Ice diving under Lake Baikal is a unique experience to say the least. Done mostly in the months of February and March, due to the clarity of the lake water and the thickness of the ice (80 to 140cm).
One of the most amazing aspects of ice diving relates to the light diffusing through the ice. With sometimes several layers of ice above us the colours, shadows and light formations are nothing short of spectacular. A fabulous sight in a very unusual atmosphere. It is very rare for divers to come out of the water and not have been completely taken back by this experience.
Fauna is rare at this time of the year. Also please realise encounters with the seals are quiet rare as these animals generally live much farther to the North.
Diving is usually done at Olkhon and the surrounding areas of Maloe More and Hoboi. When the weather is good we also have the opportunity to drift dive the drop off at Uhan-Zyun-Kugun. We can see large sponge formations and perch patrolling the clear waters where the rock formations have been polished by erosion.
Our local dive partners are from Aqua-Eco, a group of professional ice divers based out of Irkoutsk. Specializing in the Lake Baikal region, their local knowledge and specialised equipment are at our disposal. Many movies, documentaries and scientific teams have used the services of Aqua-Eco over the last 12 years.
To arrive at the dive sites we travel over the ice in 4x4 vehicles. Once the site is found, tents are erected at the entry and warmed and serve as our base for the dive. This gives us the opportunity to prepare comfortably for the coming dive. Using amazing techniques, the ice is penetrated and an entry to the dive site is created.
Water temperature is generally around 1-2'C for the dive, however at this time of year temperatures can be between -10 and -30'C outside. Don't take too long to get into the water once outside the tent!
The dive durations are normally between 30 and 40 minutes. After the dives the equipment is quickly packed up and we can again use the heated tents where hot drinks and food are usually served.
We are sure you will understand, after reading all the information, that this trip is designed for experienced divers. For the ice diving voyage to Lake Baikal we require a level 2 certification such as PADI Advanced or Level 2. In addition to this, we need you to have at least 30 dives and have experience using a dry suit. For safety, and to fully appreciate the diving in a harsh environment we need to ensure a certain level of experience. We are available of course to discuss this with you.
Specialised equipment is available for hire at Irkoutsk including dry suits for 10EUR/Day and freeze free regulators for 5EUR/Day. All the equipment available has been specially set up for the harsh local environment.
|Minimum diving level required:||PADI Advanced, Level 2 or equivalent|
|Mininum number of logged dives required:||30 dives minimum|
|Documents required:||Dive certification card, log book and proof of repatriation insurance. Valid dive medical within last 12 months.|
|Number of dives included:||4 dives|
|Diving boat(s):||4x4 vehicles|
|Type of tanks:||12 litre aluminium - double exit DIN/INT|
|Mandatory equipment :|
|Recommended diving equipment:||Torches, warm clothes. Drysuit (rent on site possible), dive computer, anti-freeze regulator|
|Closest recompression chamber :||Irkutsk|