SWIM : LAKE BAIKAL, OLKHON ISLAND RUSSIA with Marianna Jamadi of Nomadic Habit
  “There are legendary swims and swims made of legends and sometimes, if you are lucky, there are both. Enter Lake Baikal in Siberia, the largest freshwater lake in the world (and often thought to be the oldest). The lake is shrouded in mystery and thought to possess special healing powers. If one seeks the fountain of youth, a swim in Lake Baikal is believed to add five years to one’s life. The journey to the mythical waters is an arduous one, but well worth it. My boyfriend and I traveled the Trans-Siberian Railway, changing trains at Irkutsk, Russia to experience the magic of the world’s deepest lake.
To reach Lake Baikal one ventures to Olkhon Island, the epicenter of Shamanism in Siberia. The landscape is immaculate and profoundly soulful. We find a cove on the tip of Shaman Rock — a sacred place to local Buryat People and home to many ceremonies. In the shadow of Shaman Rock, I release my body to the spirits. The fountain of youth is … cold. It is August and summer water temperatures top off in the low 50’s Fahrenheit. I slowly make my way in. First my toes, my shins, my knees, my thighs, I get to my waist and I am going numb. As cold as I am, I feel as though I am melting into the mix. For a moment or two, standing with the water at my waist, divided at the surface, I am half in and half out and yet feel completely whole.
My torso and arms hover in preparation for the final submersion. I am hoping my heart can survive the dunk. I let go and I let Lake Baikal sink into me. My mind promptly tells me to rise to the surface- it’s freezing. I rise physically and then emotionally. I am feeling reborn. My body is sensitive to touch. My thoughts very clear. As I walk back to shore, I am aware of the motionlessness, the flat surface of the blue water- yet feel the waves. Lake Baikal is so still yet full of currents- movements of feelings. I leave the remains of whatever was released to a grasping tide. Surely the Fountain of Youth can absorb the energy.“
STAY: Nikita’s Homestead
~Marianna Jamadi
Marianna is a half Finnish, half Indonesian, California raised, New York based, world-bound photographer. She is currently traveling the world with her boyfriend and documenting the adventure on her blog, Nomadic-Habit.

February 2014