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NEWS  / TRAIL BUILDING IN PRISTINE SIBERIA
15.05.2007


Working on the Great Baikal TrailTrail Building in Pristine Siberia
Speak English OR Russian!
June 15 - Sept 14

The Great Baikal Trail (GBT), www.greatbaikaltrail.org, is a small conservation non-profit based in Siberia with the mission of building a 1,300 mile trail around Lake Baikal to help create an infrastructure for ecological tourism as an alternative to industrial development.

Work, cook, camp, live, and make friends while part of an international multi-cultural work crew in pristine, and sometimes remote, parts of the Lake Baikal Basin. Interact with locals and indigenous people, such as Buryats and Evenks (their history goes back to the Genghis Khan Era). Volunteers are diverse in age and life experience (usually 60% female and 40%), many keep in touch for life.

GBT has 23 two-week long, summer 2007 projects. Participants must know English OR Russia and be 18 or older. Each project has 15 to 20 volunteers (typically half Russian and half international), a Russian crew leader, and a Russian English / Russian translator. Former international volunteers are from many places such as Africa, Australia, Canada, China, Europe, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, USA, and more.

Customized work projects and village home stays may be arranged for an organized group. Long-term volunteers also needed.

Relaxing on the Great Baikal TrailCost

GBT fee: $250 to $300 per person for a project. The fee pays for registering your visa with local authorities, food for the time of the project, tents (or other lodging), crew leaders, translators, trail-building equipment, and transportation from the project start location to the project (www.greatbaikaltrail.org has exact fee for each project). Reduce your GBT fee by 10% for every person you sign up to be a volunteer. Sign up 10 people, and you pay no GBT fee.

Other Costs (approximate): Russian visa, $250; Air or Trans-Siberia train from Moscow or Beijing to Siberia $400-600 round trip); Roundtrip air to Moscow or Beijing from USA, ~$1,600.

Contact: gbt.volunteers@gmail.com   www.greatbaikaltrail.org

Summer 2007 Great Baikal Trail Projects
(see
www.greatbaikaltrail.org for details)

June 15- June 28, Warm Lakes. Setting: A foothill area along a mountain stream with 3 forested warm water lakes 7 km from Lake Baikal. Water temperature is 38C / 82F in the lakes. The combination of the snow-capped peaks, clear icy streams, and sandy beaches of the Warm Lakes make for a stunning and unforgettable experience. Work: Trail building in the Murinsky Forest Territory.

June 29-July 12, The Land of Baikal’s Taiga. Setting: Southern coast of Lake Baikal in Pribaikal’skij National Park between the picturesque villages of Listvyanka and Bolshie Koti, a small fishing village reachable only by trail or boat. Work: Construct a safe trail between Listvyanka and Bolshie Koti. This trail is well-known for its beautiful views.
 
Working on the Great Baikal TrailJuly 1 – 14. Nature Trails – 1. Setting: A remote area on the northeastern coast of Lake Baikal reachable only by boat. Work: Restoring areas of a reserve that have been damaged by human activity and by erosion, dismantling old structures, improving an eco-campsite, and constructing eco-trails.

July 5 – 18, Monakhovo - Snake Bay. Setting: A remote and peaceful area on the eastern side of Lake Baikal near a small fishing village on the shore of Chivyrkuiskyi Gulf, one of the most beautiful places on Lake Baikal. Water in the bay reaches a comfortable temperature. Work: Trail construction and signing.

July 12 - 25, Land of Baikal’s Taiga – 1. Setting: Southern coast of Lake Baikal, between the picturesque villages Listvyanka and Bolshie Koty. Bolshie Koty is a small fishing reachable only by trail or boat. Work: Construction of a safe trail between the picturesque villages of Listvyanka and Bolshie Koti. This trail is well-known for its beautiful vistas and has always been very popular with hikers of all ages. 

July 12-25, In the Jungles of Khamar-Daban – 1. Setting: Southern coast of Lake Baikal. It is a “jungle” because the vegetation reminds one of the lush Amazon wilderness. Enormous trees and ferns that grow taller than a man flourish. Work: 6 kilometers of the trail requires restoration.

July 13 – 27, Nature Trails – 2. Setting: A remote area on the northeastern coast of Lake Baikal reachable only by boat. Work: Restoring areas of a reserve that have been damaged by human activity and by erosion, dismantling old structures, improving an eco-campsite, and constructing eco-trails.

July 20 – August 2, On the Path of Ancient Evenks. Setting: In a spectacular valley dotted with hundreds of small lakes and is bordered by steep peaks of the Barguzin mountain range. This project takes place relatively far from the shores of Lake Baikal, but it gives volunteers a chance to see ancient, untouched Siberian nature. Work: Clearing and marking the trail corridor, constructing the trail, building bridges and stone overpasses across swampy areas, and constructing a traditional Evenk house “chum.” 

July 20 – August 2, Holy Nose. Setting: On the southeast side of Lake Baikal in the foothills of the Holy Nose peninsula in Zabaikalskyi National Park.  Work: Trail improvement and construction.

July 20 - August 2, ENCHANTED COAST – 1. Setting: On the southeastern shore of Lake Baikal, in a valley with a very comfortable microclimate. There are several spas on this part of the coast that rely on the local hot springs and wonderful weather to heal various kinds of ailments. Work: Building a hiking trail and planting trees between the villages of Turka and Goryachinsk. The trail follows a 350 year old road connecting Ulan-Ude and the town of Barguzin.

July 20 –  August 2, NORTHERN START. Setting: On the northwestern coast of Lake Baikal near two lakes good for swimming. Work: Trail building and teaching English with youth 12-19 years old, in partnership with a nearby School of Tourism and Environmental Education. The students will actively participate in the project.

August 4 - August 17, Baikalskaya Zaimka. Setting: On the northwestern coast of Lake Baikal between Senogda Bay to Onokochanskaya Bay. This area is one of the most beautiful corners of Lake Baikal within easy reach of a village and often appears in booklets and postcards. Work: Improve an existing 5-6 km GBT trail between Senogda Bay and Onokochanskaya Bay (clear vegetation, widen the trail bed, mark the trail, prepare and erect permanent information signs).

July 23 - August 5, Lake Baunt – the wild north project. Setting: This project takes place  in a sparsely populated region with wild nature, picturesque lakes, rapid rivers, high mountains, and hot springs. Work: Construction of a trail, viewing platforms, rock stairways, trail markers, and wooden signs. 

July 25 – August 7, Land of Baikal’s Taiga – 2. Setting: Southern coast of Lake Baikal, between the picturesque villages Listvyanka and Bolshie Koty. Bolshie Koty is a small fishing reachable only by trail or boat. Work: Construction of a safe trail between the picturesque villages of Listvyanka and Bolshie Koti including build stairs and viewing platforms at several locations along the trail. This trail is well-known for its beautiful vistas and has always been very popular with hikers of all ages. 
 
July 25-August 7, MAKSIMIKHA – 1, Maksimikha Bay. Setting: Southeastern coast of Lake Baikal, on a bay with a very comfortable microclimate. There are several spas on this part of the coast that use local hot springs (and wonderful weather) to heal various illnesses. Work: Clearing a trail corridor, building log bridges and dikes, marking the trail and constructing rest stops.

August 2-15, In the Jungles of Khamar-Daban – 2. Setting: Southern coast of Lake Baikal. It is a “jungle” because the vegetation reminds one of the lush Amazon wilderness. Enormous trees and ferns that grow taller than a man flourish. Work: 6 kilometers of a trail requires restoration.

August 2-15, ENCHANTED COAST – 2. Setting: On the southeastern shore of Lake Baikal, in a valley with a very comfortable microclimate. There are several spas on this part of the coast that rely on the local hot springs and wonderful weather to heal various kinds of ailments. Work: Building a hiking trail and planting trees between the villages of Turka and Goryachinsk. The trail follows a 350 year old road connecting Ulan-Ude and the town of Barguzin. 

August 10-23, Krokhalinaya Bay. Setting: Eastern shore of Lake Baikal, Zabaikalskyi National Park. Work: Constructing a trailhead, clearing and marking the trail, and building new and improving existing camp sites.

August 10 – 23, MAKSIMIKHA – 2. Setting: Southeastern coast of Lake Baikal, on a bay with a very comfortable microclimate. There are several spas on this part of the coast that use local hot springs (and wonderful weather) to heal various illnesses. Work: Clearing a trail corridor, building log bridges and dikes, marking the trail and constructing rest stops.

August 15 – 28, Land of Baikal’s Taiga – 3. Setting: Southern coast of Lake Baikal, between the picturesque villages Listvyanka and Bolshie Koty. Bolshie Koty is a small fishing reachable only by trail or boat. Work: Construction of a safe trail between the picturesque villages of Listvyanka and Bolshie Koti. This trail is well-known for its beautiful vistas and has always been very popular with hikers of all ages. 

Dinner on the Great Baikal Trail29 August – 11 September 2007, the "Stars of Balan-Tamur". Setting: East of Lake Baikal in the ancient, untouched Siberian nature of Dzherginskii National Nature Reserve. Although not near Lake Baikal, this project gives a chance to experience an area of pure wilderness, picturesque lakes, rapid-running rivers, and high mountain peaks in the sparsely populated northeast corner of the Buryat Republic. Work: Clean up and widen the trail where it already exists, and build up whole new stretches of the trail, often using rock walk-ways to do so.  We will also create switchbacks where the terrain might be too steep, and mark the trail with special directional and other signs.

September 1-14, Path to Clean Baikal – 2. Setting: East of Lake Baikal in the ancient, untouched Siberian nature of Dzherginskii National Nature Reserve. Although not near Lake Baikal, this project gives a chance to experience an area of pure wilderness, picturesque lakes, rapid-running rivers, and high mountain peaks in the sparsely populated northeast corner of the Buryat Republic. Work: Trailhead, trail, and campsite construction and improvement. 

GBT References (volunteers that have worked in Russia on GBT projects):

Joshua Hartshorne, from USA. “As a student in St. Petersburg, I had a wonderful host family. Otherwise, I found it very difficult to meet Russians, a frustration shared by nearly every other student. Contrast this with my volunteer experience: When I came to Irkutsk to volunteer at the Great Baikal Trail Association, my "boss" met me at the train station and put me up for a week with her friends. Within literally hours, I had a circle of friends inviting me on hiking trips, advising me on buying skis, and inviting me to parties. To this day, I have met every one of my friends through my volunteer job. I have been on numerous ski trips, attended a wedding, hosted a New Year’s Party (the most important Russian holiday) that lasted almost 24 hours, and threw a bachelor’s party—in short, I’ve done all those things I wanted to do as a student.” Additional comments are posted by Joshua on: http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0409/volunteer_in_russia.shtml

Christoph Schmaltz, from Germany, volunteered with GBT in Irkutsk, in March 2005. "I worked in the GBT office in Irkutsk for about one month. Although I spent just a short time with the organization I had the chance to meet very lovely people who were without any exception highly committed to the work of GBT. Drinking tea, eating cookies and chatting in Russian with GBT members was a great and utmost positive experience during my time in Russia."    

Allan Meyer, from USA. “Being involved with the GBT was truly a life-changing experience for me--I met so many good friends there, and my future wife too! So now, in a very literal sense I have family in Siberia. But without this great project I would never have met these people or experienced the magic that is Lake Baikal.”



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