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A True Farm & People at Lake Baikal

 

“Summer Baikal is an especially peaceful and serene place to visit. Bright wild flowers and mushrooms cover the mountains and silk worm butterflies are plenty and more than mosquitoes. The lake is a beautiful place to swim and is clean enough you can drink it. The Russians have so little themselves, yet they give so much. However, "no thank you" does not seem to be within their understanding. I don't eat fish, but this family said that I had to try Baikal fish - that it was the best in the world. After some 10 minutes debate I finally gave in and said that I would try a little of a fish called 'Sig'. It was actually really tasty and I managed to eat a whole piece...
Now I think Moscow and even the stunning St Petersburg pale in comparison to this part - the heart, of Russia. It is the heart of Russia twofold. Firstly, geographically, but secondly, it is full of people that contain hearts that are equal in size to the Siberian mountains themselves…”
(Rowena Hilton)

Located on the bank of the Buguldeika river, opposite the village of the same name and 2 km from the shore of Lake Baikal, in a cozy and somehow secluded environment at the foothill of the legendary Mishkina Mountain – the “Zarechnoye Estate” Farm is a true place on Lake Baikal for those who seek both active and useful vacation.
In just a bit more than 200 km away from Irkutsk you will find yourself in beautiful area with a great feeling of space, the right place for a countryside stay for those who may come for a change of pace from their lives in frenetic cities, or horse riding, or joining in the work to help tend the animals at “Zarechnoye Estate”.
“Zarechnoye Estate” Horse breeding and Agricultural Farm has been established over 7 years and is owned and operated by the Perevoznikov family ( see the photo) , real Siberians with certain touch of Lake Baikal who are spending now their life breeding horses, providing excellent horseback trip in gorgeous Baikal environs, as well as raising milk and meat cattle, poultry . The family and farm people also desire to teach someone from another country about horses and dairying; and enjoy this sort of involvement. y choosing this farm for your stay or vacation, you’ll also support small, local business. Farming, in general, is a lot of hard work that leaves minimal profit. And farming in this part of Siberia where vegetation period lasts the average of 68 days, given Siberian “very” sharp continental climate, can be twice that hard. Moreover, in spite of many (though often inefficient) governmental efforts to support individual farms in Russia lots ill-fated funds allocated to help the agriculture are often wasted, to say the least. Here small operations in agriculture survive by combining income from various sources, and such family-owned farms across Lake Baikal area as the Perevoznikovs one tend to turn to tourism to keep the business going.
While staying at the “Zarechnoye Estate” besides taking lessons of and horse riding in picturesque Baikal surrounding taiga-woods or pasture fields you’ll be able to see and learn how Fresh whole milk is separated into cream and skim milk, yogurts are made from skim milk, how cream enriched with milk fat turns into butter, how cheese is made of curd, how to properly use the “banya” or heat the “samovar’ with pine cones for tea, certainly, taste and eat natural food products, communicate with common Russian people and learn lots of simple and world wise things from them, be taught to not fear the natural world…
The itinerary below is flexible and you can do as much or little as you like. Join in every day farm life, take a horse ride or relax on the verandah of the guest house, enjoy fabulous countryside vacation near beautiful Lake Baikal.

The “Zarechnoye Estate” Guest Facilities include:
Major 1-story accommodation facility that can host 17 persons in twin and triple rooms (sanitary facilities – toilet with a flash and shower are for the general use of all guests ) plus one” junior-suite’ with private sanitary facility .
Additional smaller accommodation facility is a 2-storey cottage just opposite the main facility that has 2 twin rooms with modern amenities and 3 twins on the 2-nd floor without private sanitary facility.
There’s a summer swimming pool structure set up close to the home for convenience and protected from wind by household fence, while exposed to the most of daily sunshine. The dining room and cookhouse are in one wooden structure that also has an outside verandah.
The meals vary. While breakfast is mostly local dairy products , porridge etc., lunch is a more upscale affair featuring borsch-red-beet soup or home-made noodle one, main course including at some times grilled or fried omul-fish, plus one of traditional Siberian salads as appetizers;, most dinner meals are casual ones in the cookhouse.. . At the farm guests’ disposal is a traditional Siberian sauna called “banya” in a separate wooden structure (birch besoms for a Siberian steam massage will be provided as well as some “banya” expertise if required).

Outline of your stay and activities program on the “Zarechnoye Estate” farm ( Day 2 – 5).
Day 1
After arrival in Irkutsk transfer to your hotel for check in. Sightseeing tour of Irkutsk this day will include visits to the city’s most atmospheric and historical sites including Znamenskaya Orthodox Cathedral, noted for its original iconostasis, grave of the so-called “Russian Columbus” Grigory Shelekhov who was an early Russian explorer of Alaska and graves of the Decembrists-revolutionaries banned to Siberia after an ill-fated attempt in 1825 to overthrow the Russian tsar. Dinner and overnight in the hotel.

Day 2
After breakfast check out from the hotel for a transfer by coach to the village of Buguldeika (220 km, 3.5 hour drive) through steppe and taiga-woods landscapes. Upon arrival check in at the guest lodge of the “Zarechnoye Estate”. After lunch – be introduced to the Estate’s farm and its facilities
The primary activity on the ranch of the “Zarechnoye Estate” besides farming is horseback riding through a variety of terrain. They have healthy, well groomed, sure footed and unspoilt horses to suit riders of various experience levels. And they will match horse and rider. Less experience riders will be given a safe and quiet horse in all respects. So, to begin with you’ll spend some time riding a horse or taking lessons in the corrals. The local wrangler will teach how to ride, beginning with grooming and saddling your horse. With maximum of twenty guests on the ranch at a time, they will be able to give you enough attention to teach to you to ride well. For experience riders they match a horse that will take you at a leisurely amble if you wish or will also be competent at galloping along the trail or jumping the obstacles on the cross-country course. Finally, each of you will be assigned your own horse, along with everything you will need to take good care of your horse: feed, groom and tack up.

After such an introduction and horse assignment you’ll take a horseback ride in the vicinity of the Buguldeika village.

Good horseback riding involves good communication between the horse and the rider. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to rely on the bit. However, you can communicate and maintain control with your horse using only your legs and seat. Once you've mastered this technique, you'll find your ride easier, even if it involves a bit of physical abilities.

On return to the lodge learn before lunch how Siberian meat-dumplings are made, and probably take part later in preparing this popular Russian dish. After lunch - take a walk to the legendary Mishkina Mountain atop of which there’re great vistas of the Baikal surroundings. Or if you volunteer you can take part in the farm activities as per the daily chore schedule.

Dinner back at the Estate, and the rest of the evening is yours either to take nice sunset pictures, sit and communicate with other guests near the campfire, or join the cowboy heading with the horses for the night pasture (with an overnight under starry skies when you volunteer).

Day 3
At 7 a.m. on the “Zarechnoye Estate” farm it’s time for chores. After a.m. milking and having the herd out to pasture you have a hearty farmer's breakfast., certainly, featuring whole cow's milk with all the enzymes and nothing added. Before lunch the rest of the time you’re welcome to get involved in other chore activities or ride horse in the corral. Though, the farm work isn’t mandatory, but the estate people know that most guests don’t want to miss out. And besides taking care of your horse there’re plenty of opportunities for your other involvement: you might be collecting chicken eggs for breakfast, watering hotbeds, taking lessons of how to milk a cow and then practice it bearing in mind that cows may express themselves right off by kicking over the bucket, losing half that day's milk …..
After lunch get prepared for our 4 to 5-hour horse back trip to the marble quarry and along Lake Baikal shore. The basics of horse riding in a trail ride will be more exciting for you and often people learn easier in the relaxed atmosphere on a trail. Those with yet less experience once you have mastered a few basics, stop, turn left, turn right, you don’t have to learn any more than you wish to and can just sit on the horse and talk to your friends and enjoy the scenery of Lake Baikal environs. Anyway, you will be in the capable hands of an experienced instructor at all times when you are on a horse
Dinner featuring home made dishes will be served back at the Estate , and then there’ll be a nice chance to learn and sing some Russian songs – especially, the Glorious Sea-the Holy Baikal”- sitting round he campfire. Or just kick back on the lodge porch and gaze at the bright stars above gorgeous Baikal with tranquility at your door. Or join the wranglers taking horses to the overnight pasture…

Day 4
Early a.m. farm chores : you may head out into the open pastures for some trail riding. And if there is cattle drive one of the days during your stay, you can join in moving the cattle from one pasture to the next. You can be a part of the spectacle of rounding up ….. head of cattle!
Before lunch you will also take a walk to the village to see some of the marvelous and fance decorated wooden houses with gingerbread, as well as do some shopping if you need.
This evening volunteers will be invited to compete in “best butter maker” (winners are entitled to a special award). Actually, making butter seems to be so easy, at first sight. To simplify the task of our competitors cream (around 40 -45 % fat) shall be provided, as well as to enable you to have chance for training before even you come to the “Zarechnoye Estate”, please, take from us a simple recipe that makes about 200 g of butter. So, you will need a clean container that can hold about 500 ml of liquid with a screw-on lid, 2 cups of 45 % cream. (Note, that your competition will be team based because making butter is an activity best to be done in pairs so your arms don’t get so much tired). Then put the cream into the container and screw the lid on tight. Now all that is needed is 'shaking and shaking again and only’ for over 10 minutes, maximum 15. When this time is up, carefully remove the lid of the container to find that your cream has turned into butter, surrounded by liquid called buttermilk. After removing the butter from the container, and assessing it by the referee, your butter is ready to spread on bread…
The butter we obtained tonight shall be the one eaten at evening meal celebration.

Day 5
Other than horse riding outdoor activities at the “Zarechnoye Estate” lodge vicinity on the June to September trips include a half-day of special “bubling” water rafting - a real fun on the stream designed and made by the head of the Perevoznikovs – Sergei himself. So, after lunch you’ll be offered to undertake that funny “bubling” trip which doesn’t require special fitness and skills will be learnt throughout the trip itself… After lunch enjoy another horseback ride or take part in the daily farm chores.
In the evening during our Farewell Party you’ll be introduced to another primordial Russian drink technology - production of the moonshine which you will be able to taste…
All the while, during your farm stay at the Estate you learnt the simple lessons of life on the farm near Lake Baikal. And we hope that after the days you spent here you would really believe that “Zarechnoye Estate” is the place where chores are fun, and that your stay here was both physical and spiritual enjoyment!
Day 6 – after breakfast transfer to Irkutsk. Upon arrival transfer to the railway station/airport.

"What Russian does not love fast driving? How could his soul, which is so eager to whirl round and round, to forget everything in a mad carousel, to exclaim sometimes "To hell with it all!" - how could his soul not love it? ... Is it not like that, that you too, Russia, are speeding along like a spirited troika that nothing can overtake? Russia, where are you flying to? Answer! She gives no answer. The bells fill the air with their wonderful tinkling; the air is torn asunder, it thunders and is transformed into wind; everything on earth is flying past, and, looking askance, other nations and states draw aside and make way for her."- (the end of 19th-century novel Dead Souls by Nikolay Gogol)




 

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