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Bolshoe Bogdo Mountain and the Baskunchak Lake
September 4, 2015 21:09


Bogdinsko-Baskunchaksky Reserve is one of the youngest in Russia, it has existed since 1997. Even by the name you can guess the two main natural objects protected by the reserve – the Bolshoe Bogdo Mountain and the salt Baskunchak Lake.

To be more precise, only a part of the lake belongs to the conservation area. Bogdinsko-Baskunchaksky area is the main and the largest cluster of the reserve. The Bolshoe Bogdo Mountain is one of the southernmost mountains of the Urals, the highest peak of the Caspian lowland.

For Kalmyks it is Bogd-Olo, the sacred mountain, “singing” in the wind and changing colors. One of its slopes is red, others look blue, green and yellow, depending on the time of day. All these phenomena have scientific explanations (which cannot deny the existence of numerous legends): “singing”, for example, is formed by air vibrations in numerous karst cavities.

The mountain has more than two dozen caves, and in addition, it is growing by about a millimeter each year. The fact is that a salt dome lays at the base of the mountain, and it breaks up through soft lime rock.

This dome has the same nature as the salt Baskunchak Lake: the mountain is connected with the inexhaustible salt mines of the unique water reservoir. The area of the lake makes up about 110 square kilometers, it maximum depth is about three meters. But a huge salt layer thousands meters deep lays under it. The lake water is saturated with salt, and everything around it is “salty”, so an amazing alien landscape is created.

You can walk on the salt crust on Baskunchak - in some places it can hold the weight of an adult. But not everywhere. It is possible to fall into thick black natural brine - the healing mud with the composition and effect similar to those of the Dead Sea mud - in the places where underground springs are located.
Near the lake the tourists see numerous labels prohibiting grazing, entrance and driving to the territory of the reserve and “Bassol” OJSC.
However, the locals (mostly Kazakhs) ignore the bans and periodically go to the lake to get salt, although all of them can read in Russian. Illiterate cows simply bypass barriers and go to lick the salt from salt marshes. For modern tourists Baskunchak is both an exotic place and a healing procedure in the saturated salt solution - brine. Large salt baths are formed in the areas of industrial production of salt, where salt sucker - a large processor that collects salt crust – has passed. This lake is almost completely covered with white crust, healing black clay lies under it. The “Beach” of Baskunchak is not the shore, but the edge of salt production, a lake in a lake.
The depth of salt production reaches eight meters, but it is not so easy to drown in such pool - the density of brine is higher than that of water, it just pushes the body up to the surface. It does not matter, if you can swim or not – bathe in the salt as long as you want. Only do not let the brine touch your eyes - it is dangerous, so do not make any abrupt movements. Walking on the bottom is also not easy: it is covered with pretty prickly crystals under the salt “sand”. It has long been proven that immersion in brine and healing mud has beneficial effect on blood circulation, skin, endocrine and digestive systems. Thereby hang Baskunchaksky salty air filled with phytoncides and bromine. So, an educational trip will also be health-improving.
Salt crystals stay on the skin after immersion in brine, therefore you need to wash them off. Shower cubicles near the lake are few, not too comfortable and not too attractive. If you do not want to take a shower in the plank shed, bring a lot of water with you. Anyway, you cannot do there without fresh water capacity.
The locals are responsive, willing to talk about the village, show where to go, how to get to the nearest bathe. But you should not walk through the village at night - drunk young people are not too friendly. You cannot spend the night in a tent on the shore of the lake – it is a conservation area. You can stay in the village of Nizhny Baskunchak - in the “Bassol” hotel or “Baskunchak” health resort.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Baskunchak Lake Russian lakes    

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