From Irkutsk (see previous post) we took a small local bus the about 70 km (45 miles) to Listvyanka on the southern shore of Lake Baikal. The weather was a bit colder and greyer than what we would have wished and the high mountains reaching some 2600 m (8500 ft) in the background were not easy to distinguish… but we had also some nice moments of sun. We used the grey moments to visit some of the many valleys and torrents that lead to the lake.
Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest and deepest (down to about 1600 m = 5400 ft) lake and also among the clearest ones. If you want to make the tour (hardly any roads) it would mean some 2100 km (1300 miles). It contains about 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water. Lake Baikal is a rift valley. Below the lake there are some 7 km (4.3 miles) of sediments, meaning that the rift floor is some 8-11 km (5-7 miles) below the surface, making it the world’s deepest rift, widening some 2 cm (0.8 in) each year. One day, Euroasia will be split in two..
The Lake is covered by ice some five months per year.
The biodiversity is enormous with some 1000 species of plants and some 1500 varieties of animals, whereof 80% endemic, unique. This would include freshwater seals and the salmonid Omul fish, which we with pleasure tasted a number of times.
… and of course, surrounded by autumn colours, it’s just beautiful!