Travel Circum-Baikal Railway

Will 96 ph
Writes martin:
Our journey from Moscow to Lake Baikal began on 22 July 2012, and two weeks later we went hitchhiking to Irkutsk. The path took so much time because we Anya stayed for a few days in Samara, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk. If you subtract all the stops in the cities, then to overcome the 5,500 kilometers in five trucks it took us about 5 days.

On the morning of August 6th, we arrived in the center of Irkutsk and as real hipsters, first went to look for a good cafe with Wi-Fi, to mount and put the final fifth video about hitchhiking. We found a funny place called Lenin Street, the logo of which is almost an exact copy of Starbucks. When the sun began to set, we have been clear that we are too and sat on this day will not go away, and found a place for the night in advance was not. So the first thing we have to look for a free version of the fit. A few hours we dug forums, communities and the site Couchsurfing, but nothing at all could not find, although Irkutsk tourist destination, because through it a lot of foreigners traveling to Lake Baikal. As a result, we have found a nice inexpensive hostel is a 10-minute walk. In Irkutsk, a lot of foreign tourists, and we were a couple of times on the curve English shouting something like "Watts up, niggers?" Intoxicated local youth, as we walked to the hotel. With the Internet, complete disaster happened, so the next day we had dozalivat video, so went to Lake Baikal is not in the morning, we wanted originally. From Irkutsk Baikal easiest to drive in two ways: by shuttle bus to Listvyanka or train to Kultuk and Slyudyanka. Our first goal was a small trip to the Circum-Baikal Railway!
At present, the name of the Circum-Baikal Railway is a dead-end portion of the length of 89 kilometers on the western shore of the village of Baikal to Slyudyanka-2 station. But the story of this road is much more romantic and interesting than just dry facts!

It all started more than 170 years ago, when the first projects of construction of the railway bypassing Lake Baikal on the south side. After the final approval of the project, in 1896, construction began on the site on the left bank of the Angara, from Irkutsk to Cape Ustyansky, which is Port Baikal. The construction of a difficult section of the railway from Slyudyanka up to station Baikal began only in the spring of 1902. Difficult terrain coast forced the builders most of the route of the road or in tunnels to pave or artificial shelves cut into the rock. For each kilometer of road was spent on average about carriage of explosives. The railway was taken into operation in October 1905 and ensure the continuity of the Trans-Siberian trains exclusively on rails, without the use of ferries. Initially Circum had only one track, but in 1911-1914 were carried out work on the construction of the second track, which significantly increase the capacity.


Unfortunately, in 1940, it began the decline of the Circum-Baikal Railway. Service and previously planned reconstruction is too expensive, so instead offered to convert single-track road from Irkutsk to Slyudyanka over the mountains, being finished by the time to double-track electrified rail. Construction saddle road Irkutsk - Slyudyanka began in August 1941, and in the mid-50s the main course of the Trans-Siberian Railway was transferred to a new site. At the same time the construction of the Irkutsk hydroelectric power station, which is why part of the Trans-Siberian railway from Irkutsk to Baikal village was demolished in 1956, and later flooded during the filling of the reservoir of Irkutsk. As a result, a deadlock emerged the modern route Baikal Railway from Slyudyanka to Port Baikal, and with superfluous was pulled the first path.

Our goal was to walk along the Circum much have time for 3-4 days, because the return tickets to Moscow have already been purchased, and still wanted to go on Olkhon Island. Since we had a double tents, sleeping bags, gas burner, waterproof mat instead of foams, which only take place, all sorts of hygiene spray for mosquitoes and other little things. To charge the phone we had two battery IconBit, because of which broke GoPro camera and damage the battery Anya's phone, and it was still possible to charge from your laptop. For the camera I only had one battery, which is fine enough for all the days. Products to buy a lot not specifically to avoid lugging extra weight on her, and hoped for shops in the villages.
So! In the evening, August 7, we arrived at a stopping point Strawberry, which is located on the same section of the railway, to replace 60 years ago along the Circum Baikal. Before Slyudyanka go there was no point, because easier to go down to the station Kultuk and from there to go at the Circum-Baikal Railway.

To be honest, that first thought when we saw Baikal was "Ohrenet! They arrived! ". It was getting dark very quickly, and we had a little bit away from the village of Kultuk and find a good place to put up a tent and spend the night without any adventure. We walked down the hill to the station Kultuk, where absolutely no one was there, and found a great place on the edge of the bluff, having first about five kilometers by rail. The batteries were included with the bright lights USB-connector, which rescued many times, so to pitch a tent in the dark, quite there were no problems. There was nothing more to do, and we went to bed.

The next morning the weather was gorgeous! Fresh air awakened appetite, and therefore it was necessary to prepare something to eat. It was very convenient that the source of fresh water has always been, literally, next door. We always carry a bottle of water, and when it ended, it just came down and filled it from the lake. That morning, the first time I went to get water for the pasta and was surprised by the temperature of the water. I knew that Baikal is always cold, but did not think so. We ate a delicious and hit the road.

Because of the small waves and the characteristic sound of the sea reminds Baikal, but only see the opposite shore. The first time it was still possible to see the villages on the other side, the main railway line and some white rocks in the hills.

At first, it was not difficult to walk, backpack did not seem heavy, everything was interesting and pleasing to the eye, but after a while the big stones and very frequent sleepers started to irritate. I had to periodically rest ...

The first tunnel, met us a few hundred meters. If you start from the direction of kilometers, this is the last tunnel on the Circum-Baikal, but it has a catalog of tunnels №16. Through it passed the second path, which many years ago was removed, so the rails here is not preserved.

The current path is actually the second, which was built after the launch of Circum-Baikal railway in single-track performance. That is, first we built a road through the tunnel, and 10 years later was probably technically possible to build a number of new path without the tunnel, and the old remained.

Who Circum-Baikal Railway there are 39 preserved tunnels with a total length 9150 meters, the 15 surviving stone galleries with total length of 1210 meters and 3 concrete galleries with a total length 153 meters.

Since the beginning of the 80s Circum started to become a tourist destination, at the same time was held a series of activities to strengthen the structures and a new way to shift all along the road.

Now the railway runs several different trains. Once a day, from Slyudyanka to Port Baikal diesel train rides RA-2, which is essentially an analog of an ordinary train, and is therefore very cheap. But we first met excursion train "Circum-Baikal Express", which comes directly from the Irkutsk and Slyudyanka it touches normal diesel.

Why, then before the trip, I did not look any information about the Circum-Baikal Railway and trusted Ana and her stories, so little empty tunnels without rails saddened me quite quickly. All the fun was just ahead!

In Irkutsk, we bought a good map of the Circum-Baikal Railway, where they were awarded settlements detail, the mileage, the name of the headlands, places for camps and other useful data. So we always knew where to come and that it was possible to look.



Why was it necessary to dismantle the second path if the road is still no longer actively used, I do not understand. Any specific information, why did it not, maybe just sleepers dismantled for firewood. But the bridge, of course, not destroyed, and now they are so overgrown with grass.

In the picture perfectly clear what used to be a relief to the construction of the second track. It turns out that the first blasting were only tunnels, and then decided that in some places it is possible gouging and a piece of rock! :)


The opposite bank is increasingly moving away from us, and on the way met the first tunnel current. The most amazing thing is that, historically, this double-track tunnel. The only track laid in the middle of the tunnel already during the reconstruction at the end of the twentieth century.

After three kilometers, we reached the first on our way Angasolka old village. There we bought a product and met a noisy group of children with the pioneers. The village, though small, but life there seems to be actively proceeds. Along the railroad went tourists, the locals are very positive and greeted us.


And then it began a lot of tunnels! The photo shows clearly that it is placed two paths before, though very close to each other.

Not to say that a lot of tourists, but at times we crossed with them on rail or passed by the tents in which the reason is usually no one was there.

Sami tunnels built from rocks, received at his own sinking.




A serious problem in the Circum-Baikal Railway were and are still frequent landslides and debris flows. Serious landslides occurred during the construction of roads, especially with the use of explosives. To prevent dam pathways were built special gallery in the most fragile areas.



This tunnel №35, called "Habartuy 2". With a length of 548 meters, it is one of the longest tunnels Circum-Baikal Railway. Outside, above the tunnel towering cliffs with cormorants, and approximately in the center there is a niche for this pass-through of the rock.


Later in the afternoon we have already identified some of the map a place where you can put up a tent and spend the night. On the way we had to go through the village Sharyzhalgay, which had hoped. Products we still have, but would like to buy some more vegetables and potatoes.

When we reached Sharyzhalgaya, it became clear that there was no shop here, but there are several houses and tourist center, which is now without guests. In this camp we found women who had to persuade us to sell for 200 rubles a few potatoes, tomatoes, onions, some cookies, and something else.


A good place to camp should appear almost immediately after Sharyzhalgaya, but from the shore was only a steep slope with stones and bushes, and by the time we walked more than 15 kilometers and is already well worn out. Right at the rocks to put a tent, you should not, for obvious reasons.



I had to stomp another 2-3 kilometers to find a place for the night. But it was worth it, because the ground was soft and without stones, the way the tent hardly be seen, and the trees around us sheltered in case of sudden rain at night.

We felt the whole weight and fatigue when removed backpacks and fell to the ground. In fact, before we went two weeks of sitting and walking light. Heavy backpack had to carry only in the cities, or to the slopes. On that day, we immediately rushed on foot and passed about 18 kilometers. If I am not mistaken, the Ani backpack weighed 15 kilograms, and my all 20-23 kilograms! In the last forces we set up a tent, make tea, and lay down to sleep.
The next day we went on our way.

The first day we walked about 18 kilometers along the railway at sunset set up a tent in a comfortable place, and lay down to sleep, because the whole body ached from the severity of backpacks. I had a desire to shoot the night starry sky, but I slept like a log, even though the alarm set. In order to have time to go to the island of Olkhon, we had another 2-3 days at Circum-Baikal railway, but the walk to Port Baikal, we would reach still did not have time, so already at that time it was planned to reach the rest of the way to the train, which running once a day. Time was actually enough and we have to crawl out of the tent and ready to leave.

Any revival in a tent is quite interesting emotions, especially for the urban man. The most difficult thing is to determine the right time of day and weather conditions outside the tent for only a small window, which is not possible to get an objective view of what is happening. More strongly influences the color of the tent, distorting the perception of other colors. Our tent was yellow, and the first few seconds after it got out into the street, everything was very blue! :)

We usually had breakfast cookies and tea, especially since much did not want to eat in the morning. Each time, to add to his bag part of the tent, I had to pull out almost all things, and then laid all over again, for fragile items on the bottom will not put. The very visual volume of the tent is easily converted into two small Rulik we Anya divided among themselves at the very beginning of the journey.

Further along the road began to meet more diverse tunnels and galleries, designed to prevent obstruction of ways. And we have become rather quickly tired of the pain in his shoulders and back, often had to rest.

Every time we walked down a long tunnel, all the time, waiting, and suddenly we're lucky, and at this point the train will pass! :)

C weather to us on this day is also very poezlo! All the time the sun was shining, a cool breeze blew Baikal, circling above his head and shouted cormorants. And the most beautiful outside of the tunnel, we met quite soon.

After a couple of hours, we dotopali to a tiny village with a funny name cormorants. Very well at the same moment the train arrived at the same "winding", which runs once a day.

We decided that for variety you can drive to the next nearest settlement on the train, and Rushed to the station, as is "winding" a couple of minutes.

From the village of Kultuk to Port Baikal "winding" goes for more than four hours at a distance of only 80 kilometers. And all because of the fact that the rate of movement is allowed a maximum of 20 km / h because of the legacy of tunnels and fortifications, the wear track and tourists on the roads.

Ticket price really surprised us! We thought that because of the extremely rare trains, the ticket will be worth a couple of hundred rubles. But before the next settlement we reached in just 60 rubles a penny!


We arrived at the village Maritui, located right in the middle of the Circum-Baikal Railway. Then came the majority of passengers and friendly company headed somewhere, most likely to the camp.

We were on any camp site was not necessary, so we just went ahead path. A large Maritui was right on Baikal village standards! Railroad I love since childhood, so the sudden development paths was delighted! Reds on the right train, and it is our "winding" and left our side routed train "Circum-Baikal Express", who we met on the first day on the Circum-Baikal Railway.

We then seemed logical that a large settlement should be at least some small shop, so we decided to find out from local residents. Unfortunately, it turned out that there is no store, but some items can only be bought in the post office.
Post office we found in the yard of one of the houses strung out along the paths.


A woman working at the post office, it is strictly forbidden to take me there, but it turned out to talk to her. Products were few, mostly chocolate, pasta, cheap cigarettes, salt, some cereals, and even on the little things. The woman said that no official delivery of goods and products there, but mail for whatever scheme they still dressed, and bring them to the Department of the people who carry the mail.




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