Trans Siberian Railroad: Lake Baikal, Russia

Trans Siberian Railroad: Lake Baikal, Russia

Trans Siberian Railroad: Lake Baikal, Russia

Nov 1-3, 2011

After a night in Irkutsk, we headed via shared taxi to this cool little town on the shores of Lake Baikal. Listvyanka (Листвянка) lies in a shallow valley with hills on both sides of the town. The terrain ascends as you move away from the lake, giving a great panoramic view from virtually everywhere in the town. And if you take the liberty to climb either of the hills you’ll be treated to an even better view of the town, the lake, and the mountains.

Listvyanka Sunset

The feel of the town is much like that of a small American ski village, except that Listvyanka caters to the Irkutsk vacationers in the summer when the lake is water (not ice.) Walk up north along the shore and you’ll find a couple small markets selling Omul, the fish that’s specific to Lake Baikal. The fish is quite good – it has a salmon taste but it’s a bit more buttery. Baikal is also home to freshwater seals called Nerpa. The water is so clear I’m told you can get vertigo when snorkeling, although in early November the water was already far too cold to try it. It’s also clean enough to drink from in some areas, although I personally didn’t drink straight from the lake. I did drink the tap water with no issues (the tap comes from Baikal.) The lake itself is the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and it’s slowly expanding. In winter time the ice is thick enough to drive on; in summer the water is (barely) warm enough to swim in although it’s still quite cold.

Listvyanka Night

Despite there not being much in the way of tourist attractions in Listvyanka, we found it quite easy to spend two full days. Walking around, taking in the natural beauty of the area, visiting the markets, and eating Omul took up most of our time. It was also a great place to simply relax and slow down the pace of the trip before heading to Omsk on the Trans Siberian.

Startrails Over Listvyanka

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