Baikal Dog Sledding
You can experience the overwhelming beauty of the Siberian taiga forest and Lake Baikal by covering several tens of kilometers of snowfields and transparent ice.
There is a breathtaking way to get around on Lake Baikal that allows you to not only travel significant distances quickly, but also at the same time feel perfect harmony with Siberian nature and hear the winter silence of the Baikal expanses.
The unique winter dog sledding expedition tour on the ice of the frozen lake will be unforgettable and you will get a lot of adrenaline. Communication with noble and friendly huskies will charge you with positive emotions.
What are they – Siberian huskies that make it possible to overcome such a long distance, bringing us joy and saving people’s lives? If you are not a lucky owner of this incredible dog, let’s get to know some interesting facts about huskies.
They are born to run
When the semi-nomadic Chukchi people of Siberia had to expand their hunting grounds some 3000 years ago, they bred the ideal sled dog. These dogs had endurance, high tolerance to cold, and the ability to survive on very little food. Siberian huskies are believed to be the closest to the original Chukchi dogs.
They have a secret weapon for keeping warmth
Huskies have a thick double coat that keeps them well insulated. Their undercoat is short and warm, while the overcoat is long and water-resistant. Their almond-shaped eyes allow them to squint to keep out snow. These dogs wrap their tails around their faces while sleeping. Their breath warms their tails and keeps their noses and faces protected from the cold.
Once huskies saved a small town in Alaska
In 1925, the children of Nome came down with diphtheria. The closest anti-toxin was 1000 miles away. The train couldn’t bring the medicine far enough, and mushers with teams of sled dogs had to take the package over the remaining 674 miles.
Twenty mushers and their sled dogs battled the bitter cold to get the medicine there safely. It took 127 hours to complete the mission. The final leg was completed by a black Siberian husky and its team. When their destination was reached, the dogs were treated as heroes and appeared in newspapers all over the country.
You might remember this story from the cartoon, Balto. You can see a statue of Balto in New York’s Central Park.
No one knows what it’s like
To be… the husky
behind blue eyes
Not so many dog breeds can boast piercing blue eyes. Some dogs like the Australian shepherd or Weimaraner have them because of the merle gene, which results in the loss of pigmentation. By the way, huskies can have bright eyes without that gene.
A secret code
It is known that husky dogs can cover distances of about 250 kilometers per day. A team of 6-8 huskies can reach a speed of 25-35 km/h. Heather Hasson of the National Research Institute for Human Genome believes that Siberian huskies have a unique genetic code that has evolved over many centuries.
Of all sled dogs, huskies demonstrate increased endurance, excellent speed and ability to work in a team. Heather keeps researching metabolic systems that play an important role in the quick recovery of dogs after a race. The same principle can be used for treating people who suffered serious injuries.
Husky dog sledding
We can read your mind. It is “I wish I could go dog sledding.” All your wishes may come true on the shores of Lake Baikal. You can try to ride the dogs yourself after learning some important rules:
- Husky won’t listen to you if you don’t show them that you are “the leader”. One of the ways to do so is to take all four paws and carefully turn the dog upside-down on a back. Try not to show that you are thrilled by dogs, you must seem powerfull to them!
- Huskies have their own hierarchy, dominant dogs won’t listen to the weaker and younger ones. Dogs in a team should be carefully selected, otherwise, they refuse to run or even fight with each other.
- If you are ruling the sled, always hold them, don’t release even if you have turned over, otherwise, you never catch your husky team that will run away together with the sled.
- Typical commands to move your dogs : Hike! All Right! Let’s Go!
Depending on your desire, you can choose either one-day trip along the Siberian taiga forest and over the ice of Lake Baikal or multi-day expeditions and Lake Baikal ice crossings. All tours start and finish in Listvyanka settlement on the shore of the lake (70 km away from Irkutsk), where the Riding Sports Center is located.
Irkutsk Urban Adventures can organize such a tour for you, it can be either a separate dog sledding activity or a full program with transfer to the lake, accommodation and guide service. If you are planning a big journey across Russia, visiting several cities, the ExploRussia team can make your trip unforgettable. Feel free to contact them and describe your preferences.
Hike! All Right! Let’s Go!
Written by Marina, local guide.