Day 18: August 8th
After a really nice and comfortable stay at the Marriott, we were ready to see Lake Baikal. The Lake is the oldest lake in the world at 25 Million years and is also the world’s deepest and most voluminous fresh water lake in the world. In terms of overall size, it is second only to the Caspian Sea..which is a salt water lake. It also makes up for 20% of the world’s supply of fresh water. Apparently, there have been a number if tests done and water from the lake ( I assume from the Northern parts that are not as populated) and be drunk without any kind of filtering or boiling. We didn’t try that! 🙂
There is only one river, Angara that flows out of the lake and around 336 other river and streams that flow into the lake. There are a number of small settlements around the lake and we were headed to Listvyanka..one of the larger settlements on the lake. Apart from this, what I found really interesting was that there are a number of species(over 300) that are endemic to the lake… They are only found here! How cool is that! One of the most popular types of fish is the Omul. It is similar to salmon and smoked omul is very popular around the lake. We tried that for lunch of course..along with some other fish from the lake. The lake is also home to one of three of the world’s fresh water seals. They are hard to spot along the southern shores where we were so we saw them in a nearby aquarium..they are really fat and ridiculously cute…it was hard to get a picture of them as they just wouldn’t stay still but you can take my word for it!:)
The weather still hadn’t cleared up from the day before and apparently there was a forest fire nearby that was adding to the haze and mist. So unfortunately, we didn’t get the visibility we would have liked. It was still beautiful when grey but I think this is a place we would come back to. It freezes in the winter and is even more stunning then as in some parts, the ice is transparent and because the water is so clear, you can see the fish underneath your feet.
We spent most of the day around the lake and finally made our way back to the train station. We had an over night train to Ulan Ude, which is a town on the other side of the lake. Ulan Ude is our last stop in Russia. From there, we split from the Trans-Siberian(which continues to Vladivostok) and get on the Trans-Mongolian to Ulan Baator.
My last thought as we were leaving Lake Baikal was that…. We have to come back! And I’m sure we will! Next time, we can fly though.:)