A friend we met on the Trans-Siberian train took my dad and I from Irkutsk to Listvyanka on the bus today. I am sure you read on Thursday how I thought Irkutsk was only ok. Well being able to go to Listvyanka made up for it.
This small town is right on the shore of Lake Baikal, which happens to be the largest fresh water lake in the world. This lake contains 20% of the world’s unfrozen fresh water. Also, at 5387 feet, it is the deepest lake in the world. Think about that, it is over a mile deep!
The coolest thing is that this lake has its own seal population, called nerpa, and in Listvyanka you can see some at the Nerpinary where they have four train seals that perform hour long shows.
You can also learn about the seals and the lake at the Baikal Limnology Museum. Here they have displays explaining how the lake was formed 25 million years ago, making it the oldest lake in the world, and different bird, fish, and animal living in the lake. There’s also a section on human history around the lake and a live aquarium with seals and fish that you can watch.
All of this is great but my favorite part of the museum is the movie they have showing the lake from a submarine. The theater is shaped like a big sub and each “porthole” has a different angle. The 15 minute show drops from the surface all the way to the lake floor, telling you about each level of the lake. Totally worth it.
In between these two places we had lunch and walked through the market. It is amazing how many people were selling smoked fish here. Other things you might enjoy are the old church and the solar telescope. Of course you can just enjoy walking along the lake shore like we did before we had to catch the bus back to Irkutsk so we could get back on the Trans-Siberian train and finish our adventure. I will tell you more about the this train ride on Tuesday.
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