Global Travel Media » Blog Archive » Lake Baikal the Deepest and Certainly the Coldest in the World

Home » Destination Global »Headline News » Currently Reading:

Lake Baikal the Deepest and Certainly the Coldest in the World

November 2, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59The screams and thrashing around confirmed beyond doubt that our initial thoughts the lake was between five and six degrees Celsius were correct.

Siberia has a reputation for being freezing but this was summer time. Tim Terrific our Sundowners Overland guide had half- jokingly invited our group to have a swim in this famous lake that at its JULY 2013 085deepest is 1637 metres.

Situated 64 k’s south-east of Irkutsk in Siberia the lake and surrounds are the summer hideaway for the people of Irkutsk.  Most of our team of 18 declined the invitation to don the swimmers but a couple of us said knowing Tim was a Pom countered with “I will if you will”.

When we filed onto the bus which would take us by the lake on our way out of town Tim again posed the question as he was getting his swimmers ready. Cries of I have packed my swimmers or I didn’t bring swimmers rang through the bus.

Four of us put our hands up to take the plunge and we all agreed it was a one off. I have swum in some cold waters around the world and in particular in Taormina in Sicily but this 40 second dip in Lake Baikal was “brass monkey” stuff.  (Aussie slang for very bloody cold).

The lake contains more than 20,000 cubic k’s of water roughly 20 per cent of global drinking water and if the world’s water ran out tomorrow the lake could supply the whole population of the planet for 40 years.

Called the Blue Eye of Siberia it is the world’s oldest lake formed 50 million years ago. It is also one of the biggest lakes in the world 400 miles long and between 20 and 40 miles wide. The water is crystal clear and safe to drink.

There are a number of activities and places of interest around the lake (swimming not being one of them) The Baikal Museum has some entertaining exhibits highlighting the unique marine life in the area and the Taltsy Museum of Wooden Architecture is worth a visit as is St Nicholas’ Church.

We ate at the Last Century (English translation) restaurant opposite the lake enjoying fresh Omul fish done the local way.  Also known as Baikal Omul, is a whitefish species of the salmon family endemic to the Siberian lake. The dialogue with the staff at the restaurant was a bit stretched but we enjoyed the views over the lake and the food was very tasty and that made up for the terrible house white.

JULY 2013 074There are also casual restaurants barbequing fish, pork and beef skewers served in the sand beside the lake. As well as food and fashion (might be a misnomer)markets are plentiful mainly selling fish prepared each and every which way and cheap with a local beer. We were invited to join a senior local couple who were sitting on plastic chairs enjoying the market food and ambience.  The husband was very proud of having had a swim in the lake prior to tucking into the food (potato mash with vegetables

and gravy) local beer with Vodka chasers. I reckon that was a good move to heat the body at least inside after a hypothermic style dip. We passed on the chasers.

We stayed up a steep hill from the lake at the Baikal Chalet Listvyanka which was a charming wooden structure with great food and views to the lake.

After our swim it was back on the bus again, farewell Lake Baikal as we head to Irkutsk to commence our Trans- Siberian Rail journey (as distinct from the Trans Mongolian we had just completed) through Moscow to St Petersburg.

The only reason you would swim in an icy Lake Baikal is to say you have and some may question your sanity.

Written by : John Savage

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Jeanette says:

    Saw you do it!

Comment on this Article:

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Platinium Partnership


Elite Partnership Sponsors


Premier Partnership Sponsors


Official Media Event Partner


Global Travel media endorses the following travel publication




11 12