The “Ant River” of Baikal
© Фото: Первый Байкальский
December, 09

The “Ant River” of Baikal

Each member of the large family of Baikal rivers fills its own special place. This is also true of the small fifteen-kilometer Irinda River flowing in the area of the Barguzinsky Ridge in Severobaikalsky district of Buryatia, on the territory of the famous Barguzin Nature Reserve.

Irinda flows into Lake Baikal from the east, through the eponymous bay.

The coastline of the lake varies in different places, and one of its forms is the so-called “guba” bay, which is also a bay, just like ordinary and “sor” bays: it is a part of the lake deeply protruding into the coast and surrounded by land on three sides. The special feature of a “guba” bay is precisely the fact that some river usually flows into it.

The Disputes of Translators

Speaking about the view on the origin of the name of Irinda, consent has been was achieved on only one issue. Everyone agrees that it is based on Evenki (Tungus) vocabulary. If we examine the history of the problem development, then the famous “Navigational Directions” of Lake Baikal by F.K. Drizhenko (1908) clearly say that the Irinda river is translated from Tungus Language as “ant river”.

In Evenki language, “irikta” means “an ant”. All other variations originated from this word, because they also have the word “irindokan” translated as “a small ant stream (river)”.

However, according to the geologist, local historian, toponymist S.A. Gurulev, the standard explanation is completely wrong. We should base on the Evenki word “iri” – “a blade”. This is proved by an extremely straight course of the river flow, which is apparently explained by its location in the valley that emerged due to fault tectonics. The latter is expressed in the straight-lined character of the valley, its asymmetry, a very steep right slope of the valley extending for many kilometers, as if cut out with a knife. Hence came the name “Irindakan”.

Travel Notes

The source of Irinda is located 7 km to the east of Torkukit (Turkukit) Bay. The bay is located on the northeast coast of the lake and occupies a very small area - only 0.8 km². “Turkukit” originally means “transition, a pack trail”. If you look at a more detailed Evenki explanation, it means “someone who went to the coast from the forest”. Indeed, this “trail” leads to the coast of Lake Baikal. Interestingly, despite the elevated and rocky nature of the coast in that place, cattle were driven here earlier.

Fedor Drizhenko who described the character of Irinda, believed that “due to its speed and rocky bed, the nature of Irinda could be compared to that of a mountain river”. The bank of Irinda near the ​​Cape Urbikan is overgrown with a dense mixed forest, and the bank itself consists of boulders and small pebbles. Small harlequin duck lives on the wetlands of the cape, Evenks call the bird “urbikan”, thus the duck gave the name to this part of the land protruding into the water reservoir.

Before the revolution of 1917, winter houses and yurts of Tunguses were located along the Irinda Bay.

The hills behind the Irinda River approach its banks and form a wide and steep Cape Pongonye with crumbled rocks in some places, its name means “thick”, as translated from Tungus.

The coast between the river Irinda and Cape Pongonye can be called one of the deepest places.

After the Irinda Bay, the coastline of the lake drastically straightens out.

What Can Interest You in the Environs of Irinda?


Firstly, the Barguzinsky ridge itself can be “an attraction”; its landscape was formed as a result of long and complex processes. The ridge stretches along a rather extensive part of the eastern coast, involving territories from the north of the plain of the Verkhnyaya Angara River, then rushing southward to 300 km. The limiting point is the Baikal Peak (2841 m) with a total average height of the ridge peaks around 2400 m.

A specific attractive feature of this mountain ridge is the presence of a large number of various needles, peaks, pyramids, trapezoids, cascading waterfalls and rivers, beautiful lakes of glacial origin.

Secondly, Cape Pogonye - the natural monument of regional significance of the Republic of Buryatia – cannot leave anyone indifferent ​​. The capes of Lake Baikal are already a separate exciting story, where each cape is a peculiar, unique, unmatched kingdom with its own specific name. Cape Pogonye (also known as “Tolsty”) fully corresponds to the semantics of its name (“fat, thick”). High lake terraces, picturesque rocks, seal rookeries... Pogonye has been recognized as one of the most famous seal rookeries on Lake Baikal.

Thirdly, the Turukhit (Turukit) Bay where Tolsty Cape is located also attracts attention. A lonely high granite block stands in the recess of the bay.

Its northern side is overgrown with lichens; one end is covered with small gravel crumbling from the slope. Smaller stones are scattered around the monolith, besides, rosemary, raspberries, alder, and incense grow there. A line is engraved on the stone high above the modern level of water edge. This is one of the 16 tick marks of the level of Baikal made by the famous geologist and researcher of Baikal I.D. Chersky. On the other side we can see a well-preserved date - 1878. This is the year when the mark was made. However, today this mark is located a bit higher than the real level of Lake Baikal. The mark was transferred in 1950s when the lake level rose.

Fourth, these places are valued for being rich in fish. The emotions of fishermen describing the successful catch of lenok (for example) amaze with their bright expression!

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