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Lake Baikal: Ushkanyi Islands
November 18, 2015 10:44


There are four islands in the archipelago: Bolshoy (“Large”), Tonkiy (“Thin”), Krugly (“Round”) and Dlinny (“Long”).

The last three are sometimes combined into the group of Small Ushkanyi Islands.

One of the main attractions of the archipelago is the legendary Baikal rookeries of very cute and very rare seals. The largest cluster of the rare animals can be found on the Tonkiy Island. The children of Baikal seals are born in the places where the ice is spurred, in a special natural yurt. Little ones, as white as snow,  appear in early March.

Another interesting feature of the islands is an incredible number of ant hills (up to three meters high). This is due to the facts that forest fires occur extremely rarely and there are almost no animals that would feed on ants. The coasts of the islands are covered with deciduous forests.

A lot of rare plants grow here, the majority of them can be found only in the archipelago. These include, for example, “Ushkanya” black birch and the local pine with a fancy winding shape of the trunk. The age of some trees amounts to 300 years. Ushkanyi Islands are named after the gazillion of hares living here, or “ushkans”, as they are called by the locals. According to some data, the number of these animals on the islands has significantly decreased in recent years. There are a lighthouse and a meteorological station on the Bolshoy Island. Their caretakers are the only people who permanently live on the islands.

 In order to visit the islands, you have to obtain a permission from the administration of the park with the office located in the village of Ust-Barguzin (11 Bolnichny Lane, 671623). It is located 260 kilometers from Ulan-Ude. It is permitted to visit the islands by a group consisting of no more than six people and accompanied by an instructor of the reserve. 

The climate on the islands is much milder than in the rest of Buryatia, it is always a few degrees warmer here than at any other point of the Trans-Baikal Park. It is better to go here in summer. The islands can be surrounded by a mysterious fog on windless days. Scenic wild landscape of the islands can be seen in clear weather. 

In addition, summer is the best time to observe the seals that bask on the warm stones. The seals drifting on ice blocks can be seen in May and June. Ushkanyi islands are formed by a kind of stepped blocks. The flat terraces on the slopes of the islands are carved by the Baikal Lake itself, they offer beautiful views of the lake and the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula located nearby. 

The majority of these terraces are found on Small Ushkanyi Islands. Seals are curious and not afraid of photoflash bulbs. Professional photo shoots on the islands should be paid.




Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Baikal     

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