Lake Baikal - A Winter Collideascope of Russia's Frozen Pearl

Written by Kristina Makeeva

“Lake Baikal in winter is unique and impressive! When we were planning our trip, we had no idea how wonderful, majestic, and enchanting it would be. We were enraptured by its beauty, so much so that we almost didn’t sleep all 3 days we were there.”

Lake Baikal is about 600km (373 miles) in length. The thickness of the ice on the top reaches 1.5-2 meters (5-6.5 feet)—at its thickest, it can tolerate vehicles of about 15 tonnes. But the ice isn’t just strong, it’s also gorgeous: displaying different patterns in different parts of the lake because the water freezes layer-by-layer. It was great to share techniques with other travellers on the Lake Baikal photo tour.

Lake Baikal ice photo tour, Russia

Discover what lies beneath Lake Baikal

Baikal’s ice is also the most transparent in the world! The Baikal photo tour gave us the chance to see can see everything, all the way to the bottom: fish, green stones, plants, and bluish gulf. The water in the lake is so clear that you can see various objects even as deep as 40 meters (130f).

Lake Baikal Photo
Frozen Lake Baikal

The origin and age of the lake are still the scientific debate, so just remember that Baikal – the largest reservoir of fresh water on the planet, and its depth is 1,642 meters (5,387 feet). The average depth of it is 744 meters (2,440 feet), which exceeds the maximum depth of many very deep lakes.  Only two lakes have a depth of over 1000 meters: Tanganyika (1,47 m/4,822f) and the Caspian Sea (1,025 m/3,362f).

Lake Baikal ice photo tour, Russia

Lake Baikal as your playground

In some spots, the ice is smooth as a mirror! You may see a perfect reflection. We saw lots of travellers on skates, bikes and sledges. Some of them go for a few hundred kilometres, sleeping in tents on the ice. Amazing place to be, very atmospheric!

Lake Baikal ice photo tour, Russia

Ice constantly cracks. The length of these cracks – 10-30 km, and width  2-3 m (7-10 feet), they occur annually, at about the same areas of the lake, followed by a loud crack that reminds of thunder or gunshot. Thanks to these cracks, the fish in the lake don’t die from the lack of oxygen, during long Siberian winters.

The legend of Lake Baikal

Angara – the only river that flows out of the lake, rather than flows into it, so it does not raise the level of the lake but lowers it. Because of this difference, the unique caves of icicles forms close to Olkhon island – the heart of Lake Baikal.

There is a legend that the Father of Baikal had 336 rivers – sons – and one daughter – Angara. All sons were flowing into Baikal to restock the water, but the daughter fell in love with Yenisei (one more river in Russia) and started to take everything from father’s water to her lover. In response, the father Baikal threw a huge rock at his daughter and cursed her. This rock is called Shaman-Stone, and it is situated in the springhead of Angara and is considered to be its beginning.

Lake Baikal ice photo tour, Russia

Baikal – is one of the most beautiful places on Earth,  if you did not know about it before – it’s the time to meet it!


About the author: Kristina Makeeva is a photographer and engineer based in Moscow, Russia. You can see more of her work on her website, Instagram, and 500px

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