Lake Baikal is a deep rift valley towards the centre of Siberia. Now we have all heard of the terrible fate of prisoners and other dissidents being sent to Siberia. Siberia is actually a region rather than an actual place. It comes from the first settlers of the region who called their village Siber. If I was very verrrrrrrry naughty, I would quite like to be sent to Lake Baikal as it is beautiful with crisp clear water. The lake is the deepest fresh water lake in the world and was formed by movement of the earth thousands of years ago. It is 1632 metres at its deepest point and provides 80% of Russia’s water. It contains 20% of the world’s fresh water. Earthquakes still occur in this region and the lake is growing still.There are fresh water seals and 80 different fish species of which 33 are unique. There are two types of stone unique to the area, the purple Angara stone and the green Chersky. No prizes for guessing which colour earrings I bought.
As snow occurs in the area, we caught the chair lift up to the highest point to admire the lake before returning to the village of Listvyanka which is on one side of the lake. A magnificent sight, especially since there is brilliant sunshine today. During February and March, the lake freezes over ( it is Siberia with temperatures as low as minus 36), so there is winter sports as well as summer. Seals poke holes in the ice during winter so they can still fish. Summer is two months – June and July.
Within the village, there is an amazing Museum. This has an aquarium with seals, all 80 fish varieties and shrimp. There were the usual displays of the animals in the area. We were all intrigued by a predator called a Glutton which is the size of a medium dog. They have a seismograph that is recording any activity in the area and a display of the changes in the environment from prehistoric to the present. Even though our Russian is rusty…I mean non existent, the Museum was interesting with lots of visual displays.
From the Museum we went to the …….did you guess, yes the markets and then to lunch.
It was in a really cool restaurant with a nautical theme. They had these fabulous sculptures made from metal.Lunch was Omau salted, raw and cooked in breadcrumbs with tomato. It is the local fish.
Back by ferry to the other side of the lake to Port Baikal. The Trans Siberian railway does not use this part of the line any more except for tourists trains. Later tonight we will join the real, 1960, electric line to take us to our next stop Irkutsk.