The Rivers of Lake Baikal
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December, 02

The Rivers of Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal has a huge amount of freshwater - 23615.39 cubic meters, which is about 19% of all world reserves. The amazing Lake is fed by a great number of rivers.

Their exact number is still subject to specialists’ discussions. According to the official version, their number is 336. But only one river carries the water of Baikal further - Angara.

The largest rivers among those running into the Lake include Selenga, Turka, Barguzin and Snezhnaya. Small rivers of Baikal sometimes have very funny-sounding names: for example, Pokhabikha, Slyudyanka, Golaya, Klyuevka, Buguldeika, Durnya. The latter, however, runs not into the lake itself, but into the Kotochik River that, in turn, runs into Turka, and Turka already runs directly into Baikal. And there are over thousand such rivers and brooks! That is why there is a problem with the exact number of the rivers running into the Lake.

The biggest river running into Lake Baikal is Selenga. 

It flows through the territory of Mongolia and Russia and brings nearly half of all the water coming into Lake Baikal.
The delta of Selenga was included into the list of unique natural phenomena of planetary significance: it has to play the role of a natural filter, conducting the primary purification of industrial waste coming to Baikal from Selenga.

The Upper Angara River is the second in the volume of water after Selenga. This is a mountain river, flowing fast, full of rapids and even after getting on a plane it does not divide itself into arms. But the Upper Angara River reaches Baikal already in a quiet and peaceful state: it forms a shallow bay called Angarsky Sor in the northern part of the Lake. A large part of the Baikal-Amur railway passes along Upper Angara. The river itself is navigable, but only in the lower reaches.


The Barguzin River, famous even more thanks to Barguzinsky sable living in its surroundings, is another river running into the ancient Lake. It flows on the territory of Buryatia and is fed mostly due to rains.
The upper reaches of the river are located on the protected area.
The character of the river is tricky, so its turbulent flow brings a lot of silt, sand and small stones to Baikal.

The Turka River flows in the mountains at an altitude of 1430 meters, so its waters are flowing fast, and on their way to Lake Baikal they manage to absorb waters from snow and rain, as well as its tributaries - Golonda, Kotochik,Yambui, Ara-Khurtak. Rafting on the river can become a very memorable journey: on this route you can often encounter wild roe deer, ducks, herons and even wild swans.

The Snezhnaya River is one of the largest rivers running into Lake Baikal. The area of its basin amounts to 3020 sq. km and its length is 173 km. The source of the river is located on the northern slope of the Khamar-Daban mountain range, to be more precise, in its western part. The characteristic features of Snezhnaya are its strong sections with rapids and sharp turns. Such features of the riverbed make it a favorite place of the fans of water sports and rafting.

The source of the Sarma River is located near the Golets Trekhgolovy Mountain. If you look at a straight line, then this is the place and Baikal are separated only by a dozen kilometers, however, Sarma is winding here and there, so it stretches for 66 km. The river is famous for the fact that one of the most powerful winds of Baikal (called “Sarma” by the locals) blows in its valley. Lake Baikal also has a strait called “Maloe More” (“small sea”), and it is the destination point for Sarma to deliver its waters. Maloe More is also a place popular among tourists, because in summer you can enjoy swimming here.

One of the tributaries of Lake Baikal is the Utulik River whose title means “low pass” translated from Buryat language. This River is the one most visited by the local residents and very popular among tourists, especially those in fond of extreme. The length of the river is 90 kilometers, but this modest distance includes many obstacles of various complexity. In addition, Utulik flows in a very picturesque place. The river is fed by snow and rain, as well as underground water in summer.

However, without a doubt, Angara plays a special role in the life of Lake Baikal - it is the only river flowing out from the Lake. 

A bunch of myths and tales are devoted to the beautiful Angara! The famous Shaman Stone rock is located at its source. According to one legend, the Father Baikal threw this stone after his runaway daughter Angara who refused to marry the unloved Irkut and fled to her lover Yenisei. The waters of Angara are pure and transparent, more than 30 species of fish live there. Fishermen from all around Irkutsk chose this river as their favorite place for fishing, and the residents of Irkutsk enjoy evening walks along its banks.

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