People who live near Lake Baikal call it the “Sea of Baikal.” Indeed, when you stand at the water’s edge and can’t see the opposite shore – you really start to think that the locals are right.
Baikal is the largest lake by volume in the world
Except for the well-known fact that Baikal is the largest lake by volume in the world, there are at least ten other fantastic points of interest about this unique place:
- Besides holding more water than any other, Baikal is also the oldest lake on the planet – about 25 million years old! It is almost impossible for humans to imagine this age – even the Egyptian pyramids were built just 4.5 thousand years ago.
- The Lake is located on a tectonic fault – which is why it is so deep. The water of Baikal is in a chasm 1.5 km deep. For better visualization of this number just imagine a 650-story building placed under the water. Or you could put five Eiffel Towers on top of one another.
- No one has ever swum across Lake Baikal. There are probably very few people in the world who could swim for 12 hours in average water temperatures of 8 to 10 degrees Celsius. The waters of Baikal never really get warm, even in summertime. Surface layers reach only 14C degrees, and the sun’s rays cannot heat the Lake’s lower depths.
- A number of species of animals and plants are unique to Baikal; you cannot find them anywhere else on Earth. One is the Baikal seal or nerpa – a placid animal that looks like a cute, plump seal.
- The water in the Lake is so clear that you can see to a depth of 40 meters.
- The waters of Lake Baikal constitute about 19 percent of the world’s freshwater reserves. If we took all this water and divided it among the 144 million people in Russia, each person would get about 2,700 railway tank cars of water. Incidentally, this volume of water is more than that of all five Great Lakes taken together.
- In winter, it takes one month for Baikal’s waters to freeze solid. Cooling of the water is very slow because of its depth.
- In winter, the water of the Lake is covered with a thick layer of ice, which is constantly filled with huge cracks. The length of these cracks sometimes reaches 30 kilometers.
- Famous movie director James Cameron celebrated his 51st birthday at Baikal. He adores the place.
- There are 336 rivers and streams that flow into Lake Baikal, and only one – the Angara – flows out. If suddenly Baikal was no longer fed with water from all these streams, and the Angara River continued to flow, it would take 400 years for the Lake to completely empty.
This enormous, marvelous lake is surrounded by mountain ridges and hills; the western shore is rockier and more precipitous than the eastern coastline. The fascinating nature and landscapes, as well as the variety of flora and fauna, attract tourists from all over the world.
The region was awarded status as a preserve of global importance: by number of rare plants and animals, it surpasses Madagascar and the Galapagos Islands. The best time to vacation at Baikal is from May to October. But whenever you visit this unique place, you will never forget its magnificent wild nature!