Lake Baikal is sited in central Siberia, not far from Mongolia is the world’s oldest, deepest and largest lake in terms of volume. Sometimes called the “Pearl of Siberia” or the “Sacred Sea,” this crescent-shaped lake is 636 kilometers (395 miles) long, three to 9 kilometers (two to 46 miles) wide, 5,371 feet deep at its deepest point and occupies 5,500 cubic miles, more than Lake Superior, which has the largest surface area of any lake (31,800 square miles, 80,290 square kilometers). Lake Baikal is renowned as one of the most beautiful places in all of Russia. Gazing across it has been compared to viewing the Grand Canyon. Picturesque cliffs line the western shore, muskrat marches are found in the north and mountains surround nearly the entire lake.

Lake Baikal is well-known for its resilient winds and impulsive weather. Fisherman on the lake talk about moving out to sea in the spring when winds of up to 100 miles per hour sweep down from the west and build waves large enough to capsize boats.  People have this opinion that Lake Baikal is at is most beautiful in the winter. The first snows begin in November when the marshes in the north begin freezing. Between February and April the entire lake is frozen to a thickness of between one and six meters, thick enough to support fully loaded truck convoys to remote villages that can’t be reached any other way. The water of Lake Baikal is well-known for having the blue clearest water in the world.

The longest route which is also the easiest of all runs from Listvyanka to Bolshoye Goloustnoye which is a small town about 34 miles north along the lake. The hike typically is completed in 3 days and is characterized by swift transitions between steep coastal bluffs, sandy beach and deep forest. There are guesthouses or homestays available at little villages in the evenings, and you can even get back to Irkutsk by boat or bus from trail’s end in Bolshoye Goloustnoye.

Interesting fact about lake: The lake’s flourishing marine life is all surviving to hydrothermal vents inside the lake. These vents act as entryways for cold water to enter cracks in the Earth’s crust toward the magma deep inside the surface. When the water reemerges through the vents, it is much hotter after its contact with the magma, and brings along with it the ground’s rich minerals.