Russia occupies one sixth of the land on our planet. Our country is so large that not all Russians can afford to visit at least few of the many wonderful places and monuments nature has to offer. Одним из этих удивительных уголков является сибирская “жемчужина” – озеро Байкал (one of these amazing places is Lake Baikal the “pearl of Siberia”).
The best way to get there, if you have enough free time, is to take the three days journey on the Trans-siberian train to Irkustk or Ulan-Ude. Or to take a flight to one of those cities. No matter your choice and how tired you will be upon your arrival, как только оказываешься на берегах этого красивейшего озера, овеянного древними легендами! (you will soon forget about it when you find yourself on the shores of this beautiful lake, filled with ancient legends!)
Baikal is extraordinarily beautiful. Краски здесь чисты и нежны: синее озеро, голубое небо, серые скалистые берега, красноватые стволы и зелёные вершины деревьев (the colours are pure and gentle: dark blue lake, clear blue sky, gray rocky shores, reddish stems and green tops of trees). The Lake Baikal is 636 km long. It takes a whole day on a boat from the southern to the northern coast. The lake is 79 kilometers large on its widest point, and it reaches a depth of 1620 meters. It is the deepest lake in the world.
Lake Baikal contains one fifth of the Earth’s freshwater that is to say about 23 thousand cubic kilometers. It means that Lake Baikal could be filled with the waters of the Baltic Sea and all the Great American Lakes together!
Baikal is fed by as many as three hundred and thirty inflowing rivers, but only one, the Angara River takes its source into the lake. Ангара отдаёт свои воды другой большой сибирской реке Енисею (Angara then flows into another great Siberian river Yenisei). The water of the lake is exceptionally transparent. The rays of the sun penetrate few tens of meters into it. That is why the lake is called the “Pearl of Siberia.” Compared with the surrounding area, Lake Baikal has milder winters and cooler summers. Baikal usually freezes in January, and starts to show its waters in May, but ice can also be found on its surface in summer. In winter, the ice thickness reaches a hundred centimeters.
The flora and fauna of Lake Baikal is rich and diverse. There are animals and plants that can’t be found anywhere else. Even though Baikal is a fresh water lake, there are some marine animals that live in it, as байкальская нерпа (the Baikal seal). One of the specialities of Baikal is a fish called Omul. It is served dry or cooked, a very tasty traditional treat in Siberia.
For many centuries the inhabitants on the shores of Lake Baikal survived only by hunting and fishing. But nowadays Baikal is in the center of industrial and economic problems. In the sixties there began the construction of a large pulp mill, whose pollution would destroy many animal and plant species. The plant was closed in 2008 but reopened two years later and the environmental conditions in lake have dramatically deteriorated since then.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is important that all of us try to defend the diversity and the beauties of this legendary lake.