About Lake Baikal

Baikal in numbers

Age: 25mln years old
Depth: 1637 m
Square: 31500 sq. km
Length: 636 km
Width: 79.5 – 80 km
Coastline length: 2000 km
Water mass volume: 23000 km cube
Water: 20% of world's fresh water reserve
            and 90% of Russia's fresh water reserve
Capes: 174
Islands: 26
Inflowing rivers: 336
Flora: more than 1000 species
Fauna: more than 2630 species

Name origin

Long time ago there were many nations living on Lake Baikal's territory, and each nation called the lake differently. In the Chronicles of the year 110 BC the Chinese called it "Baykhai" ("northern sea"), the Mongols – Tenghis or Tenghis-dalai, the Buryat-Mongols – Baigaal-Dalai ("big basin"), the ancient people of Siberia, the Evenks – Lamu ("sea"). After the first expedition to the lake in 1643 headed by Kurbat Ivanov, the Russians began to use the Buryat-Mongol name Baigaal or Baigaal-Dalai. However, they changed the letter "g" specific to the Buryat language to a more Russian-like "k", which created the word "Baikal". The name Baigal was first mentioned in the Mongolian chronicle of the beginning of the 17th century called "Shara Tudzhi" (Yellow chronicle).

The most popular theory is that "Baikal" is a Turkic word, where "Bai" stands for "rich", and "Kul" stands for "lake", which makes the translation sound like "rich lake".

Baikal Water

Baikal is the cleanest natural reserve of fresh water in the world. The Baikal water has a small amount of organic impurities, and it's rich with oxygen. Active vertical water exchange before freezing and after the lake is freed of ice is conductive to the overplus of oxygen. Tasty water usually contains not less than 8mg of oxygen in a liter; the Baikal water has 10-12mg of oxygen in a liter. Baikal water salination is 96,4 mg/l, whereas in most of the lakes it's more than 400mg/l. Low Baikal water salination fits perfectly to the human organism.

Pure Baikal water is full of deep-water fauna. Except for Baikal, there is no such a fresh water lake in the world that has deep-water dwellers. For instance, in the Lake Tanganyika it’s only the top layer of water that has dwellers, and its bottom is azoic.

The Baikal water is cold. The warmest temperature of the lake is in the middle of August: 8-10C (46-50F). The Chivyrkuysky Bay, the Proval Bay and the Small Sea area have the warmest temperature of 18-22C (64-71F).

As scientists say, a drop of water from Baikal tributaries stays in Baikal for many years. For the northern depression of Baikal it takes 225 years to make an exchange between different waters.

In spring when the lake is freed of ice, the transparency of the water reaches 40m.

Baikal Winds

It’s very rare when Lake Baikal is still. Different kinds of winds rule on the territory of Baikal. The speed of wind can get up to 15m/sec. The windiest period is from October to December. The most famous and frequent winds are VERKHOVIK, BARGUZIN, KULTUK and SARMA.

VERKHOVIK blows from the north down the valley of the river Verhnyaya Angara. When it’s verkhovik blowing, the weather seems to be quite good, and is not followed by strong wind gusts. In the end of November – beginning of December verkhovik brings to Baikal waves that are 4-6 meters high. This wind can last for 10 days.

BARGUZIN is a strong wind that blows from the central part of the Lake, the Barguzin valley, through the length and breadth of Lake Baikal. Barguzin doesn’t last as long as verkhovik and brings good weather after all.

KULTUK blows from the southern part of Lake Baikal up along the shores. Kultuk brings heavy storms and rainy weather. This wind doesn’t last long and mostly it occurs in autumn.

SARMA is the strongest and the scariest wind on Lake Baikal. It comes from the valley of the river Sarma that flows into the Small Sea. The speed of the wind can reach 40m/sec which can lift roofs off of the houses. In summer it can stop as unexpectedly as it started; in autumn sarma can keep blowing for 24 hours, but the hardest time is only the first hour.

Best time for coming to Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal is very beautiful in all seasons. However the time you choose to come will depend on what you are looking for and are expecting to see.

If you want to swim, sunbathe and enjoy the vistas, then summer is when you should join us. In July and especially August the water warms up to above 15°C (59°F). In the Peschanaya Bay and some places on Olkhon Island it even reaches in excess of 20°C (68°F).

If you like watching seasonal change, then autumn is the best time to come. It is considered to be especially attractive time for artistic people, because of Baikal's frequent weather changes, autumnal air, and beautiful colours.

If you like extreme adventures and can cope with a multitude of diffeing experiences, then coming to Lake Baikal in winter will definitely fire your spirit. For almost five months a year Lake Baikal is covered with ice. Lake Baikal is not just a cold wasteland in winter, the icy tundra is beautiful. The lake starts to freeze in January and is freed of ice only in May. Lake Baikal's ice attire, its beauty, transparency and majestic symphony of “ice music” make it very attractive for every onlooker. The ice of the lake can get as thick as 150 cm, which allows people to ice-skate on it and drive over it to places on the opposite shore.

March is the best month for seeing winter Baikal. The ice is still frozen and you can still see right through it. It is safe to walk on it, still you can already hear it crack. The biggest plus of this time is that it's getting warm enough to spend much time outside. In the end of May the temperature gets above 24°C (75°F), which is almost the same as in summer. The lake is not yet crowded with tourists, so you can still enjoy your privacy on its shore.


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