Lake Baikal: Pearl of Siberia

Nestled in south-east Siberia, Lake Baikal is a marveling blue freshwater lake that is the deepest on the planet besides being the largest fresh water reservoir. Among the tourists, it is known for its distinct water clarity as well as and diversity of flora and fauna. One more significance is that Lake Baikal is the vital sacred site for the Asians who pray to the lake and have faith in its power. This is evident via its coastal unique carvings as well as sections of the ritual buildings. I would recommend visiting this freshwater pool while you are in a Trans-Siberian train. Rather than sitting in for six days for Moscow, get down at Irkutsk from where it is easy to reach the lake.

Lake Baikal

‘Baikal’ is derived from the Turk language wherein ‘bai’ stands for ‘wealthy’ and ‘kal’ means ‘lake’ symbolically revealing its feature of being wealthy – The lake is the venue of 20% surface fresh water in the world along with endemic flora as well as fauna. The locals will say ‘Welcome to the sea at elevation’! The lake is called as sea because of its rapid growth annually due to which it is regarded as the starting point of a future ocean.

It is the south-western zone of the Lake Baikal that is the touristiest! There are many highlights at the lake telling you why one should come here for a visit – fresh air, rocky mountains, tasty water from the lake, hospitable people, great forests, biking, trekking, diving, kayaking, and camping. To add chilling experiences, winter brings in skiing, dog-sledging, and snowshoeing. For cultural fans, there are two cultures to explore namely: Asian Buryat and Siberian Russian. The former one is ancient boasting a holy approach towards nature as well as practicing traditional shamanism; while the Siberian Russians acclaim themselves to be from the traditional Siberian culture.

While you are on your trip to the lake, do explore the biggest island of the lake – lkhon that is the largest lake-bound atoll on Earth. Tourists love its scenic landscapes, vertical capes, and sandy bays. This island is well worth a visit from May to October (June to August being the peak times) when a three day trip will cost USD$395 per person. On the island, the main highlights are its five cultural hamlets of Buryats, over 100 archaeological objects, and holy places. Above all, you are completely safe from any dangerous beast, midges, and mosquitos.

Lake Baikal in winter

Tourist seasons

15 June to 15 August (summer) is the peak season due to warn climate. Tourists love to explore the Olkhon islandas well as the Chivyrkuiskiy bay near Ust-Barguzin. The bays at night convert into tent towns. From 15 November to 15 April (winter), Lake Baikal freezes, which then is snowy land at the end of January. However, for winter sports, March is ideal.

Accommodations

Admiral Hostel – Irkutsk city – for 500 Rubles
Wooden Cabin Art Gallery – Listvyanka – for 750 Rubles
Wooden Hotel – Taiga Slope – from 2250 Rubles
Guest House – Khuzir hamlet on the Olkhon island – for 500 Rubles
Baikaler Hostel – Irkutsk – for 500 rubles