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Russia: Behind-the-Scenes Baikal

National Geographic Adventure picks the 25 best new outfitted trips.
Text by Bonnie Tsui   Photograph by Mir Co. and H2Outfitters
Photo: Kayaking Lake Baikal
Venturing out onto Russia's Lake Baikal

WHAT'S NEW: The world's deepest lake, Russia's Baikal is a 7.8-million-acre (3.1-million-hectare) giant deep in the heart of Siberia—getting there requires two overnight flights and a five-hour drive. Ever ponder how you might set out to explore it? Next year, in partnership with Russian trip specialist Mir Corporation, Maine-based H20utfitters aims to show you through their novel program, the Coastlines of Adventure. "It's a way to look at a trip from behind the scenes and be involved in the planning stages," says H2Outfitters founder Jeff Cooper. The intent is to encourage participants to plan their own expeditions; it also makes visiting far-off locales such as Baikal more affordable.

ON THE GROUND:
After a day exploring Moscow, you'll fly overnight to Irkutsk and drive to the shores of Lake Baikal. The next week is spent kayaking the lake's islands, scouting hidden bays, camping among sand dunes, and staying at a mix of guest houses, residential homes, and a barge hotel. When you're not paddling, the cultural experiences are decidedly local: You'll soak in hot springs on the Holy Nose Peninsula, visit a Buryat village, and meet the chief lama at Ivolginsky Buddhist monastery.

Vitals

Outfitter:
H2Outfitters (www.h2outfitters.com

Length:
14 days

Price:
$5,495

Difficulty:
Hard

Departs:
August


Cover: Adventure magazine

Our November 2006 issue features the best new adventure travel trips; an exclusive look inside Iran; a Greenland global warming report; backcountry spas; digital cameras; travel Web sites; weekend getaways; and more.

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