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Volcanoes valley: river under lava flows
November 2, 2009 21:42

The volcanoes valley, or Khi-Gol fold, is curious or even unique place, situated in the East Sayan Mountains (Republic of Buryatia) noy far from the Baikal Lake. This fold is a water gap of the rivers Khi-Gol and Zhombolok, filled with lava from the volcanoes Kropotkin’s and Peretolchin’s, which were active just a few thousands years ago. Their volcanic necks look tiny by contrast to the mountains around, but their ringside view is showy. The thickness of the lava layer in the valley reaches 150 meters, and nothing grows on its grey surface, in spite of the volcanic necks. The special feature of this place is that all the seasons can be presented during the time you will spend there. It means that the snowfalls in the middle of the hot summer are not an outstanding event in the volcanoes valley.

Volcanoes in this area were active for a few thousands years. The streams of lava covered 70 kilometers of the watercourses of the rivers Khi-Gol and Zhombolok. The river Khi-Gol (Khikushka) flows partly under the lava layer. There were several volcanoes, but two of them survived good. They look like two regular conoids stand in the lava fields in 3 kilometers from one another.

The first one is called Kropotkin’s and the second one - Peretolchin’s in honor of the discoverers. Peretolchin even died around here under puzzling circumstances. The volcanoes are divided with a mighty lava flowing which looks like tumble of rocks different size and form now. It reminds of the hummocky floes. The Peretolchin’s volcano is about 110 meters; diameter of its crater is 140 meters, and its depth – 30 meters. Kropotkin’s volcano is younger and bigger. Its height is 120 meters and the diameter of its crater is 500 meters. It is possible to descend into its crater.

Getting around
The volcanoes valley is usually a part of the hiking or riding tours, because this place is rather hard to get. The way there begins in the settlement of Orlick via the Khoito-Gol thermal springs. Orlick is a centre of the Okinsky district of Buryatia and the last settlement on the route to the valley of volcanoes. You can get there from Irkutsk. The 72-km road runs from Orlick to the Khoito-Gol springs. They are often visited by the tourists and the local habitants because of the medical properties of the waters. The baths are built above the springs.

There is also a place for the sacrifices, or Burkhan, not far from the springs. The way to the volcano valley runs then along the Arshan brook. After you overcome the serpentinous road and the pass (the height of the pass is 2350 meters), you have a good view of the destination point, the valley of the volcanoes. What about means of transport, the way to Orlick is a road to go by car, but after that the only one mean of transport is an off-the-road vehicle or – better – the horse.

All in all, this place is worth to be visited. If you have decided to do without tour operators, we can wish you luck and offer our visa support service, and train tickets for Trans-Siberian Railway, if you don’t like to fly to Irkutsk by plane, but are inclined to turn the transportation to the unique experience of almost continuous movement along the longest railroad in the world.

Yulia Buzykina


Tags: Baikal     

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