Baikal is a lake of tectonic origin. The Russians came to the shore of the lake in the 17th-18th centuries; the honor of the discovery belongs to the Cossack Kurbat Ivanov.
Today Baikal is not just a reservoir, but also a place of constant research. Let's find out more about the lake by debunking the main myths about it.
Myths about Baikal
Baikal is the largest lake in the world. By area, the lake is only the seventh in the world. But thanks to its tectonic origin, Baikal is the deepest in Russia and the world. And the lake is not the largest in terms of water volume, only the second. The leader, both in terms of area and volume, is the Caspian Sea. Moreover, the water there is still salty. So Baikal is the largest fresh water body in terms of volume.
Scuba divers cannot dive into Baikal. There is a myth that the waters of the lake are so cold that scuba divers have nothing to do there. In fact, there are daredevils. To travel deep into the waters of Lake Baikal, you need to take some precautions. The wetsuit must be dry, underneath it must be put on thermal underwear. Divers should also not use compensators.
The icebreaker ferry of the same name rests at the bottom of the lake. In 1890 the famous icebreaker ferry "Baikal" was launched. At that time, it was considered the second largest among all icebreakers in the world. But on August 16, 1918, at the Mysovaya station, the Czechoslovakians shot the ship from cannons, it completely burned down. Rumors immediately spread about the fate of the famous icebreaker. They said that it sank to the bottom of Lake Baikal. In fact, in October 1920, another icebreaker, Angara, was towed to the port of Baikal by the burned-out hull of the ship. The hull stood there for many years until they began to cut it for scrap. Everything that could be cut at the port was dismantled. Then the remains of "Baikal" were sent to the village of Listvennichnoye. There the iron was gradually dragged ashore and cut. By 1930, nothing remained of the icebreaker. And looking for his resting place in the lake is absolutely not worth it.
Kolchak's gold is at the bottom of "Baikal". In 2009, information appeared that the deep-sea vehicles "Mir" at the bottom of the lake were about to discover the gold of the Russian admiral. The leading Russian media wrote about the search then. But the locals themselves never said that the legendary treasure was flooded here. Before the start of work, there was no information about gold. At one time, 28 Pullman wagons with jewelry came to Irkutsk in the golden echelon of Kolchak. There they were reloaded into 13 larger four-axle American cars and returned to Kazan in May 1920 without loss. Overloading and checking are recorded in an act of March 1, 1920, which is known to real historians. Lovers of sensations have created a myth about the disappearance of a dozen cars along the way. In fact, the train did not go further than Irkutsk, the gold remained in place, so the treasure simply could not be in Lake Baikal. And the myth appeared, most likely thanks to the novel by the Englishman Brian Garfield "Kolchak's Gold", published in 1974. There was set forth the fictional story of the golden train, which followed to Vladivostok. The detective tells how already in our time the KGB and the CIA are hunting for a treasure that disappeared somewhere in Siberia. The story quoted in the Russian media about the fallen train from the bridge over the Berezovskaya Bay into the waters of Lake Baikal is untenable. In 1914-1915, this bridge no longer existed. On August 30, 2009, at a depth of 1350 meters, the Mir apparatus found wreckage of carriages. Most likely, they do not refer to the years of the Civil War, but to one of the famous 15 train wrecks that occurred from 1930 to 1962. But there was no evidence that these cars of the times belong to the times of Kolchak, especially to gold. In reality, these treasures cannot be at the bottom of the lake, there is no point in looking for them.
There is an ancient paleo-observatory at Cape Rytom. This place is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Baikal. Legends say that ancient people built their own Stonehenge on the cape. But this myth was created by the Moscow journalist A. Polyakov, who visited Baikal in 2005. In fact, the stones were piled up not so long ago. Inside some of the pyramids, there were even half-rotted bases of wooden pillars. The skepticism is added by the fact that the stone boulders on the north side were not covered with lichens and moss, they did not grow into the ground, like the ancient pyramids. Most likely, these boulders were recently placed by local residents, marking haymaking areas.
During the Great Patriotic War, mini-submarines protected the tunnels of the Round-Baikal road from saboteurs. According to this legend about small submarines, one of them even sank in the lake. This myth was invented by the crew of the motor ship "Secret" in 1995, wishing to attract tourist divers. The legend turned out to be surprisingly stable and tenacious. It was said that in 1941 the mysterious submarine was brought to Baikal, where it sank in 1943. However, there are no documents to support the existence of this myth. During the war years in the village of Tankhoy, a submarine squadron of the Black Sea Fleet was based. The tunnels were guarded by military units equipped not with submarines, but with anti-aircraft batteries. One can only guess whether miniature submarines were tested here in those years. In 2004 V. Zveren's novel was published under the title "Marine Patrol". The work was based on the fantastic story of the single-seat mini-submarine "Nerpa", which operated in the waters of Lake Baikal. Submariners fought with Chinese divers hunting for the sunken valuable cargo. This fictional story, being reworked, could form the basis of the myth. Its formation is also helped by the quite historical fact of the transportation of submarines by ferry across Baikal. But that was during the years of the Russo-Japanese War. Then it was necessary to urgently deliver 12 submarines from the Baltic to the Pacific Ocean. 4 mini-submarines were also transported on a special platform. And in the 1930s, Soviet sailors from the same Baltic and the Black Sea transported hulls of small M-type submarines through Baikal, as well as sections of medium submarines. During the Great Patriotic War, these elements followed back. There really is one mini-submarine on Lake Baikal - its metal model is located in an eternal parking lot on the banks of the Angara near the Anastasia hotel complex. It is clear from what pieces this myth was formed.
Expensive tours to Baikal. Many would like to go to Baikal, but it is considered an expensive pleasure. It is much easier and cheaper to go to resorts in hot countries. In fact, you should understand that a vacation on Lake Baikal can become one of the best memories of life. And even in conditions of limited finances, you can find inexpensive vacation options, you just need to plan everything in advance. It is better to go here when tourist activity subsides. From the beginning of September to the end of May, you can count on discounts, sometimes they can be 50% of the summer voucher. And rest in this season has many advantages. There are not so many tourists who interfere with enjoying nature and beauty. Traveling in a group will help you get an extra discount. It is better to spend the night not in respectable hotels, but in small home hotels. Early booking will also help lower your price.
It is better to visit Baikal in summer. At other times of the year, the lake is no less interesting. In autumn, everything around seems to freeze, the forest becomes especially bright and colorful. The wild rosemary blooming at this time is especially interesting. In winter, the surface of Lake Baikal is covered with ice, allowing a real fairy tale to be born.
Genghis Khan's troops crossed over to the island of Olkhon. This legend appeared in 1761, thanks to the German historian G. Miller. In his "History of Siberia" he said that Genghis Khan, roaming, reached Lake Baikal. There, on the island of Olkhon, on Cape Kobylya Golova, the Mongols even left their tagan with a horse's head. The local Buryats themselves do not know anything about this, nothing was found in historical documents about the visit of the great commander to the island. Most likely, Genghis Khan was not on Lake Baikal, and geologists say that in his era there was no dry isthmus between the mainland and Olkhon Island. Now around the island it is quite deep, and the bottom relief does not say anything about the existence of a bridge here.
Genghis Khan's ancestors are from Lake Baikal. There is reason to believe that the Barguzin Valley is the same legendary Bargudzhin Tokum, where the ancestors of Genghis Khan were from. For the first time, the hypothesis of such a correspondence was put forward by Lev Gumilev. But today this juxtaposition seems to be wrong. On old maps, the country of Bargu is located in the very north of the continent - on the seashore. Marco Polo in 1292 believed that Bargu was the Baraba steppe between the Yenisei and Irtysh. This plain, which “can be overcome in 40 days”, can hardly be the present-day valley of the Barguzin River near Lake Baikal. It is only up to 6 kilometers wide, and you can cross this entire territory on horseback in 2-3 days.
The lake has constant boundaries. Baikal can be considered "alive" not only because of the diversity of flora and fauna. The lake is slowly expanding. This happens simultaneously with the movement of continental plates. Baikal is located in a crustal fault. The part of the lake, adjacent to the Angara, does not change its position. And the coast, which faces Buryatia, is slowly, millimeter by millimeter, moving towards America.
At the bottom of Baikal there is an alien base. This myth is popular among the locals. But there is, of course, no real evidence. Scientific expeditions repeatedly plunged into the depths of the lake, but they did not find anything supernatural there. Residents talk about unusual glow in the sky, about glowing balls rising from the surface. But in an attempt to uncover the facts, it turns out that these stories are retellings of rumors.
Man is rapidly destroying the Baikal ecosystem. On the shores of the lake is the notorious Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, which is accused of irreparable damage to the environment. It started work back in 1966. Since then, ecologists have not ceased to sound the alarm - the bottom areas around the lake began to dry out, dioxin pollution significantly exceeded the norm. Fortunately, the business was closed in 2013. But this, like other anthropogenic interventions, did not cause irreparable damage to the lake's ecosystem. Not a single endemic species has disappeared from Lake Baikal, the concentration of dissolved ions has been preserved, diatoms live, the populations of seal and omul have the usual numbers. Due to the well-being of the local ecosystem, Baikal was added to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List. Today there are several nature conservation organizations that are specifically concerned with the protection of Lake Baikal and monitoring its indicators.
Baikal water can be drunk. The idea of selling bottled water from the lake or building a water conduit from here is more than thirty years old. But it does not correspond to GOST, because it lacks calcium. It cannot be considered mineral, there are no mineral substances in this water. These characteristics make the water dangerous for continuous use. It is essentially distilled.
It is easy to fish in Baikal. It is believed that there are so many fish in the lake that you can catch them almost with your hands. The lake has a really rich fauna. But you still need to be able to catch fish. The usual pike, perch and carp are not found in too cold depths, they prefer shallow bays. The main species is omul. They say that in the 1970s fishermen from Azov came to Lake Baikal, who taught local residents the art of fishing. Fishing rods on Lake Baikal are not perceived as tackle. Nets are put on omul, pulling kilograms of "live silver".
There is ice water in Baikal. For Europeans accustomed to warm southern resorts, the water in the lake can really seem icy. For local residents, "fresh milk" is considered a temperature of 18 degrees. Up to this point, the water can warm up in summer, but at a depth it is not higher than 12 degrees. The maximum recorded temperature in the lake is 23 degrees.
Baikal has a harsh climate and nature. In summer, in the vicinity of the lake, the temperature can reach 40 degrees Celsius. True, the weather is still unstable, given the strong winds on the lake. A sunny morning can be replaced by an evening shower. In general, the weather rarely brings surprises - it is hot in summer and cold in winter. And by the number of sunny days, Baikal even bypasses some resorts. And the taiga surprises with its diversity. Birch forests are located in the south of Baikal, and coniferous in the north. There are real steppes in the vicinity, which made it possible for the Buryat livestock breeders to survive here.
Baikal is full of mosquitoes. It is quite logical to assume that there will be many mosquitoes in the middle of the taiga. But tourists who stock up on powerful protective equipment are pleasantly surprised. There are few mosquitoes on Lake Baikal. In July, on a hot day and in calm weather, horseflies annoy. And especially attentive tourists should be about ticks - they are the main danger here.
The Baikal region is not happy with its sights. Many people believe that the local nature is interesting only for the lake itself, forests, species, and mushrooms and berries. In fact, there are many interesting things around Baikal. There is a historical settlement, which is 35 thousand years old, singing sands, mirages of mountains, trees above the water. You can hear an echo from a distance of several kilometers, strange "bottle" trees, "falling" stones, anthills as tall as a man, caves with underground lakes and colorful grottoes. The traveler will not be bored here.
Baikal is shallow due to human activities. Often experts say that in recent years the lake has begun to shallow. In the Baikal basin, a dry period really began, back in 1996. The complex hydrological situation is associated with an increased average temperature and a lack of precipitation. The inflow is 2-2.8 times less than the norm. But here it is more to blame nature, and not man. During the Ice Age, the flow of all rivers into the lake stopped altogether, its level dropped by 50 meters. But Baikal was able to recover. Even over the past half century, the water level has dropped to similar levels 19 times. There were similar problems a hundred years ago, when people here did not conduct any active economic activity.