In October 2007 I made the spontaneous decision to skinny-dip in Lake Baikal in Siberia. My wife and I had seen a man in the lake earlier, calmly treading water as if he was in a pool in the summertime. As soon as I hit the water, I knew it was no pool. Instead, I dove into a sea of thousands of pins and needles– at least that’s what it felt like.
Whether you’re skinny-dipping or wearing a full-on dry diving suit, I can only imagine what polar ice diving would be like. According to travelinggreener.com, Waterproof Expeditions and underwater photographer Franco Banfi have partnered to offer a 9-day ice diving expedition — called the Ultimate White Sea Photo Expedition — from March 11-19, 2011.
Lodging is within an ‘Arctic Lodge’, made up of warm and comfortable accommodations with twin rooms and private bathrooms. For a true Russian experience, visitors can use the banya — a steam bath, Russian-style. Each day you will be taken to the ice camp — complete with warm wooden huts — for two daily dives and in the evenings partake in Franco’s photo workshops. White beluga whales are available all year round to observe and swim with and there is a natural habitat near the dive site, separated from the open ocean by a net, in which belugas have been introduced.
Also included in the package is a husky dog sled tour. For those without ice diving certification, a PADI Ice Diving Course is available during the program. The price for this package in a comfortable double room is about $4500.
[Image: Lars Plougmann / Flickr]