Discovering the Pearl of Siberia

Discovering the Pearl of Siberia

June 02, 2020

An expedition to lake Baikal with Graine de Photographe

Graine de Photographe is the leader of photography courses in France. Based in Paris they have around 900 students and 50 internships per month. Their mission is to teach to their students how to shoot like pros. Professional photography has its own language, habits and special techniques.

For their recent photo trip they organised a trip to the legendary lake Baikal in Russia. This magnificent lake located in the mountainous region of Siberia just North of Mongolia, is believed to be the deepest continental body of water (1,620 m deep) and oldest lake in the world. It is also considered to be the largest freshwater lake in the world measured by volume. It holds about 20% of the worlds fresh surface water - more water than all of the North American Great Lakes combined. Baikal is home to more than 2,500 species of plants and animals, 2/3 of which can be found nowhere else in the world.

With such an impressive amount of natural beauty, it attracts adventurers and photographers from all corners of the world. For Graine de Photographe second trip this year in March 2020, the goal was to reach the most northern point of the lake at the city Severobaikalsk. 

To their big surprise, this time of the year it was the first time in memory of the driver that the lake was not completely covered with snow in all places. This meant that the team had to make a 400 km detour to avoid the areas of the lake where the ice would have a risk of being too thin for supporting the vehicles.

Their journey brought them along the magnificent shores of Lake Baikal. What follows are some impressions of their amazing adventure.

Ogoî island. Buddhist offerings. NYA-EVO Fjord 36 in Midnight Blue.

Ogoy Island. Buddhist offerings of colorful ribbons hanging from a tree. The area of Lake Baikal is populated by the Buryats. They are the largest indigenous group of Siberia numbering approx 500,000 with Ulan-Ude as the capital of the Buryat republic, a federal subject of Russia. The Buryats converted to Buddhism in the early eighteenth century under the influence of Tibetan and Mongolian missionaries.


The highest point of Ogoy Island at Lake Baikal, the Buddhist Stupa of Enlightenment dedicated to Dakini Tröma Nagmo was built at the initiative of the Moscow Buddhist Center in 2005. 

Eric Legrand, professional photographer and teacher at Graine de Photographe, walking at Yarki island. This is the most northern point of Baikal lake. Yarki island is a narrow strip of land separating the main lake from Angarsk Sor smaller upper lake. In the summer months, this is a popular location to go kayaking and explore the untamed nature of lake Baikal.

Cabin used in the summer for boat rental at Yarki Island.


Severobaykalsk airport with an Antonov An-2. This plane was used in 1974 to transport personnel and equipment for the construction of the BAM Railway. The Baikal-Amur railway is a broad gauge railway line traversing Eastern Siberia. It runs from Tayshet along the north point of Lake Baikal all the way to the east where it finally reaches the Pacific Ocean at Sovetskaya Gavan.

The BAM was built as a strategic alternative route to the Trans-Siberian Railway, especially along the vulnerable sections close to the border with China. The BAM's costs were estimated at $14 billion. Due to climate change, the permafrost on which the tracks are built is at risk of melting which could mean that the railway would cease to be operational. 

Cape Kotelnikovsky -  famous for the hot springs. Water temperature reaches 81 ° C. This is the hottest spring on Lake Baikal. 

NYA-EVO Fjord 36 in Midnight Blue having a break at Lake Baikal Russia

Natalya Saprunova professional photographer and Graine de Photographe teacher taking a break at a boat caught in the ice at the port of Ust-Barguzin, a small town on the east shore of Lake Baikal.

For their trip the team was kitted out with the NYA-EVO Fjord 60-C and large RCI. This meant they could carry the below camera gear:

- 1 Nikon pro SLR camera

- 3 Nikon zoom lenses including a 70-200 mm

- 1 Nikon x1.7 focal converter

- 1 SONY hybrid box

- 2 SONY and LEICA lenses

- 1 Profoto A1 flash

- 7 spare batteries (1 profoto, 2 Nikon, 4 Sony)

- 1 Three Legged Thing tripod Billy 


Special thanks to the whole team of Graine de Photographe especially Natalya, Eric and Marc.

Also special thanks to Alain Quintin from MMF Pro for his efforts of connecting everyone.


Photos © Natalya Saprunova - Eric Legrand - Marc Lavaud

Graine de Photographe:

NYA-EVO distributor in France:


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