Into the unknown at Russia’s Lake Baikal

It’s -20°C and the wind in Russia’s Siberia blows away all heat. Lake Baikal is frozen, but it stays clear and icy blue in winter.

I’m keen on the chilly wind on this barren ice lake although… maybe it’s the vodka. In reality, Lake Baikal seems to be like she may use some vodka herself!

The extraordinarily chilly climate here’s what makes this lake, which is the scale of Taiwan or Belgium, freeze quickly. As many as 27 small islands on the lake function strange-looking ice sculptures; it’s as in the event that they grew to become frozen the second they emerged from the water.

Similar to how life is much from good, there are blemishes on the ice however these simply make every little thing extra attention-grabbing. The quite a few fissures on the ice floor kind irregular traces that make up stunning patterns.

Additionally, the thick layer of ice (about 1m to 2m) traps air bubbles of assorted sizes and styles. Some appear like fluffy clouds, whereas others bear the shapes of mushrooms and flowers. The gildings of life undoubtedly require plenty of creativeness. I can’t assist however admire nature’s ingenuity, all the time bringing essentially the most direct and true expertise unexpectedly.

The place is so vibrant – white, blue, inexperienced and even pink. Fortunately, my Android cellphone is ready to seize all the colors and particular moments on this brutal winter.

The scenery by the shores of Lake Baikal never gets boring. The surroundings by the shores of Lake Baikal by no means will get boring.

Lake Baikal solely turns into totally frozen stable in February (typically it extends by April), the place temperatures can attain as little as -50°C in Siberia. Siberia has a detailed relationship with the historical past of human evolution. For 1000’s of years, folks have chosen to stay on this pure habitat and are inter-dependent on the 4 seasons of Baikal, which is formed like a crescent moon. The 500,000 Mongolic Russian Buryats close to Lake Baikal are essentially the most admirable folks as they nonetheless maintain to their historical promise of holding the lake protected.

I’ve seen Lake Baikal in autumn twice throughout my 9,288km journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway (the lake is on the 4,096km level). I puzzled if that was the place the diplomat Su Wu as soon as herded sheep in the course of the Western Han Dynasty some 2,200 years in the past. I listened to Li Jian’s Baikal Lake music in autumn however I felt like I used to be lacking one thing. I yearned for a rendezvous with the lake throughout winter.

Fortunately, I used to be capable of return throughout winter. On the slopes of the one riverbank outlet, Listyanka, I gazed upon the non-frozen confluence of Lake Baikal and Angara River. I ponder why this 30m-wide space had not turned to ice. Our Russian information, Natalia, is a geography trainer by career so she defined the phenomenon to us.

   The writer playing it cool and calm on Lake Baikal.The author enjoying it cool and calm on Lake Baikal.

Natalia additionally instructed us how Lake Baikal got here to be. In keeping with her, 25 million years in the past, between the Ice Age and Stone Age, the Earth’s steady continental rifting, breaks and earthquakes someway “forcefully” created this Siberian plate of mountains, rivers, lakes and extra.

After listening to her tales, we piled onto a wind-powered hovercraft to discover the lake even additional. The hovercraft glided 200km north gracefully like an ice-skater. The temperatures and landscapes stored altering as we moved. Once we stopped, the Buryat driver pointed to a white tower on a mountain and stated to us, “That’s our religion, the Shaman Temple.” The Buryats are free-thinking folks who stay on the boundless grasslands and are very hospitable.

To get great views of the lake, just board a Khivus hovercraft.To get nice views of the lake, simply board a Khivus hovercraft.

Within the subsequent 100km part of the lake, we hopped on to a different vehicle – an outdated, modified Soviet-style van that was capable of transfer at ice-breaking velocity. It was thrilling! And someway, we by no means actually had any worry of the ice crumbling under us…

The travel group's Buryat driver whipped up a special Baikal meal on the ice, Omul fish soup. The journey group’s Buryat driver whipped up a particular Baikal meal on the ice, Omul fish soup.We stopped once more and this time, our Buryat driver cooked us a easy meal on the ice. He managed to whip us up a Baikal specialty: Omul fish soup. As we took a mouthful of the recent soup, our mouth didn’t burn because the biting chilly helps cool issues down shortly.

After one other shot of vodka, I took off to fortunately roll across the ice!

Enjoyable details

Lake Baikal measures 636km from north to south and 20km to 80km, east to west. It’s the world’s deepest lake with a depth of 1,646m. Additionally it is the world’s largest freshwater lake, accounting for 25% of the Earth’s water storage.

There are 336 rivers flowing into the lake however it’s drained by just one, the Angara River. There are 27 islands on the lake, with 1,850 creatures and 850 underwater vegetation.

The lake begins to freeze from January to April. In 1996, Lake Baikal was listed as a World Heritage Web site.

The views expressed are solely the author’s personal.

Leesan, the founding father of Apple Holidays, has travelled to 127 international locations, six continents and enjoys sharing his journey tales and insights. He has additionally authored two books.

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