Siberia’s Lake Baikal

My previous post was about taking a trip on the fabled Trans Siberian Railway. My travel partner and I didn’t go all the way across to Vladivostok, though — we decided to get off of the train in Irkutsk, Russia. We wanted to spend a few days viewing the world’s oldest and deepest lake, which is also on UNESCO’s World Heritage list — Lake Baikal.

We had contacted the place we were staying and arranged to hire a private driver (we arrived too late in the evening to use public transportation), and he picked us up at the train station and drove us about an hour south to Listvyanka. As it was getting darker, we caught our first glimpses of the lake. Small, tree-covered mountains nestled the shoreline, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit my first reaction: “this doesn’t really look that much different from Lake Guntersville in Alabama.”

Then we came around the curve in the road. Even in the fading light, the snow-capped mountains were stunning. No, I thought, this is not like Lake Guntersville. I took this picture shortly after I got settled into my room that night.

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Here are several daylight photos of the lake and its surroundings. I took these during the two full days I was there.

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Listvyanka is a small community, but it’s a great place to chill out (perhaps literally, depending on the time of year). It also has the Baikal Museum …

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… and access to the Great Baikal Trail.

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I’ll wrap up with a few photos of Listvyanka itself. It was obvious that a lot of new construction is happening here, and it’s geared toward tourism. Several new hotel-like accommodations are being built or refurbished.

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When it was time to leave, we took a small bus (a minivan, really) back to Irkutsk to begin the next part of our journey on the Trans Mongolian Railway.

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