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Lake Baikal: Svyatoy Nos Peninsula
November 14, 2015 21:44


Svyatoy Nos separates Chivyrkuisky and Barguzinsky bays, a lot of islands are located next to it, including the famous Ushkanyi with seal rookeries, and all of these lands are included into the Trans-Baikal National Park. 

The length of the peninsula makes up 53 km, width - 20 km. The highest point (1877 m) is the Markova Mountain. It is regularly stormed not only by tourists, but also by locals during the traditional annual marathons attracting people even from other regions of Buryatia.

It is not necessary to climb to the top in order to enjoy the view of the surroundings, it is enough to rise to the level of the mountain plateau where the tundra begins. A magnificent panorama opens from the plateau: the water surface of the Baikal Lake, a series of islands and two bays: Barguzinsky and Chivyrkuisky. This is one of the best views on the sea lake.

From geographical point of view the peninsula is a spur of the Barguzinsky Ridge with a corresponding relief: mountains, hills, steep slopes, treeless skerries, a lot of rivers (the largest of them being Krestovskaya), hot springs (the most popular of them being Zmeiny in the Zmeevaya Bay, Orlovsky in the north-west of the peninsula is less famous). The forests are dense, a lot of different animals, from muskrat to bear, live there. Do you like wild nature? Here you are.

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According to one version, the name of Svyatoy Nos was given to the peninsula by Cossack settlers, and the word “nose” simply means “cape”.

According to another version, it is a distorted translation of the native Buryat name Khilmen-Khushun, meaning “sturgeon’s nose (head)”. Indeed, the picture of the silhouette of Svyatoy Nos taken from space resembles the head of the fish. Only how ancient Buryats could fly so high to see it?

Svyatoy Nos was a shrine for Buryat and Evenki shamans a century ago. Its forests were regarded as sacred, they performed the rituals and buried shamans there. Indigenous peoples believed that the peninsula was inhabited by spirits of the forest, fire and mountains - ezhins. It was forbidden not only to cut the wood and the grass, but even just to come here at wrong times, on the sacred ground. So the closed regime of the National Park which includes the peninsula today has a long tradition.

In 1878-1881 the Baikal Lake was studied by the eminent geographer and geologist Ivan Cherskiy. He is considered the first to walk the entire coast of the lake and go around it by boat. One of the intersection points that Cherskiy made on rocky outgrowths above the water’s edge in order to determine the secular changes in the level of the lake is still there on Svyatoy Nos. The Nizhneizgolovskaya intersection point (by the name of the Nizhnee Izgolovye Cape) is now located at a height of two meters above the Baikal Lake.

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Tourist Vilagest of Svyatoy Nos

The largest of them is Kurbulik where about a hundred people live. The word “Kurbulik” that is funny for Russians is translated from the Evenki in a gloomy way – “dead”. Some time ago the village was called in Russian, but it was too sinister even for the intrepid Soviet consciousness, and the Evenki name returned. 

The cape limiting the Kurbulitskaya Gulf from the north is called “Pokoiniki” (“The Dead”) even now. 

There is another small village called Katun and the cordon village of Monakhovo. Monakhovo is also a small village, but it is very useful for tourists and therefore popular. This is a local transport hub: Monakhovo stands at the entrance to the peninsula, it connects car roads, hiking and water routes. 

The majority of minibuses from Ust-Barguzin and Maksimikha go as far as Monakhovo. Several tourist trails begin from the village. One of them leads along the coast to the Chivyrkuiskaya Bay; it takes 5-6 hours of walk with many ups and downs. Another one leads you to the coast of the Zmeevaya Bay, to the springs. In addition, a water route around the peninsula and through the waters of the Chivyrkuysky Bay starts in Monakhovo. 

Once Svyatoy Nos was an island, but over time the deposits of sand from nearby rivers formed a thin bridge connecting it with the mainland - Chivyrkuisky Strait. A paved dirt road is laid on the Strait where the Buryat sacrificial Burkhan post stands. All cars stop here, and the drivers necessarily make offerings to the deity. 

This is the Trans-Baikal tradition: to stop, toss a coin, tie a flap to a branch to honor Burkhan, the god of the eastern coast.

Plan Your Trip to Svyatoy Nos 

A stay on the territory of the Trans-Baikal National Park should be paid. There are barriers and cordons at the entrance where you have to pay for the entrance (150 roubles per day for a passenger car, 300 roubles per day for a truck) and your stay in the park (70 roubles per person per day).

In addition, the inspectors indicate where to stop and explain the rules of staying in the conservation area. Be careful - the ferry across the Barguzin River by which you can reach Ust-Barguzin from the peninsula circulates until 10 p.m. 

It is almost impossible to reach Kurbulik by car: the road is more like a tourist trail, only a SUV can cope with it. You can walk by foot, only due to the nature of the mountainous terrain you will have to make a big detour. It is better to travel through Baikal by boat in summer and on ice in winter. You will have to reach the village of Katun, as isolated from the car road as Kurbulik, also by foot. 

There are no beaches on the side of Barguzinsky Bay, but there are pretty much of them on Chivyrkuiskaya side. Tourist trails on the peninsula are not limited to those that come from Monakhovo. The most popular trail starts in the Glinka tract, climbs to the observation plateau of Svyatoy Nos and descends to the Makarova tract. The name of the route speaks for itself – “The Trail of Tests”. 




Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Baikal Buryatia Russian lakes   

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