Tankhoy - the Capital of the Baikal Reserve
© Photo: Key to Baikal
April, 29

Tankhoy - the Capital of the Baikal Reserve

We continue to introduce you to unusual villages of Baikal. This time our article will be dedicated to the village of Tankhoy in the southern part of Lake Baikal. “Key to Baikal” will tell you why it is worth coming here and why you should not forget to take the camera...


A Town and a Station

The name of the village is explained in different ways: according to one version, this word means “a wet place”: truth be told, these places actually have the largest amount of precipitation on Baikal. According to the second version, Tankhoy means “a curve, a bend”. The terrain around Tankhoy is really tortuous. Both versions can be truthful, but there is one thing uniting them: Buryat etymology of the word “Tankhoy”.

This place could avoid becoming famous, but for the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Moreover, it was originally planned to call the station “Sokol” (“Falcon”). Several villages emerged near the station. In 1899, they began to build a pier for steamships, besides, they constructed a harbor for an icebreaker ferry. Prior to the construction of the Circum-Baikal Railway, the giant “Baikal” ferry icebreaker took trains here.

The station itself was officially founded in 1904. After the trains began to regularly pass through the station, the village of Tankhoy began to rapidly grow. You can still see the buildings of early XX century there. For example, the remains of port buildings, two water towers and a number of civic buildings in the village.

A car road also passes through Tankhoy, which made the settlement an important logistics center in the middle of the way between Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude from the very beginning.

New Life

Baikal State Natural Biosphere Reserve was founded in 1969. Tankhoy became its central manor. This fact radically changed the life of the village.

The reserve was originally designed as a part of a chain of specially protected natural areas that were supposed to protect the ecosystem of Baikal. Now almost the entire coast of Baikal is protected, including its southern part. In some way, the opening of the reserve was supposed to compensate for the negative activities of the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill. However, the main task is the protection of undisturbed cedar forests even now.

The reserve occupies the central part of the Khamar-Daban Range and goes to the southeastern coast of Lake Baikal.

More than a thousand species of higher vascular plants grow there; and about 70% of the territory is covered with forests. Some of these plants are included into the Red Book of Buryatia, several of them are listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. There are ten endemic species, including the endemic of the Khamar-Daban Range - Swertia baicalensis, a beautiful plant from the gentian family with dark purple flowers, found mainly on alpine meadows. 90 species of trees and shrub plants grow there.

Many animals are protected, such as otter, wild boar, roe deer, elk, brown bear and, of course, sable. These places are not crowded by people and are covered with forests; therefore, the Baikal Biosphere Reserve manages to preserve this diversity of species. In addition to large animals, birds also live here: wood-grouse, black kite, Siberian jay, rock ptarmigan, and crested honey hawk. In the reserve you can also find such species as Japanese tree toad, moor frog, swift lizard.

1288 species of insects, 366 species of fungi, and many other animals and many other things live and exist in the Baikal Biosphere Reserve. The Reserve has many natural wonders worth to be looked at. Let alone picturesque mind-blowing local views.

Simple Life of Tankhoy Village@Simple Life of Tankhoy Village
Simple Life of Tankhoy Village

The reserve has created excellent conditions for eco-tourism, and Tankhoy is the starting point for a travel through the reserve. A modern visitor’s centre “Reserved Baikal” was built here not long ago: the center offers the possibility of comfortable living and stunning views from large stained glass windows. In addition to an interesting environmental exhibition, the visitor’s center also has an interesting historical and memorial complex dedicated to the history of Tankhoy and the Baikal ferry. This complex includes a station house with expositions inside, military carriages of early XX century, a memorial pillar dedicated to the Beijing-Paris motor rally and many things more.

The reserve is equipped with ecological paths with wooden flooring for people with disabilities. The routes pass through cedar forests, lead to mountain lakes and waterfalls, to the places where animals live in their natural habitat. Do not forget to take a camera for wildlife photography.

How to Get There? Where to Live?

Tankhoy is equidistant from two large cities - Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude. Travel time will be about the same in both cases. The most proper way to get to Tankhoy will be going by rail from the eponymous station. Thus, you have a chance to plunge into the atmosphere of the early XX century.

The village has many guest houses, as well as hotels. In addition, do not forget about the new visitor’s center where you can get all the information you need.

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