Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Baikal Amur Mainline

You have probably heard of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the line that connects western Russia with the Pacific Ocean and points in-between. But are you familiar with the more recently-built Baikal Amur Mainline, which takes a similar but more northerly route above Lake Baikal?

It was finished in the 1970s, and passes through even more remote territory than its older rival. According to books by Irish writer Dervla Murphy, who travelled on it twice (winter and summer,) it is also better-maintained and more interesting, and carries very few tourists.

I haven't had the pleasure of travelling on either of these trains, though I have seen the Trans-Siberian in Irkutsk and ridden over some of its tracks around the southern end of Lake Baikal, a beautiful region. If this part of the world interests you, check out the schedules and prices on the site of Russian Railways http://eng.rzd.ru or with a travel agency that specialises in this part of the world.

 One such agency I came across recently is called Baikal Complex, http://www.baikalcomplex.com,  based in Irkutsk. It provides reasonably-priced tours and homestays at the towns along the routes of both these railway lines. This is a pretty remote part of the world, and it can be tricky leaving it to the last minute to book a place to stay. The tour company also owns an attractive guest house in Listvyanka on Lake Baikal, pictured below. The guys shown here are enjoying the spring sun near Listvyanka's small market. I was actually trying to take a picture of the dog, but as you see it only partially worked.


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