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Nature of Siberia: Lake Baikal

A chapter on the current state of this natural sanctuary and the planet's "blue eye"

Kilometers of pristine nature, the surface of crystal clear water merging with the horizon line, mountain ranges covered with taiga, rocky cliffs, transparent air... The nature of Baikal amazes with its power and grandeur, but at the same time uplifts and spiritualizes everyone who finds oneself on its shores.

The world-famous lake

The majestic Lake Baikal is located in the southern part of Eastern Siberia, on the border of the Republic of Buryatia and Irkutsk region, and if you look at it from a bird's-eye view, you can see that its outline resembles a young moon. It is the deepest lake in the world (maximum depth is 1,637 meters). And the oldest one. There are 3 nature reserves, 2 national parks, and 5 wildlife sanctuaries on the Baikal coast, which form a "protected necklace" around the lake. Since 1996, Baikal has been on UNESCO's list of World Natural Heritage Sites.

This unique source of fresh water holds 20% of the world's and 90% of Russia's reserves. The water here is incredibly clear, allowing you to see the stones on the lakebed even at a depth of 40 meters during the spring. In many respects, this level of purity can be attributed to the Baikal epicurean, a tiny planktonic crustacean measuring 1.5 mm in size. These creatures filter water through their tiny bodies, effectively purifying the lake.

Forever gorgeous and welcoming to guests

Baikal is exceptional and resembles a fairy-tale wonderland in every season. If you visit it during the summer, you will be welcomed by an endless expanse of serene turquoise waters intertwined with the lush greenery of pine forests and towering mountain peaks. During this time of the year, the wonders of Lake Baikal unveil their full splendor: Its picturesque landscapes are truly awe-inspiring, and the journey energizes you, enabling you to experience the legendary lake's full magnificence.

In winter, you will step into a genuine fairy tale in this place: Be amazed by the unique creations of nature, savor the tranquility interrupted only by the crisp, piercing crackle of Baikal's ice, and experience true serenity. Generally, the ice of Lake Baikal is a fascinating phenomenon. It captivates with its transparency and the formation of peculiar sculptures. It is incredibly photogenic and serves not only as a source of inspiration but also as a subject of scientific inquiry. Scientists are still endeavoring to comprehend the origin of the ice mounds found here, which take the shape of cones and can reach heights of 5–6 meters.

Unique natural laboratory

Baikal and its coastal territories stand out for their exceptional flora and fauna: More than 3,500 species of animals and plants inhabit both the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and their numbers continue to grow.

The Baikal Mountains are covered with dense coniferous forests, renowned for their cedars, larches, silver firs, pines, spruces, and birches. In the lowlands, you can find currant bushes, balsamic poplars, rhododendron dauricum, and low alder. Rhododendrons are regarded as a highlight in the local flora. The abundant blossoming of numerous pink flowers gives the impression of a thriving garden along the lake's shores.

Lake Baikal is home to a vast array of medicinal plants, including rhodiola rosea, bearberry, licorice, bergenia, sidebells wintergreen, anise, lingonberry, chamomile, wood ferns, and eagle fern. Thyme grows here on sandy areas and rocky slopes, which is valuable for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

Who lives on Lake Baikal?

Lake Baikal is home to more than 1,550 species of animals and 236 species of birds. The lake is renowned for its endemic species, many of which are listed in the Red Book, and they form the primary ecological treasures of the Baikal Biosphere Reserve.

Among the notable representatives of the lake's fauna, one can highlight the Arctic cisco, also known as omul, the most abundant commercial fish (often referred to as the "bread of Baikal"), and comephorus, known as the golomyankas, known for giving birth to live larvae. In total, there are approximately 50 species of fish in Lake Baikal.

One of the most fascinating inhabitants of the lake is the Baikal seal. It is a relic and a symbol of the lake, being the sole seal species in the world that inhabits freshwater environments. For scientists, it remains a mystery how these animals initially arrived at Lake Baikal. These adorable creatures have an incredible ability – they can pause their pregnancy. The Baikal seal is not only sociable but also intelligent. When it senses impending danger, it submerges itself in the water. Moreover, if it notices that all the spots on the rookery are taken, it deliberately smacks its flippers on the water to deter other seals and find a nearby spot to settle.

Baikal is a unique natural asset, but its ecosystem directly depends on human activity and needs protection. Siberian Wellness has been actively engaged in charitable activities for the conservation of the nation's primary freshwater resource since 2012. We firmly believe that by working together, we can protect this natural wonder and safeguard its resources for generations to come.