Our final stop in Russia was to Lake Baikal and Irkutsk. Lake Baikal is approximately 70km from Irkutsk and is especially popular with foreign tourists in the summer months as it home to the largest freshwater lake in the world.
The deepest point of the lake measures 1632 metres and there’s 23000 cubic km of water, which is one-fifth of the worlds fresh water supply. It is also the oldest lake in the world and is around 25 million years old. Researchers believe the lake was created by an earthquake as it lies on between 2 fault lines. They also believe in the future, it will become an ocean as it will split the continent into 2, but this will not happen in our lifetime. Surprisingly, it only has one river (Angara) which leads out of the lake, but there are over 300 rivers and streams which lead to it.
In the winter, there aren’t many activities to do so this was more of a relaxing stop. We did visit the local museum which contains information about the lake and the different species which lives there. There’s also a small aquarium which displays some of the fishes/crustacean that can only be found here. Lake Baikal is also home to the only freshwater seals in the world, of which 2 can be found in the aquarium.
Taltsy Wooden Museum
A short drive from the lake is the wooden museum. It is actually a replica life-sized village of how local people used to live. The village is built in the same wooden style. However, as everything is outside, we only managed to stay for 1.5 hours as we needed to thaw out. In the day, it was around -15 degrees.
We only had a day in Irkutsk before heading back on the train at night so we just walked around, but didn’t go in anywhere. The city is quite small but has a combination of modern and traditional buildings. The historical style buildings have been designed very nicely and are quite colourful.
See you all in Mongolia next time!