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About Baikal

Where is Lake Baikal?

Click to enlarge. Photo by Hafis Yahin. "This huge, old, beautiful lake, surrounded by wildness, is a world treasure, a world heritage. But right now the world needs to come to Lake Baikal's rescue."

-- David Brower

This is the oldest and deepest lake in the world-recently recognized as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. Situated in the southern steppes of Siberia, the lake is surrounded by mountain chains that form sheer walls thousands of feet high.

Indigenous people call Lake Baikal the "Sacred Sea" in admiration of its majestic beauty and size. Blessed with ample biodiversity, the lake itself provides habitat for more than 1,500 plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth. In fact, the world's only freshwater seal lives here, in the amazingly clear water of Baikal.

The main towns in the area are Severobaikalsk, Babushkin, Selenginsk, Baikalsk, Sludyanka. The territory of these five urban centres are excluded from the World Heritage property.

Lake Baikal is much visited by local, national and international tourists. There are several camping and tourists bases on the Lake shore. The more inhabited southern and eastern parts are better developed in terms of facilities and infrastructure. The mountain ranges of the Eastern Sayans and Barguzin attract climbers. Irkutsk and Ulan Ude provide services and facilities for tourists and visitors (Ministry of Environmental Protection, 1994b).

Why go to Baikal?

Click to enlarge. Photo by Hafis Yahin. Baikal holds twenty percent of the earth's fresh water and harbors more endemic species of plants and animals than any other lake in the world. Fed by 336 rivers and streams including the Angara, Barguzin, Selenga, Turka and Snezhnaya, the lake holds fifty species of fish including bullhead, sturgeon and omul.

The lake's surrounding wild mountains and rivers make the Lake Baikal region an ideal area for engaging in an array of outdoor pursuits including hiking, climbing, whitewater sports, skiing and nature photography.


Comprises a continental climate with profound fluctuations of both annual and daily temperatures. Mean daily temperatures range from -25 C in January to 18 C in July. However, Lake Baikal itself creates a microclimate within a 25km radius of its shores, distinct from the terrestrial part of the basin. Winter temperatures are less severe at -21 C, and summer temperatures are cooler (15 C). The surface of the Lake freezes during winter, with ice present until mid-June. The wind regime is comparable to those found in coastal areas: in winter, winds blow from the relatively cold land to the lake, and in summer, from the lake to the relatively warm land (Galaziy, 1993).



Contact Rashit Yahin for more information: