Lake Baikal is one of the world’s greatest record-setting lakes. The seventh largest lake in the world by surface area, it is the deepest in the world with a depth of over a mile, the largest by volume, and possibly the oldest lake in continual existence with an estimated age of twenty five million years. It is also one of the great natural sites of Russia and the most distinctive features of Siberia. Lake Baikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Early tribes are known to have inhabited the area around Lake Baikal for over a thousand years, and perhaps even much longer. It remained little known to the western world Russian explorers began arriving in the 17th century. The completion of the Trans-Siberian railway in the early 1900s opened Lake Baikal to further exploration and ultimately tourism.
Lake Baikal is immense, and may hold as much as one-fifth of the world’s (unfrozen) fresh water reserves, more than the five Great Lakes of North America combined. It supports a huge ecosystem of aquatic life and birds, including Baikal Seals (the only seal species known to live so far inland). The lake is enclosed along much of its shore by forested mountains, adding to the lake’s spectacular setting.
Lake Baikal is one of Russia’s great vacation sites, and is probably the single most popular tourist destination in the Far East north of China. It provides recreation opportunities in both summer and winter (the latter being popular for ice sports as the lake freezes very thickly in many places). Lake Baikal makes a conventient stop along the TSE enroute to Vladivostok. Web: http://lakebaikal.org (official website).