Irkutsk at the dog end of winter is a world drained of colour, of Soviet-era housing blocks, of grey pallid citizens scuttling to get inside housing blocks out of the cold and of the nicotine shroud hanging over the city from the surrounding industry. Thankfully, there’s always the vodka!
And if the above doesn’t do it for you, then there’s always Lake Baikal where the ice queen has well and truly cast her spell. The magical frozen lake is starting to attract pioneering tourists looking for an extreme wilderness experience.
At 360 miles long and 25 miles wide, Baikal is more a sea than a lake, with ferocious storms that can whip up 15ft waves and swallow ships whole. But in winter, the water doesn’t move and the breaking waves hang frozen in mid-air, like a painting.
And then you can take a sled and huskies to get across the painting – with, don’t worry, an expert Russian safety course to guide you. If you’re up for the wintry adventureland, get there with KE Adventure, keadventure.com who run a nine-night Lake Baikal in winter package including dog sledding, hovercraft trips, snow-mobiling and trekking – and thawing out at some point, we hope.