Lake Baikal: Wikis


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Lake Baikal
Shaman-Stone of the Olkhon Island
Coordinates 53°30′N 108°12′E / 53.5°N 108.2°E / 53.5; 108.2Coordinates: 53°30′N 108°12′E / 53.5°N 108.2°E / 53.5; 108.2
Lake type Continental rift lake
Primary inflows Selenga, Chikoy, Khilok, Uda, Barguzin, Upper Angara
Primary outflows Angara
Catchment area 560,000 km2 (216,000 sq mi)
Basin countries Russia and Mongolia
Max. length 636 km (395 mi)
Max. width 79 km (49 mi)
Surface area 31,722 km2 (12,248 sq mi)[1]
Average depth 744.4 m (2,442 ft)[1]
Max. depth 1,642 m (5,387 ft)[1]
Water volume 23,615.39 km3 (5,700 cu mi)[1]
Residence time 330 years[2]
Shore length1 2,100 km (1,300 mi)
Surface elevation 455.5 m (1,494 ft)
Frozen January–May
Islands 27 (Olkhon)
Settlements Irkutsk
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Baikal (Russian: о́зеро Байка́л Ozero Baykal, pronounced [ˈozʲɪrə bʌjˈkɑl]; Buryat: Байгал нуур Baygal nuur, meaning "the rich lake"[3]) is the world's second most voluminous lake, after the Caspian Sea. It is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the world with an average depth of 744.4 m (2,442 ft) and contains a total of roughly 20 percent of the world's surface fresh water.[4][5] Located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia (between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast, near the city of Irkutsk), the body of water is also known as the "Pearl of Siberia".

At 1,642 metres (5,387 ft) (Baikal central part 53°14′59″N 108°05′11″E / 53.24972°N 108.08639°E / 53.24972; 108.08639),[1] Lake Baikal is the deepest,[6] and among the clearest[7] of all lakes in the world. At more than 25 million years old, Baikal is also the world's oldest lake.[8] Like Lake Tanganyika, Lake Baikal was formed as an ancient rift valley, having the typical long crescent shape with a surface area of 31,722 km2/12,248 sq mi, less than that of Lake Superior or Lake Victoria. Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world[9] and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.[10] It is also home to Buryat tribes who reside on the eastern side of Lake Baikal,[11][12] rearing goats, camels, cattle and sheep,[12] where the regional temperature varies from a minimum of -19°C (-2.2°F) in winter to maximum of 14°C (57.2°F) in summer.[13]


Geography and hydrography

A digital elevation model of Lake Baikal region.
The Yenisei River basin, Lake Baikal and the settlements of Dikson, Dudinka, Turukhansk, Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk.
Angara-Lake Baikal.ogg
Origin of the Angara River at Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal was known as the "North Sea" in historical Chinese texts. It was situated in the then Xiongnu territory. Very little was known to Europeans about the lake until the Russian expansion into the area in the 17th century. The first Russian explorer to reach Lake Baikal was Kurbat Ivanov in 1643.

The Trans-Siberian railway was built between 1896 and 1902. The scenic railway around the southwestern end of Lake Baikal required 200 bridges and 33 tunnels; until its completion, a train ferry transported railcars across the lake (from Port Baikal to Mysovaya) for a number of years.

As the railway was being built, a large hydrogeographical expedition headed by F.K. Drizhenko produced the first detailed atlas of the contours of Baikal's depths. Known as the "Galápagos of Russia", its age and isolation have produced some of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater fauna.[8]

Lake Baikal is in a rift valley, created by the Baikal Rift Zone, where the crust of the earth is pulling apart.[5] At 636 kilometres (395 mi) long and 79 kilometres (49 mi) wide, Lake Baikal has the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in Asia (31,722 km2/12,248 sq mi) and is the deepest lake in the world (1,642 m/5,387 ft). The bottom of the lake is 1,186.5 metres (3,893 ft) below sea level, but below this lies some 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) of sediment, placing the rift floor some 8–11 kilometres (more than 5 miles) below the surface: the deepest continental rift on Earth.[5] In geological terms, the rift is young and active—it widens about two cm per year. The fault zone is also seismically active; there are hot springs in the area and notable earthquakes every few years. The lake drains into the Angara tributary of the Yenisei.

Its age is estimated at 25–30 million years, making it one of the most ancient lakes in geological history. It is unique among large, high-latitude lakes, in that its sediments have not been scoured by overriding continental ice sheets. U.S. and Russian studies of core sediment in the 1990s provide a detailed record of climatic variation over the past 250,000 years. Longer and deeper sediment cores are expected in the near future. Lake Baikal is furthermore the only confined fresh water lake in which direct and indirect evidence of gas hydrates exists.[14][15][16]

The lake is completely surrounded by mountains. The Baikal Mountains on the north shore and the taiga are technically protected as a national park. It contains 27 islands; the largest, Olkhon, is 72 kilometres (45 mi) long and is the fourth-largest lake-bound island in the world. The lake is fed by as many as three hundred and thirty inflowing rivers.[4] The main ones draining directly into Baikal are the Selenga River, the Barguzin River, the Upper Angara River, the Turka River, the Sarma River and the Snezhnaya River. It is drained through a single outlet, the Angara River. hey

Despite its great depth, the lake's waters are well-mixed and well-oxygenated throughout the water column, compared to the stratification that occurs in such bodies of water as Lake Tanganyika and the Black Sea.

Wildlife and vegetation

Omul Fish at the Listvyanka market.
The peninsula of Svyatoy Nos.

Few other lakes can equal the extent of biodiversity present in Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal hosts 1,085 species of plants and 1,550 species and varieties of animals. More than 80% of the animals are endemic. Epischura baikalensis is endemic to Lake Baikal and the dominating zooplankton species there, making up 80 to 90 percent of total biomass.[17] The Baikal Seal or nerpa (Phoca sibirica) is found throughout Lake Baikal. It is one of only three entirely freshwater seal populations in the world, the other two being subspecies of Ringed Seal. Perhaps the most important local species is the omul (Coregonus autumnalis migratorius), a smallish endemic salmonid. It is caught, smoked and then sold widely in markets around the lake.

Of particular note are the two species of golomyanka or Baikal oil fish (Comephorus baicalensis and C. dybowskii). These long-finned, translucent fish normally live in depths of 200 to 500 metres (660–1,600 ft) and are the primary prey of the Baikal seal, representing the largest fish biomass in the lake. They are famous for disintegrating into a pool of oil and bones when exposed to sunlight. The Baikal grayling (Thymallus arcticus baicalensis), a fast swimming salmonid, popular among anglers and the Baikal sturgeon (Asipenser baerri baicalensis), are both important endemic species with commercial value. The lake also hosts rich endemic fauna of invertebrates. Among them turbellarian worms, snails and amphipod crustaceans are particularly diverse.

The watershed of Lake Baikal has numerous flora species represented. The Marsh thistle, Cirsium palustre, is found here at the eastern limit of its geographic range.[18]


Lake Baikal as seen from space, taken by the OrbView-2 satellite.
A circle of thin ice (dark in colour, with a diameter of about 4.4 kilometres); this is the focal point for ice break up in the very southern end of the lake.
"Miri Na Baykale" redirects here.

Several organizations are carrying out natural research projects on Lake Baikal. Most of them are governmental or associated with governmental organizations. The Baikalian Research Centre is an independent research organization carrying out environmental educational and research projects at Lake Baikal.[19]

In July 2008, Russia sent two small submersibles, Mir-1 and Mir-2, to descend 1,592 metres (5,223 ft) to the bottom of Lake Baikal to conduct geological and biological tests on its unique ecosystem. Although originally reported as being successful, they did not set a world record for the deepest fresh water dive, reaching a depth of only 1,580 metres (5,180 ft).[20] That record is currently held by Anatoly Sagalevich, at 1,637 metres (5,371 ft) (also in Lake Baikal aboard a Pisces submersible in 1990).[21][22] Russian scientist and federal politician, Artur Chilingarov, also joined the 60 dives.[23]

Russian exploration and conquest

Russian expansion into the Buryat area around Lake Baikal[24] in 1628-1658 was part of the Russian conquest of Siberia. It was done first by following the Angara River upstream from Yeniseysk (founded 1619) and later by moving south from the Lena River. Russians first heard of the Buryats in 1609 at Tomsk. In 1623, Demid Pyanda, the first Russian to reach the Lena, crossed from the upper Lena to the Angara and arrived at Yeniseysk. Vikhor Savin (1624) and Maksim Perfilyev (1626 and 1627-1628) explored Tungus country on the lower Angara. To the west, Krasnoyarsk on the upper Yenisei was founded in 1627. There were a number of ill-documented expeditions eastward from Krasnoyarsk. In 1628 Pyotr Beketov first encountered a group of Buryats and collected yasak from them at the future site of Bratsk. In 1629 Yakov Khripunov set off from Tomsk to find a rumored silver mine. His men soon began plundering both Russians and natives. They were joined by another band of rioters from Krasnoyarsk but left the Buryat country when they ran short of food. This made it difficult for other Russians to enter the area. In 1631 Maksim Perfilyev built an ostrog at Bratsk. The pacification was moderately successful, but in 1634 Bratsk was destroyed and its garrison killed. (The story goes that the Buryats did not know how to use firearms, so they decided to burn the muskets along with the dead Cossacks. The fire caused the guns to go off, killing a few people which made the Buryats think that the Russians were still fighting after they were dead.) In 1635 Bratsk was restored by a punitive expedition under Radukovskii. In 1638 it was besieged unsuccessfuly.

In 1638 Perfilyev crossed from the Angara over the Ilim portage to the Lena River and went downstream as far as Olyokminsk. Returning, he sailed up the Vitim River into the area east of Lake Baikal (1640) where he heard reports of the Amur country. In 1641 Verkholensk was founded on the upper Lena. In 1643 Kurbat Ivanov went further up the Lena and became the first Russian to see Lake Baikal and Olkhon Island. Half his party under Skorokhodov remained on the lake, reached the Upper Angara at its northern tip and wintered on the Barguzin River on the northeast side. In 1644 Ivan Pokhabov went up the Angara to Baikal, becoming perhaps the first Russian to use this route which is difficult because of the rapids. He crossed the lake and explored the lower Selenge River. About 1647 he repeated the trip, obtained guides and visited a 'Tsetsen Khan' near Ulan Bator. In 1648 Ivan Galkin built a ostrog on the Barguzin River which became a center for eastward expansion. In 1652 Vasily Kolesnikov reported from Barguzin that one could reach the Amur country by following the Selenga, Uda and Khilok Rivers to the future sites of Chita and Nerchinsk. In 1653 Pyotr Beketov took Kolesnikov's route to Lake Irgen west of Chita and that winter his man Urasov founded Nerchinsk. Next spring he tried to occupy Nerchensk, but was forced by his men to join Stephanov on the Amur. Nerchinsk was destroyed by the local Tungus but restored in 1658.

Baikal Deep Underwater Neutrino Telescope

Since 1993, neutrino research has been conducted at the Baikal Deep Underwater Neutrino Telescope (BDUNT). The Baikal Neutrino Telescope NT-200 is being deployed in Lake Baikal, 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) from shore at a depth of 1.1 kilometres (0.68 mi). It consists of 192 optical modules (OMs).[25]


Lake Baikal early April in Listvyanka

The lake, called "the Pearl of Siberia", drew investors from the tourist industry as energy revenues sparked an economic boom.[26] Viktor Grigorov's Grand Baikal in Irkutsk is one of the investors, who planned to build three hotels creating 570 jobs. In 2007, the Russian government declared the Baikal region a special economic zone. The popular resort of Listvyanka is home to the seven-story Hotel Mayak. Baikal was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. Rosatom plans to build a laboratory in Baikal, in conjunction with an international uranium plant and to invest $2.5bn in the region and create 2,000 jobs in the city of Angarsk.[27]


To reach Lake Baikal, there are mainly three starting points:


Irkutsk is on the Angara River which flows out from the southern tip of Lake Baikal. It has the international Irkutsk Airport and is a major stop on Trans-Siberian Railway (Moscow-Novosibirsk-Taishet-Irkutsk-Vladivostok) and of Trans-Siberian Highway.


Severobaikalsk on the northen tip of Lake Baikal is a relatively new town, on Baikal-Amur Mainline railway (Taishet-Severobaikalsk-Komsomolsk-na-Amure-Sovetskaya Gavan). Its airport is Nizhneangarsk Airport in its adjacent town of Nizhneangarsk.


Ulan-Ude is about 100 km east of Lake Baikal, but one can stop on the southern shore of the lake on the way to Irkutsk along Trans-Siberian Railway or Trans-Siberian Highway, or on the eastern shore on the way north to Novy Uoyan along a major road.

Environmental concerns

Baykalsk pulp and paper mill

Baykalsk Pulp and Paper Mill

Baykalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM) was constructed in 1966, directly on the shore line, bleaching paper with chlorine and discharging waste into Baikal. After decades of protest, the plant was closed in November 2008 due to unprofitableness.[28][29] In March 2009 the plant owner announced the paper mill would never reopen.[30] However, on 4 January 2010 the production was resumed. On 13 January 2010 Vladimir Putin introduced changes in the legislation legalising the operation of the mill, which brought about a wave of protests of ecologists and local residents.

Planned East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline

The lake in the winter, as seen from the tourist resort of Listvyanka. The ice is thick enough to support pedestrians and snowmobiles.
The lake in the summer, as seen from Bolshiye Koty on the southwest shore.

Russian oil pipelines state company Transneft[31] was planning to build a trunk pipeline that would have come within 800 meters (2,620 ft) of the lake shore in a zone of substantial seismic activity. Environmental activists in Russia,[32] Greenpeace, Baikal pipeline opposition[33] and local citizens[34] were strongly opposed to these plans, due to the possibility of an accidental oil spill that might cause significant damage to the environment. According to the Transneft's president, numerous meetings with ordinary citizens were held in towns along the route, especially in Irkutsk.[35] However, it was not until Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the company to consider an alternative route 40 kilometers (25 mi) to the north to avoid such ecological risks that Transneft agreed to alter its plans.[36] Transneft has since decided to move the pipeline away from Lake Baikal, so that it will not pass through any federal or republic natural reserves.[37][38] Work began on the pipeline, two days after President Putin agreed to changing the route away from Lake Baikal.[39]

Proposed nuclear plant

In 2006, the Russian Government announced plans to build the world's first International Uranium Enrichment Centre at an existing nuclear facility in Angarsk, 95 kilometres (59 mi) from the lake's shores. However, critics argue it would be a disaster for the region and are urging the Government to reconsider.[40]

After enrichment, only 10 percent of the uranium-derived radioactive material would be exported to international customers,[40] leaving 90 percent in the Lake Baikal region for storage. Uranium tailings contain radioactive and toxic materials, which if improperly stored are potentially dangerous to humans and can contaminate rivers and lakes.[40]

Historical traditions

An 1883 British map using the More Baikal (Baikal Sea) designation, rather than the conventional Ozero Baikal (Lake Baikal)

The first Russian to reach the lake is said to be Kurbat Ivanov in 1643[41]

In the past, the Baikal was respectfully referred to by many Russians as the "Baikal Sea" (Russian: Море Байкал, More Baikal), rather than merely "Lake Baikal" (Russian: Озеро Байкал, Ozero Baikal).[42] This usage is attested already on the late-17th century maps by Semyon Remezov.[43] To these days, the strait between the western shore of the Lake and the Olkhon Island is called Maloye More (Малое Море), i.e. "the Little Sea".

According to 19th century traveler T.W. Atkinson, locals in the Lake Baikal Region had the tradition that Christ visited the area. The following quote is found on page 385 of Atkinson's book[2] of his travels published in 1861:

The people have a tradition in connection with this region which they implicitly believe. They say "that Christ visited this part of Asia and ascended this summit, whence he looked down on all the region around. After blessing the country to the northward, he turned towards the south, and looking across the Baikal, he waved his hand, exclaiming 'Beyond this there is nothing.'" Thus they account for the sterility of Daouria, where it is said "no corn will grow."[44]

Folk songs

Lake Baikal has been sung in several Russian folk songs. Two of these songs are well known in Russia and its neighboring countries, such as Japan.

  • The Glorious Sea - Sacred Baikal
The Glorious Sea - Sacred Baikal (in Russian: Славное Mope, Священный Байкал is about a katorga fugitive. The lyrics as documented and edited in the 19th century by Dmitriy P. Davydov (1811-1888). [45] See "Barguzin River" for sample lyrics.
  • The Wanderer
The Wanderer (in Russian: Бродяга) is about a Decembrist of 1825 who had escaped the jail and sent himself to Transbaikalia. [46] The lyrics often heard were collected and edited in the 20th century by Y.K. Kondratyev:
Russian: По диким степъям Забайкалья,
In the wild steppes of Transbaikalia,
Russian: Где золото роют в горах,
Where they mine gold in the mountains,
Russian: Бродяга, ...
The wanderer, ...

The latter song was a secondary theme song for Soviet Russia's second color film, Ballad of Siberia (in Russian: Сказание о земле Сибирской).


  1. ^ a b c d e "A new bathymetric map of Lake Baikal. MORPHOMETRIC DATA. INTAS Project 99-1669.Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium; Consolidated Research Group on Marine Geosciences (CRG-MG), University of Barcelona, Spain; Limnological Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk, Russian Federation; State Science Research Navigation-Hydrographic Institute of the Ministry of Defense, St.Petersburg, Russian Federation.". Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  2. ^ "M.A. Grachev ON THE PRESENT STATE OF THE ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM OF LAKE BAIKAL". Lymnological Institute, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  3. ^ Dervla Murphy (2007) Silverland: A Winter Journey Beyond the Urals, London, John Murray, page 173
  4. ^ a b "Lake Baikal: the great blue eye of Siberia". Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  5. ^ a b c "The Oddities of Lake Baikal". Alaska Science Forum. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  6. ^ "Deepest Lake in the World". Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  7. ^ Jung, J.; Hojnowski, C., Jenkins, H., Ortiz, A., Brinkley, C., Cadish, L., Evans, A., Kissinger, P., Ordal, L., Osipova, S., Smith, A., Vredeveld, B., Hodge, T., Kohler, S., Rodenhouse, N. and Moore, M. (2004). "Diel vertical migration of zooplankton in Lake Baikal and its relationship to body size". in Smirnov, A.I.; Izmest'eva, L.R.. Ecosystems and Natural Resources of Mountain Regions. Proceedings of the first international symposium on Lake Baikal: The current state of the surface and underground hydrosphere in mountainous areas. "Nauka", Novosibirsk, Russia. pp. 131–140.  Accessed 2009-08-09.
  8. ^ a b Fact Sheet: Lake Baikal — A Touchstone for Global Change and Rift Studies, July 1993 (accessed December 04, 2007)
  9. ^ "Russia" Britannica Student Encyclopedia. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 3 July 2007 [1]
  10. ^ "Lake Baikal — World Heritage Site". World Heritage. Retrieved 2007-01-13. 
  11. ^ Hammer, M.; Karafet, T. (1995). "DNA & the peopling of Siberia". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  12. ^ a b Hudgins, S. (2003). The Other Side of Russia: A Slice of Life in Siberia and the Russian Far East. Texas A&M University Press.  Accessed 2009-08-09.
  13. ^ Fefelov, I.; Tupitsyn, I. (August 2004). "Waders of the Selenga delta, Lake Baikal, eastern Siberia". Wader Study Group Bulletin 104: 66–78. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  14. ^ Kuzmin, M.I., et al., 1998. First find of gas hydrates in sediments of Lake Baikal. Doklady Adademii Nauk, 362: 541–543 (in Russian).
  15. ^ Vanneste, M., et al., 2001. Multi-frequency seismic study of gas hydrate-bearing sediments in Lake Baikal, Siberia. Marine Geology, 172, 1–21.
  16. ^ Van Rensbergen, P., et al., 2002. Sub-lacustrine mud volcanoes and cold seeps caused by dissociation of gas hydrates in Lake Baikal. Geology, 30(7), 631–634.
  17. ^ Зоопланктон в экосистеме озера Байкал / О Байкале.ру — Байкал. Научно и популярно
  18. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Marsh Thistle: Cirsium palustre,, ed. N. Strömberg
  19. ^ "Baikalian Research Centre (ANO) (in Russian)". Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Russian news reports (29 July 2008). "Russia claims world-record dive" (web). "Russian scientists say they have broken the world record for the deepest dive in a body of fresh water, plumbing the depths of Lake Baikal in Siberia.". Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Submarines to plumb deepest lake
  24. ^ George V. Lantzeff and Richard A. Price, 'Eastward to Empire',1973
  25. ^ "Baikal Lake Neutrino Telescope". Baikalweb. 2005-01-06. Retrieved July 30, 2008. 
  26. ^ Esslemont, Tom (2007-09-07). ""Pearl of Siberia" draws investors". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  27. ^ BBC NEWS, 'Pearl of Siberia' draws investors
  28. ^ Russia Water Pollution
  29. ^ Sacred Land Film Project, Lake Baikal
  30. ^
  31. ^ Transneft "Transneft". Transneft. Transneft. Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  32. ^ "Baikal Environmental Wave". Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  33. ^ "Baikal pipeline". Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  34. ^ "The Right to Know: Irkutsk Citizens Want to be Consulted". Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  35. ^ "Тема: [ENWL Власти Иркутской обл. выступили против прокладки нефтепровода к Тихому океану"]. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  36. ^ "Putin orders oil pipeline shifted". BBCNews. April 26 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  37. ^ "Transneft charged with Siberia-Pacific pipeline construction". Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  38. ^ "New route". Transneft Press Center. Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  39. ^ "Work starts on Russian pipeline". BBC News. April 28 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  40. ^ a b c Saving the Sacred Sea: Russian nuclear plant threatens ancient lake
  41. ^ Raymond H. Fisher, The Voyage of Semon Dezhnev, The Haklyut Society, 1981, page 246,
  42. ^ Tooke, William (1800). View of the Russian empire during the reign of Catharine the Second, and to the close of the eighteenth century. Printed by A. Strahan, for T. N. Longman and O. Rees. p. 203. 
  43. ^ Bagrov, L (1964). "Semyon Remezov - a Siberian cartographer". in International Society for the History of Cartography. Imago mundi. 1. Brill Archive. p. 115. 
  44. ^ Travels in the regions of the upper and lower Amoor
  45. ^ The Glorious Sea, Sacred Baikal
  46. ^ The wanderer (Russian)

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Russia : Siberia : Eastern Siberia : Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal in the morning
Lake Baikal in the morning

Lake Baikal is in Russia. It is the biggest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Along the shores of Lake Baikal in the autumn
Along the shores of Lake Baikal in the autumn

The lake is located in Eastern Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and Buryatia to the southeast. It is the planet's deepest and oldest lake, as well as its largest body of freshwater, containing over one fifth of the world's supply.

  • Baikal Seal

Get in

By air

The nearest airport is in Irkutsk, which can be reached from either Domodedovo or Sheremetyevo 1 in Moscow.

By train

The Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway both reach Lake Baikal.

By bus

Buses leave from Irkutsk station throughout the day. The ride is about an hour and a half, with several stops along the way, and ends in the small town of Listvyanka, at the shores of the lake.

Get around

From Listvyanka you can go by boat to the Bolshoie Koty, in the hearth of Baykal national park. One way costs 180 rubles, but you cannot buy tickets in advance (only in Irkutsk, I think). First boat goes from Listvyanka at 10, last at 16 o'clock. From there you can get by boat at 18.00 or by foot by Baykal tourist trail. It is around 18 kilometres and the most of the path goes around the shore of a lake. From Bolshoie Koty you can go to the Irkutsk by the same boat. It costs 360 rubles (summer 2008).

From Listvyanka you can go to the Port Baykal that lies on the opposite side of river Angara. Boat costs 34 rubles and goes from the place just under the Baykal limnological museum. It takes around 5 minutes to get there. However it is recommended to go the other way, from Port Baykal to Listvyanka.

To Port Baykal you can go by train as well. It goes from Sludyanka at the southern corner of the lake. It takes around 4 to 6 hours, since the train is really slow. But you have time to look around, because the railway is going by the shore of the lake. It costs 46 rubles. It is so slow because it is the old Baykal railroad was built around 100 years ago.

  • Olkhon. The largest island on the lake.


Souvenirs are sold near the omul sellers (see below), and tend to be cheaper than in other Russian cities. There are several boats at the main dock who take on tourists when not fishing. The prices are negotiable, try to find other tourists who want to ride and get cheaper prices by being in a large group. Sometimes a kid with broken English acts as an intermediary for the price haggling.


The smoked Omul sold by several fish sellers on the edge of the lake is wonderful, and there is a restaurant on the lake's edge with good fish, along with several bars and small groceries. Everything in Listvyanka is within walking distance, including a small post office.


Lake-side towns:


Get out

Irkutsk is the biggest city nearby, but the BAM and the Trans-Siberian can take you from one side of the country to the other.

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|300px|Lake Baikal]] Lake Baikal is a big lake in Siberia. Siberia is part of Russia. Lake Baikal is the biggest fresh water reservoir in the world. The lake is near Irkutsk. It is about 636 km long, between 20 km and 80 km wide, and at its deepest point it is 1,700 meter deep. With this depth it is the deepest lake on Earth.[1][2]

The lake is very special. There are fish in the lake that only exist here and nowhere else in the world. One such fish is called Omul. It is a kind of trout.


Omul Fish on Listyanka market

Lake Baikal hosts over 1000 species of plants[3] and 1550 species and varieties of animals. Over 60% of animals are endemic; that means of 52 species of fish 27 are endemic.

Of note is an endemic subspecies of the omul fish (Coregonus autumnalis migratorius). It is fished, smoked, and sold on all markets around the lake. For many travellers on the Trans-Siberian railway, purchasing smoked omul is one of the highlights of the long journey.

Baikal also hosts a species of seals, Baikal seal or nerpa.

Bears and deer can be watched and hunted by Baikal coasts.


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