Lake Baikal-The pearl of Siberia

by Alicia Roberts,

Lake Baikal is a Russian word that means Nature Lake. Lake Baikal is situated in the southern part of Siberia, Russia. It is situated between Buryat Republic and Irkutsk Oblast.

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal

It was formed as a result of rift valley. It is the largest fresh water lake in the entire universe consisting about 20% of world’s unfrozen fresh water. It is the deepest lake in the world with a depth of 1,642m or 5387ft.It is one the clearest lake and the oldest lake-about 25million years old. It is known as the “Older Sister of Sister Lakes”.

Lake Baikal has a surface area of about 31,722 square kilometers or 12,248 square miles. It is home to about 1,700 plants and animals of which 2/3 of them do not exist anywhere else in the world. Buryat tribe lives along the eastern parts and rear goats, camels, sheep and cattle.  Average temperature is -2degrees with minimum of -19degree. Highest temperatures occur during summer at around 14 degrees.


lake Baikal winter season

lake Baikal winter season

The lake was known as North Sea by the Chinese. The lake was situated in Chinese territory until 17th Century when Russia extended its territory. Kurbat Ivanov was the 1st Russian to set foot on the shores of North Lake. A railway through Siberia was constructed in 1896-1902. The railway line consisted of 200 bridges and 33 tunnels.

During winter, the lake could be crossed on foot though there was risk of getting hypothermia as a result of untamed winds blowing. In 1920, military men crossing the lake died due to cold. Irkutsk Dam building raised water levels by 4 meters.

Wildlife and Vegetation

Lake Baikal is diverse in nature and is home to 1,085 plant species and 1,550 animal species. Epischura Baikalensis is endemic to Lake Baikal and counts up to 80-90% of the lake’s bio-mass. Omul is type of Salmonid. It is roasted, smoked and sold around the lake. Golomyanka-oil fish is found on depths of 200-500 meters below the lake. Other smaller animals include snails, amphipod crustaceans, and turbellarian worms among others.

Economy Concerns

Lake Baikal view from Sayan Mt

Lake Baikal view from Sayan Mt

The lake has drawn many investors who have invested in tourist Industry. In 2007, Russian government declared Baikal region-special economic zone. Baikal was declared as world’s heritage by UNESCO in 1996.Uranium plant worth $2.5 to be started in Baikal creating 2,000 jobs.

An NGO in conjunction with Russian Government built 100km trail along the beach to demonstrate about sustainable development.

Historical Traditions

Kurbat Ivanov was the 1st European to see Baikal Lake in 1643.Baikal Lake was referred by many as Baikal Sea. It was rumored that Christ visited the sea.

Folk Songs

Baikal Lake is celebrated in many Russian traditional songs. 2 songs from Japan glorify the lake. These songs were documented on 1811-1888 by Dmitriy P Davydov. The traditional religion says that Jesus visited the place and even ascended from here.

This is one of the best tourist attractions in the world that will leave your mouth agape and give you everlasting memories. It has a rich history and a good rating from UNESCO making it a must-visit place. In case of an emergency, please call the passport contact number for assistance. It is available 24/7 so that you remain safe.

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