Lake Baikal Russia Travel Guide A Vagabond Life
Lake Baikal Russia Travel Guide
Lake Baikal is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Ever.
Lake Baikal is situated in south eastern Siberia, Russia and has some pretty impressive stats.
- Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing 22–23% of the world’s fresh surface water. It contains more water than the North American Great Lakes combined.
- Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest lake with a maximum depth of 1,642 metres.
- Lake Baikal is considered among the world’s clearest lakes
- Lake Baikal is considered the world’s oldest lakes at 25–30 million years.
- It is the seventh largest lake in the world by surface area.
- Lake Baikal completely freezes over in winter.
Lake Baikal is an easy trip from Irkutsk a stopping point for the Trans Siberian Railway. In 2019 the Russian government announced they would be restricting tourist numbers to the lake to try and protect the sensitive environment although what that actually means is yet to be determined.
Listvyanka is 70 kms from Irkutsk and at the mouth of the Angara River in Eastern Siberia Russia.
Listvyanka is the closest town on Lake Baikal to Irkutsk and is well and truly on the tourist bus trail. While this little seaside town gets packed with visitors during the warmer months it is worth a visit for a couple of days.
The Russian government has recently announced that it is limiting the number of tourists that can visit Lake Baikal due to poor waste management of hotels and guest houses causing pollution in Lake Baikal.
Olkhon Island is the destination for many travellers passing through Lake Baikal.
Olkhon Island features beautiful scenery and views of the lake. One can take the 7 hour journey by van to Cape Khoboy at the very northern tip of the island to (maybe) see the cute Baikal seals basking on the rocks or simply hire bikes and explore on your own.
Olkhon Island is 6 hours by mini van from Irkutsk.
Port Baikal looks a little rusty and unkempt from the river but looks can be deceptive and about 1km from the port is the village of Baranchiki which has lots of authentic Siberian village houses and cottages and is worth a wander around.
The Circum-Baikal Railway starts and ends here which runs on tracks that was once part of the Trans Siberian railway and has now been restored for tourism.
Port Baikal can be reached from the other side of the river from a dock near Listvyanka.
The Circum-Baikal Railway runs starts and ends in Port Baikal and runs on tracks that was once part of the Trans Siberian railway and has now been restored for tourism.
Today the Circum-Baikal Railway is an 89 kilometre stretch of railway line that runs between Slyudyanka -2 and Port Baikal passing through 39 tunnels along the way. The train stops for 20 minute periods for passengers to get off and explore the area.
Getting to Slyudyanka from Irkutsk takes about 2.5 hours by minivan, at Port Baikal a ferry will take you across the river to Listvyanka.
Hike Listvyanka To Bolshie Koty (Lake Baikal Trail)
The Lake Baikal Trail is currently a series of trails totalling 540 kilometres in total. It is the aim of the GBT organisers to complete 2000 kilometres around the lake of walking trails.
Bolshie Koty is a tiny quiet village with no road access that takes one straight back to the 19th century. You can catch a taxi-boat from Listvyanka or hike the 20 kilometres. If hiking make sure you take plenty of water and wear proper hiking shoes, it may also be necessary to stay the night in the village.
For more details on the Great Baikal Trail visit www.greatbaikaltrail.org
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