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In Harmony With Nature (project is completed)

Timeline for this project: July 10-23, 2017 (14 days in all)

Languages spoken on site: Russian and English

Project Site: Village of Mishikha, in the Baikal Nature Reserve, Buryatia

The long-term goal of this project is: To promote the development of sustainable, socially responsible eco-tourism in our region.

Project scope of work: Our aim is to enhance the image of the reserve. The work that we will do on this project will primarily be creative or artistic in nature. The participants will do the painting of the trailer at the bird ringing station of the Baikal reserve as well as relishing of the surrounding area. Our volunteers will be asked to wield paint brushes and other tools — all under the friendly guidance of a master painter and project crew leader.

There will be a crew leader who helps manage all of the volunteers at the work-site. She or he will be joined by an interpreter, who will not only ensure smooth communication amongst all of the participants, but also will help run our after-hours cultural programs for the group.

Depending on weather conditions and the wishes of our volunteers, the crew leader has the right to change the work schedule. The average time for working each day is 6 hours, with a break for lunch.

Accommodation and meals: Volunteers will be asked to set up a general campsite near to the place of work. The crew leader will also help create a work schedule that gives participants various tasks related to clean-up, as well as camp fire and meal preparation. The GBT will come to the camp with two weeks worth of food and other supplies. It also will provide all the necessary work equipment, cooking and eating utensils, tools, and a full complement of two-person tents.

There will be no hot showers on-site. But you will be able to heat up water to bathe with a wash-cloth. Or you can choose to take a dip in the refreshingly brisk waters of Lake Baikal.

Please see one of our sample menu of food.

Days off: We will visit the Baikal Museum of Nature and see exibitions of Baikal Reserve visitor center. Also we will be able to experience a banya (Russian sauna). And if weather is good we will take a hike up into Khamar-Daban Mountains on one weekend day.

Project work-load: Traveling with tools to the place of work. Carrying personal belongings, camping inventory, tools, and food on the first day of the project and on the way back.

Please note that we ask you to bring a larger back-pack that holds at least 70 liters of material. Changes in the local climate make it necessary for you to bring a rain jacket, a warm pullover or sweater, and long pants. Also please bring hiking boots that can withstand rain and muddy conditions.

We suggest
that you take the time to review our list of required equipment that we strongly recommend to bring.

Also please be sure to carefully read the FAQ and information concerning ticks.

The gathering point at the beginning of the project will be the city of Irkutsk. We will be ready to meet you at 9AM on July 10th at our GBT headquarters. Our advice is for you to arrive in the city no later than the evening of the 9th, so that you will be on time for our morning meeting the next day. We will reserve mini-vans to take you over to the village of Mishikha, where the project will take place. Mishikha is about 260km (150 miles) from Irkutsk, or about 5 hours by car.

The village of Mishikha is located on the banks of the river of the same name, in the lower foothills of the Khamar-Daban Mountains. This is where the Baikal Nature Reserve monitors birds species by putting leg bands (or rings) on birds at a special station near the village. Part of our work will involve helping reserve staff with this banding process.

At the end of the project after completing work at the banding station, our participants will move on to Tankhoy. The village of Tankhoy was once a hub for the Trans-Baikal Railway. This is where locals would often meet trains by boating (or in winter, by skiing) across the lake.

We will visit the Baikal Museum of Nature and see exibitions of Baikal Reserve visitor center in Tankhoi. Also everyone will have a chance of taking a real Russian steam bath, or wet sauna.
Once again, if weather is good we will take a group hike up into the scenic highlands of the Khamar-Daban.

Project Cost: The overall fee for joining this project—covering all costs for registration, food, and local transportation, as well as for accommodation in a hostel here in Irkutsk on the last day of the project (on the night of July 23)—will be 25,000 rubles.

Due to the strong demand to participate in our GBT projects, we suggest that you book a place on this project by sending in a 20% (or US $80) non-refundable deposit at your convenience. This amount will be counted as part of the total project fee. It covers the cost of your visa invitation, project preparation, the purchase of all necessary supplies and administrative expenses. Payment information can be downloaded here.

The remainder of the fees will be due on your arrival. Please remember that there are a very limited number of places available for this project!


*Please take the time to fill out an application once you are 100% sure that you will want to participate in this fun project.

*Please also note that, if you do not receive an immediate reply from us within a week—or if you have any other questions about participating in this project—you can connect with us directly via the following e-mail address: international-volunteers@greatbaikaltrail.org.

GBT is happy to announce that this year one of its projects, i.e. ‘In Harmony with Nature’ has been selected to participate in the World Heritage Volunteers Initiative and particularly the World Heritage Volunteers 2017 campaign – Heritage in Our Hands, in the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education (WHE) Programme. This Programme aims to increase awareness and reinforce youth’s involvement at a local and global level in the implementation of the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Thus, with our project we want to bring once again some attention to the world’s deepest and oldest lake that contains 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve. The ultimate project’s goal is the promotion of the sustainable and socially-responsible eco-tourism on a regional level. As a side effect, the project will directly affect the protection of the bird population as well as improve existing conditions of the Baikal Nature Reserve through participants’ creativity.