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Baikal: Olkhon island
November 5, 2014 12:19


Olkhon is a unique place, as it is the only island near Lake Baikal where people live permanently. They say that apart from the local community, ancient spirits also appear here from time to time. 

Olkhon is the largest island in Lake Baikal and the third-largest lake-bound island in the world with an area of about 730 square kilometers. Olkhon is situated in the midsection of Lake Baikal, close to the Western margin of the lake. About 1500 people live here permanently, most of them in Khujir - the largest city of Olkhon. 

Olkhon is the territory of the Baikal National Park. In the West the island is flat and has sandy shores, in the East – severe and mountainous. The steppe in the South and in the North changes to the pine forest, birches and larches, thyme and ledum. Besides, there are mountains and even deserts here. The local community enjoys fishing, they work in vegetable gardens and ranch. Traditionally, but not always legally, they chop wood.

There are many legends about Olkhon. It attracts more and more tourists. Many campings and hotels are being built. They offer bicycle rent and internet, night fishing, walks on motor boats, horse riding, photo safari and meetings with shamans. The inhabitants of Olkhon fish for the tourists, cook oriental dumplings, organize excursions along the shore.

The tourists season peak is during the warmest months (July and August). But sometimes there are so many people that it becomes impossible to find the unity with nature. The true connoisseurs recommend to choose June in order to learn Olkhon better (the water is still quite cold, it is impossible to bathe, but the island is empty of people and very quite) or September, when Olkhon blooms with golden autumn colours.

Current Problems: Garbage

The participants of the festival of contemporary art “Baikal Fest” on the Baikal island of Olkhon built a pyramid of the garbage in early August. The composition of two thousand bags of bottles, glass, and plastic about six meters high is a real reflection of the global problem of Olkhon garbage. 

The waste was collected on a dump site near Khuzhir which appeared in Soviet times and now occupies about 12 hectares. As modern designers and artists think, the pyramid encourages the visitors to think about the harm that is done to the unique nature of the Baikal Lake. 

During the festival, in addition to the pyramid, tourists and local residents together with the designers built a few more sculptures of garbage. Now they will begin to dismantle the pyramid. A special press machine will press the plastic garbage which will later be disposed of. 

The removal of the pyramid and other waste from the island will take 580 thousand roubles from the local budget. 18 million roubles for this purpose will be allocated within the framework of the federal program for the protection of the Lake Baikal. The transportation of the garbage is expected to begin when the main inflow of tourists decreases; the works will continue until December, as long as the ferry still operates. 

The removal of all Khuzhir waste will require 22 KamAZ trucks to work every day for three months. It is planned that the sculptures of driftwood, trees and other natural materials will be built on the place of the huge dump site in 2014.




Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Olkhon Baikal    

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