Usually it’s foreigners who cavort at the world’s deepest lake in winter. But with many borders closed, Russians are arriving in droves to make TikTok videos and snap Instagram pictures.
ON LAKE BAIKAL, Russia — She drove 2,000 miles for this moment: Hanging out the sunroof of her white Lexus S.U.V. that glittered under the blinding sun, face to smartphone selfie camera, bass thumping, tires screeching, cutting doughnuts over the blue-black, white-veined ice.
“It’s for Instagram and TikTok,” said Gulnara Mikhailova, who drove two days and two nights to get to Lake Baikal with four friends from the remote Siberian city of Yakutsk.
It was about zero degrees Fahrenheit as Ms. Mikhailova, who works in real estate, put on a swimsuit, climbed up onto the roof of her car and, reclining, posed for pictures.
This is winter on the world’s deepest lake, 2021 Pandemic Edition.
The tour guides are calling it Russian Season. Usually, it is foreigners — many from nearby China — who flock to Siberia’s Lake Baikal this time of year to skate, bike, hike, run, drive, hover and ski over a stark expanse of ice and snow, while Russians escape the cold to Turkey or Thailand.
program begun last August offers $270 refunds on domestic leisure trips, including flights and hotel stays. It is one example of how Russia, which had one of the world’s highest coronavirus death tolls last year, has often prioritized the economy over public health during the pandemic.
said in December. “Developing domestic tourism is no less important.”
Recent months have seen a monumental crush of tourists at Black Sea beaches and Caucasus ski resorts. This winter, during what some call the “gender holiday” travel period around Defender of the Fatherland Day on Feb. 23 (when Russia celebrates men) and March 8 (International Women’s Day), Lake Baikal has been the place to be.
It is a distillation of tourism in the Instagram age.