Thumper…

January 1, 2013

Pribaikalsky National Park Bolshoe Goloustnoe

For the regular readers, you’ll know that it’s been a while since I’ve updated about my trip, which I finished way back in July. I’ve left you hanging in Russia, on the shores of Lake Baikal at Bloshoe Goloustnoe, one of the best places in Russia. My last post, here described our first day there and brought promises of more to come. So that’s where we pick up the tour of Russia!

While I was in Uganda a few weeks ago, I’d headed out to Lake Bunyonyi in the country’s South West. I’d spent some being paddled around in a canoe on the lake by a couple of locals where they had proudly proclaimed that Lake Bunyonyi was the second deepest lake in the world. They were extremely proud of this fact. While not lost on us, our most obvious question was – “What is the deepest lake in the world then”? They didn’t know, but went back to exclaiming, this is the second deepest lake in the world. For some reason (probably due to lake of time and internet coverage) I hadn’t gotten around to looking up what was actually the deepest lake in the world.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda, second deepest lake in the world

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda, second deepest lake in the world

Fast forward to Russia, about 2-3 weeks later and I’m standing on the shores of Lake Baikal.

We had gathered early for a walking tour with Eugene into the nearby Pribaikalsky National Park to see Dry Lake. I must admit, I was sure hoping this walk wasn’t too strenuous today as I was nowhere near 100%, but no way was I going to miss out.

We wandered along the shore of Lake Baikal, a nice flat easy stroll through the village, past the new tourist camps popping up and the locals enjoying their lake. Then we stopped on the edge of the lake, looking out over the water and Eugene proclaims proudly “This is the deepest lake in the world”! I’ll admit, I did a bit of a double take and got him to repeat that. “This is the deepest lake in the world” he said. I did get a bit excited at that – I had inadvertently turned my tour into the “deepest lakes of the world tour”. But still, it was nice to know the answer to my question asked about 2-3 weeks ago on the other side of the world.

The shore line of Lake Baikal, south of Bolshoe Goloustnoe village

The shore line of Lake Baikal, south of Bolshoe Goloustnoe village

We headed into the forest, following the narrow path that led us to Dry Lake. The area opened up and there was a body of water. I just thought this was a little side attraction along the way, not the destination – but no, we’d found Dry Lake was really wet lake. Apparently about every 3 years it fills with water and we saw it at one of those times. Perhaps to Russians, a lake that is dry 2 out of 3 years is dry enough to be called dry, but true dry lakes, like we have in Australia fill a lot less frequently than that.

Dry Lake with water, Pribaikalsky National Park, Bolshoye Goloustnoye, Russia

Dry Lake with water, Pribaikalsky National Park, Bolshoye Goloustnoye, Russia

It was great just spending some time on the shores there, a long way away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities of Moscow and St Petersburg, far enough away even from the people in the nearby village.
All too soon though we had to leave, and it seems that we left about the right time as Dry Lake is apparently quite popular and more than a few people were arriving to have a picnic there.

Posing at Dry Lake

Posing at Dry Lake

On the way back Jen met some friendly locals who were more than happy to introduce her to some of the local food – ants I think – that is meant to make a great snack if you feel a bit peckish along the way.

A local helping Jen find some bush tucker

A local helping Jen find some bush tucker

After another home cooked lunch, we went down to the local community center to share some stories on our home countries with some of the locals. I think the idea of this is to give something back into the community and inspire some of the younger ones with life outside their village. Unfortunately not many there, apparently it was school holidays.

Not everybody was enthralled at the community session...

Not everybody was enthralled at the community session…

By now the day had turned quite a lot cooler, but our time on the shores of the great Lake was running out. This meant that if our brave souls from yesterday really did want to do what “every” tourist must do and go swimming in the lake, they had to go now. The water in Lake Baikal is around 10 degrees Celsius. The wind was blowing a gale and the rest of us were rugged up (rugged up for summer time). The nearby locals couldn’t believe what they were seeing and I’m not sure whether their animated gestures were trying to dissuade the girls from going in, or laughing at them. We went for the latter.

Before the big dip, the Kiwi, Pom and Aussie

Before the big dip, the Kiwi, Pom and Aussie

Even though I wouldn’t call what Hannah and Aleisha did “swimming”, hats off to them for getting mostly in the water. Although I blinked and I think I missed it…

The Big Dip - blink and you missed it!

The Big Dip – blink and you missed it!

Another banya, followed by a home cooked meal and a special farewell cake from our hosts topped the day off.

Farewell Cake

Farewell Cake

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