14.10.11

Transsiberian, Transmongolian ... Lake Baikal


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!

13 comments:

Virginia said...

Oh Peter, each post gets better and better and I learn so much more about these places that I've never seen. I especially loved the colorful homes and the details but the ladies walking down the road.......oh there are too many to mention. Thank you for being so faithful to document you grand adventure for us.
V

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Though, I have in the past read about the lake, I find it mind boggling that a lake could be so deep!

One cannot possibly imagine the ecosystem that thrives in such depths!

Brilliant post!

claude said...

Très intéressant, typique et beau !

Adam said...

This is really exotic and fascinating now!

Back in my English teaching days, I taught a group of kids from a school near the Lake Baikal who had managed to make their way to England somehow. They hardly spoke a word of the language, but were some of the nicest kids I ever had the pleasure to have in my class.

Thérèse said...

Quel beau compte-rendu!
Fascinantes toutes ces maisons en couleurs et en dentelles. Pourvu que la nature reste telle quelle autour du lac.
Je me demande comment les oiseaux font pour rester debout sur la glace...

Simony said...

Peter, you are a poet with your images! So beautiful to see the world through your eyes.

Kate said...

So many images that reveal the life of the people in that area. It is very Russian Village! Loved the photos of the birds, esp. the small fluffy one. The humble little homes are brightly painted, aren't they? The church and the Russian icons were terrific images to add. Must have been quite an adventure.

Starman said...

Thanks for the information on the rift. Very interesting. I wish I could be there when that happens.

ALAIN said...

L'omul, vu comme ça, fait un peu penser à un animal en cours de dissection...et pourtant, c'est bon.

Paris Paul said...

Informative and beautiful! You've really got the best of both going on here, Peter.

Nathalie said...

Superbes couleurs d'automne, charmantes maisons peintes de couleurs vives, tout cela est plein de charme. Ravie d'apprendre que le lac n'est pas pollué, contrairement à beaucoup de lieux autrefois gérés par l'URSS.

Shammickite said...

Hello Peter! First I must welcome you back from your travels, and I'm happy that you had such a good holiday. I've been on vacation too, so I am only now looking at your photos of your trip, and I must say that I am really enjoying travelling through Russia with you. I can't imagine how deep the lake is... amazing! And the brightly painted houses are lovely. I enjoyed your photos of Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Ekaterinburg and Irkutsk too.... my cousin's wife is from Siberia near Irkutsk! So good to see the places through your eyes! I am looking forward to the next installments.

Maria O. Russell said...

The great ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev, was born on a train traveling along the shores of Lake Baikal, approaching Irkutsk in southeastern Siberia.

I´d give anything to be able to travel there!

Fascinating post, M. Peter.

Thank you so much.