Hidden gems of Baikalsky Nature Reserve

Elena Bubeeva | Live the World

November 23, 2022

It is rare to find a route that combines several extremely different natural landscapes and various attractions in one phenomenal hike. However, the Baikalsky Nature Reserve **has it all. Its immense territory of 167, 871 ha is home to all possible trails - from a wooden boardwalk for people with disabilities to remote trails through taiga, waterfalls, and subalpine meadows. Before heading to the Museum of Nature, the trek takes you to the modern visitor center, noted for its interactive displays and stunning photography. Curious to see what are some other hidden gems cloaked in the Baikalsky Nature Reserve**? Then keep on reading!

Photo © credits to Baikalsky Nature Reserve

A pearl of Khamar-Daban jungles: Osinovka River 

Just as the Baikalsky Nature Reserve is full of beautiful mountain ranges and lush cedar forests, so it’s also rich in small rivers. And it’s not a surprise as particularly this geographical area is home to some spectacular Siberian mountain ranges that usually give rise to small streams and rivers. One of such massifs is the Khamar-Daban, whose height within the reserve varies from 500 m to 2316 m  above the sea level. Namely, the central Khamar Daban triggers off a small but rapid river of Osinovka. As it finds itself at the back of the reserve, you might firstly follow the Cedar Alley, a strip of the natural cedar forest. On the way are some incredibly powerful trees, few descents, and a flying bridge erected once by volunteers. But the real killer is the Osinovsky Waterfall, that is 3,5 m high. Falling from a height of two rocks, the water forms an unusual deep bowl.

Photo © credits to Great Baikal Trail

Exceptional displays of Baikalsky Nature Reserve 

I would be daring to state that Baikalsky Nature Reserve is the place of superlatives. Nowhere else in Siberia you find so many magnificent objects at the same location as here, from the most grandiose replica of Baikal Lake to the warmest banya, known as a Russian sauna. It is here that the volunteers from Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, Germany, and Switzerland have reproduced an impressive model of the world’s deepest lake in the world. After they created the small-sized counterparts of mountain ranges out of steel and stones, the construction was poured with the concrete. Today, occupying the territory of 70 sq. m., these small artificial taiga patches and snowy peaks present a real work of art.  The lake replica also constantly gets to be filled with the water. To make it look as real and transparent as possible, the reserve’s officers fill the reservoir with the help of a pump. The object is also equipped with the informational boards about the specially protected areas. 

Photo © credits to Baikalsky Nature Reserve

Another gem is hiding not far off. As Siberia is home to many indigenous people / ethnic minorities that were primarily settled in these geographic areas, it is also diverse in types of traditional dwellings you can come across here. Thus, Baikalsky Nature Reserve has an entire ethno-complex dedicated to such multinationality. On your journey through the reserve, you can visit the Buryat yurt, a Russian hut, and even Evenki tent. As you might guess, some authentic photography is allowed, too.

Photo © credits to Baikalsky Nature Reserve

Reserve’s icon: the visitor center

Finally, one more must you should not miss whilst traveling to Baikalsky Nature Reserve is the visitor center. Located on the outskirts of the reserve, this breathtaking structure was brought into life recently, in 2017. Positioned as a modern informational and educational tourist complex, the visitor center aims to spread the word around environmental culture. There are several interactive expositions available that run throughout the year and a kid’s corner. You can either go on your own or get an experienced guide. The visitor center also possesses a souvenir shop that has all you can surprise your friends and relatives with. From items made of birch bark and cute Baikal seals to authentic works of local artists and craftsmen, any of these gifts hopefully can keep warm memories about this cold place.

Photo © credits to Elena Bubeeva

Although being relatively widely known, Baikalsky Nature Reserve still has some amazing hidden gems that wait to be discovered by you. So do not miss your chance and get your backpack ready!

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