Often mistaken for a sea, Baikal is a lake unlike any other on Earth. It is the world’s largest freshwater lake (by the volume of fresh water), and it is the deepest and the oldest lake in the world.
Located in the southern part of the Russian region Siberia, the lake contains 20% of the world’s freshwater making it the biggest reservoir of fresh water on Earth.
Known as the “Pearl of Siberia,” Lake Baikal is estimated to be 25 million years old and it is the home to more than 2,000 endemic plant and animal species of exceptional value to evolutionary science. Although it is hard to decide, the Nerpa seems to be the most famous of all endemic species that can be found at Lake Baikal. It is one of a kind species of seal that is restricted exclusively to a freshwater habitat. Sadly, the seal population has been reduced in recent decades and this unique seal faces an uncertain future due to climate change.
With a surface area of 12,248 square miles (31,722 square kilometers), Lake Baikal is bigger than many countries in the world including Belgium, Armenia, Albania, Haiti, Israel, Slovenia, and Qatar.
It is one of the three lakes in the world with a depth of over 1000 meters (3280 feet). At 1,642 meters (5387 feet) Lake Baikal is 172 meters (564 feet) deeper than Lake Tanganyika, and it is 617 meters (2024 feet) deeper than the Caspian Sea.
Lake Baikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular destinations for photographers and adventurers.
The lake freezes five times a year, and its ice is so thick that it can handle a vehicle over 15 tons. Russian photographer Kristina Makeeva and her friends spent three days exploring frozen Lake Baikal and managed to capture its magnificence.
She has described her experience on Bored Panda, saying that she and her friends were so captured by its beauty that they almost didn’t sleep for three days while they were there. She writes that Lake Baikal is the most beautiful place in the world, and when you look at her ethereal images, you just couldn’t agree more.
The ice in Baikal is the most transparent in the world! And this is true. You can see everything on the bottom: fish, green stones, plants and bluish gulf. The water in the lake is so clear that you can see various objects on the depth of 40 meters.
In some parts, ice is slippery like the mirror. You can shoot ideal reflections. A lot of travelers are moving around on skates, bicycles or sled. Some of them are walking for several hundreds of kilometers and are sleeping in the tents on the ice.
The ice is cracking all the time. When the frost is massive, cracks divide ice into different areas. The length of these cracks is 6-8 miles (10-30 kilometers), and the width is 1-2 feet (2-3 meters). Cracks happen every year, approximately in the same areas of the lake. They are followed by a loud crack that is reminiscent of thunder or a gunshot. Thanks to the cracks, the fish in the lake don’t die from the lack of oxygen. The ice of Baikal carries a lot of enigmas, the majority of formations provokes the interest of scientists.
If you are looking for another reason to visit the legendary lake you can be part of the world’s only marathon ice course laid between two opposite shores of the planet’s deepest lake.
As written on the official website of the Marathon, “Baikal Ice Marathon offers competitors the unique opportunity to race across the frozen waters of the largest, deepest and richest freshwater lake in the world.”