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Northern Trails (project is completed)

Project dates: August 1-14, 2017 (14 days in all)

Languages spoken on site: Russian and English

Project Site: On the northwest shores of Baikal between Cape Ludar and Slyudanskiye (Mica) Lakes, Buryatia

The long-term goal of this project is: To help develop sustainable and socially responsible eco-tourism in our region.

The significance of this project: The route from the tiny village of Baikalskoye to the Slyudanskiye (or Mica) Lakes covers some 20 km (or 12 miles) of Baikal’s coastline. This is one of the most popular and accessible sites for hikers here in northern Baikal. The terrain here is relatively flat. But it is still very picturesque. There are quite a few sites here that are important to our local history and culture, including ancient rock paintings, as well as a series of tunnels and adits that were built in the 1930s by political prisoners from the local Gulag camp.

For this project a stretch of trail that we built earlier needs to be cleaned up and maintained. And the trailhead and marking signs need to be properly installed.

Project scope of work: This project will involve a multi-day hike, where volunteers will stop along the way and camp for 2-3 days before moving on. At each site we will make various improvements to the trail. Some days we will clear a corridor to extend the trail further. Other days we will mark the existing trail better, or put up interpretive signs, or otherwise construct new sections of trail with new camp-sites and other rest-stops along the way.

There will be a crew leader who helps manage all 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: This project will be on the move, where each participant will be asked to hike to the next work-site, carrying their own backpacks and personal belongings, along with the tools, food, and equipment that we will need to start work at the next site. Each time volunteers will be asked to set up a campsite near to the place of work. The crew-leader will also help create a work schedule to give participants various tasks related to 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 eatiing utensils, tools, as well as 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 the Slyudanskiye Lakes or nearby Lake Baikal.

Please see one of our sample menu of food.

Days off: We plan for one hike over to Cape Ludar, along the shores of Baikal. We also will visit the tunnels and mine shafts that were built long ago by the Gulag prisoners.

Project work-load: Volunteers will be asked to move our campsites during the project, some 10 km in all (about 6 miles). There will also be heavy work using our shovels and pick-axes, and moving logs and rocks and performing other physical tasks.

Please note that the distance that we will hike on any day (between 3-10km) means that you should bring a much larger back-pack that holds at least 80 liters of material. This will allow you to help carry some of the food and tools that we will need to transfer from one camp to another.
The local climate is changeable, so it is advisable to bring a good rain-coat, a warm pullover or sweater, and extra pairs of pants. Your shoes or boots should be comfortable and light, with good treads to prevent skidding on wet surfaces.

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 in the town of Severobaikalsk. Our advice is for you to arrive in the city no later than July 31st. We will let you know later the exact site where we will all meet there in town. But it will be soon after 9AM on the 1st of August that we will take a bus together down to the village of Baikalskoye. This is about a one hour drive, or 40km (25 miles).

Along the way we plan to make a special stop at a holy place for local Buryat countrymen. This place has an unusual name: Oboo. It is renowned for its wonderful views of both Baikal and the nearby Mica Lakes. Many believe that this is one of most beautiful landscapes in our entire Baikal region.

The first phase of our project will unfold at a site near to Baikalskoye village. This village has not changed much over the years. Nestled in the Rale River Valley, it is surrounded by gentle hills. But in the distance you can easily catch sight of the rugged peaks of the Baikalski Mountains. When we are on site, we will take the time to introduce you to some of the historical landmarks and cultural traditions that abound in this region.

We will spend the entire project very near to Baikal’s shorelines. For a change of pace, we will work one day at least on creating a number of interpretive and other signs, as well as produce a collective object of art to “decorate” the trails here.

The project will wind down at a site near to Slyudanskiye Lakes, some 21km (13 miles) from the town of Severobaikalsk. These two shallow lakes are literally a rock’s throw from Baikal itself. In the summer, they heat up very nicely for all swimmers and waders to enjoy. Beyond the lakes there are a few hills that are covered in pine forests.

Along the way, between Baikalskoye village and Mica Lakes, is where we will stop to do the brunt of our trail building and trail maintenance work.

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 Severobaikalsk on the last day of the project (on the night of August 14)—will be 25,000 rubles.

Due to the strong demand for participating 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.


*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.