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Baikal and South Siberia


Lake Baikal is the oldest by 25 million years, the deepest, at even more then a mile deep, of the world's lakes. It is about 636 km long and about 80 km wide. Located in Siberia near the Mongolian border, today, as in the past, Baikal remains a crossroads of cultures and trade routes of Europe and Asia.
Surrounded by mountains, forests, and wild rivers, the lake is an immense and breathtaking example of physical beauty. Lots of legends are about this magnificent place. The native people, Buryats, deified the lake, which they always treated as a holy yekha dalai (great sea). The 13th century Mongolian leader Genghis Khan is popularly supposed to have been born on Ol'khon Island where there is a revered shamanic shrine.


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Baikal contains a fifth of the world's surface fresh water. As a point of comparison, if you where to drain Lake Baikal, it would take all the Great Lakes of the United States to refill the empty basin! Baikal's water, long famous for its spiritual and medicinal qualities, is called "living water". The exceptional variety of endemic animals and plants, living nowhere else, make the lake one of the most biologically diverse on earth. Many animals live in the taiga surrounding the lake, including brown bear, musk and Siberian red deer, elk, reindeer and Siberian sable. Lake Baikal is home to the world's only freshwater seal, and the mystery of how the nerpa came to Baikal still baffles scientists. There are 53 species of fish, including endemic: sturgeon, omul, grayling, burbot, groundling, bullhead, pike, perch, and viviparous oilfish golumyanka and gobi.
There are three zapovedniks (strict nature reserves) and two national parks, stretched out on the shores of Baikal. You can see these unique lands, travelling on board and trekking along the mountainous shore. You will never forget the impression left after observing the exotic animals of the Taiga, travel around the Siberian cedar forest, covering the most part of the Baikal's shores. You can take pleasure in magnificent sunsets above the water surface, bathing in cold waters of Baikal, boat trips and horse riding. And, also, receive a huge charge of energy or gain a year of life by taking a dip in Baikal granted by the lake to each visitor.

You must see Baikal to be able to say what it is…

 
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