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November, 13, 2018

Gray-bearded Barguzin - the Headstrong Tributary of Baikal

One of the most interesting rivers in Eastern Siberia is the third largest tributary of Baikal - Barguzin, the main waterway of Buryatia.

The inhabitants of these places remember plenty of legends and tales about Barguzin. The name of the river itself is very interesting, and it can cause completely different associations of locals. After all, for them Barguzin means a wind, a river, a bay, a natural reserve, a prison, and a city (in the 21st century it acquired a status of a village).

Barguts, Bargutins, Barga…

The main explanations of the origin of such an interesting name definitely takes us back to the history of the ancient Mongolian tribe of Barguts (Bargutins) that use to inhabit the river valley in ancient times. Then there are several alternative versions of the events: either the toponym of the river originated from the name of the tribe, or, on the contrary, the designation of the nationality is “secondary” and originated from the river name that had appeared earlier. The word stem here is the Mongolian “barga”: it means “rough”, “primitive”, “ancient”, "patriarchal". When the Barguts left the banks of Barguzin, Buryats began to settle there from the 17th century, rethinking the name within the frame of their linguistic tradition. And as a result, the explanation was derived by them from the Buryat word “barga” meaning “forest”, “underdeveloped”, “middle of nowhere”, “outskirts”.

Another explanation is also interesting and has the right to exist. The name of the river was borrowed from the eastern Baikal wind – “barguzin” that blows with enormous pressure. The Buryat population linked this name to the river, since its current in some places was characterized by such swiftness, rush, speed, that it could destroy everything in its path, washing the banks away. And one of the meanings of the word “Barguzin” is “power”, “very strong force”.

The residents of Buryatia also tell a rather sad legend. A brave young man and a beautiful girl who loved each other lived in a mountain village located close to the source of the river. The parents did not approve of the wish of their children to live together, because the latter were very young. Then the young people decided to flee, but they could not imagine what kind of way was ahead of them. The lovers escaped unnoticed from their houses at night and went along the riverwhich was a very narrow stream at its source. But when the lovers reached a place where a calm stream turned into an intimidating current with many rapids, they noticed that they had been being pursued by their parents. The young man suggested to simply swim across the river, so that they could be completely safe on the other bank. He rushed into the water, being sure that his beloved would follow him, but she become frightened and had no courage to act. And the powerful current carried away her beloved who was calling for her. And even the parents who came just in time could not overcome the strong river. The young man died, and the grieving parents called the powerful river “Barguzin”.

“And the Barguzin River is great, the way from it to the Barguzinsky Fortress takes 5 days, and Yenisei servicemen live in the Barguzinsky fortress ...”  - this was the first Russian description of the river made by Nikolai Spathari, a diplomat, a traveler, a geographer, in 1675.

The length of this blue waterway is 480 kilometers, and it is impossible to describe it in an unambiguous way. If you recall the sad Buryat fairytale, it clearly indicates that at the place of origin the river a thin, calm stream that turns into an intimidating mountain current where the fairytale lover drowned; however, further on it becomes slow once more, then, again, the water is rushing with whirlpools and thresholds.

If we want to be precise with geographical locations, then the source of the river is Lake Balentamur, where the Ikatsky and South Muya Mountain Ridges, as well as territory of the “Dzherginsky” State Nature Reserve are located. The most unique part of that place is the relict glacial Amut Depression (the midstream of Barguzin).

The second unique natural reserve directly connected with the river is Barguzinsky natural reserve. (INSERT A LINK HERE) Barguzin flows into the eponymous, largest and deepest Bay of Baikal— Barguzinsky Bay. We can assume that the river could have “joined” with Baikal before, but now it is separated from the lake by the powerful Barguzinsky Range along the entire length of the river.

Barguzin - a Favorite Tourist Destination

The surroundings of Barguzin are incredibly beautiful, whereas its water and banks are full of many interesting representatives of fauna and flora. Travelers, especially supporters of eco-tourism, have a unique opportunity to make their dreams come true.

Larch forests - light coniferous forests - grow on the banks of the river, these forests mostly include larches. The undergrowth is incredibly diverse - alder, dwarf birch, willow, rhododendron, dwarf pine… There are also lots of berries, mushrooms, medicinal plants.

The banks of Barguzin are a wonderful home for various animals: sables, foxes, Siberian striped weasels, ermines, lynxes, roe deer, musk deer, Siberian stags, elks, wild boars, brown bears... The banks are also attractive for birds, you can see many of their nesting sites there.

The waters of Barguzin are amazingly rich in fish. Graylings, lenoks, huge taimens live inside the water reservoir ... Barguzin cisco comes to spawn here.

The potential of Barguzin makes it possible for everyone who comes here to find something that they like. Barguzin in its upper reaches is a truly mountain river, with many rapids and sand bars. This is a great place for rafting. Besides, the high banks of the Shaman Rift are decorated with ancient rock paintings.

The abundance of fish will keep the most demanding fisherman busy, both in summer and in winter. Experts say that fishermen can have a great catch of grayling, lenok and taimen there.

Curative mineral springs can also be found near the banks of the Barguzin River.

 

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