Imagine gazing through metre-thick ice sheet so clear you can behold the profound darkness of the world’s deepest and most ancient lake beneath. Or, envision yourself as a witness to one of the world’s oldest surviving shamanic rituals. All this is possible in and around Lake Baikal, the pearl of Siberia
. Located on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and known as the “Gateway to Lake Baikal” Irkutsk itself is a jumping off point for Siberia’s main attraction - Lake Baikal, 70km to the east.
Literally meaning “Nature Lake,” Lake Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an astounding 25 million years old, plummeting 1,642m down at its deepest point. Baikal’s depths hold over one-fifth of the world’s unfrozen surface freshwater. It’s so large, ancient Chinese travellers called it “The North Sea.”