya Bay is a remote location isolated from the mainland by the tall mountain range, it is still quite a busy tourist center at Lake Baikal. Nevertheless, Peschanaya Bay remains its natural beauty with wonderful sceneries and landscapes untouched by development, mass tourism and uncontrolled car camping often found elsewhere on Baikal shores.