One of the rail hotspots of the trans-siberian train it is the city of Irkust which is approximately half of the way toVladivostok, the last stop of the train. Being half way does not make this place special but being the detour for the transmongolian train going to Beijing and having the Baikal lake as one of its main attractions make it a good stopover.
We arrived of course with a little bit of time hangover due to the multiple changes in time zones and we headed directly to the Baikal lake. Our first stop was the museam of the lake where we found very interesting information of the lake for a reasonable price. I totally recomend to go there and inform yourself about the lake. Some curious facts of the lake
- Biggest fresh water reservoir in the world with about 20% of the whole fresh water on earth.
- Deepest lake in the world, 1668 m deep.
- 630km long and 80km in its wider part.
- Many unique spices lives in it
- More than 330 rivers flow into the lake
The lake sourrandings are also very beautiful, covered with a green layer of pine trees and valleys that make such a nice environment. The main town in the lake is Listvyanka which is a very touristic place with lots of restaurants, boats companies and a local market. The activities that you can do there goes from hiking arround the lake (there is a Baikal great trail that surround the lake) taking boats of any kind from fast boats to slow ones or even overdrafts, you can take a lift from a ski station to go up a close mountain to get a good sight, there are camping areas arround the lake and you can also walk through town.
The lake it is quite cold as the water comes from the surrounding montains which melts their ice and snow into the lake. The average surface temperature is 4 degrees and in summertime can get up to 11 degrees depending on many factors as the deep or the kind of lake bed in that part. We went in the lake twice and we could experiment the difference in temperature as the first day we guess that the water was arround 6 degrees and the second time arround 11 degrees.
One of the activities that we liked the most was to cross the Angara river in the local ferry to port Baikal. There was a local train still running on steam locomotive and a nice town not affected by the tourism which gave us a great sight of the "real" Rusia. Also we found warmer waters than in Listvyanka.
The city of Irkust it is as well very nice, many beautiful churches and a very interesting museum of the history of the place, the Krayevedcheskiy muzey. It has a lot of nice places arround the river and lots of history. The capital of the siberian Rusia it is a place to visit.