1.Tourism by Lake Baikal
2.Resorts and springs
Every year Lake Baikal attracts dozens of thousands of Russian and foreign tourists. In each season the Baikal is interesting and available for travelling. Most visits are in summer months, the trips are of expedition character, with nights spent in tents or aboard the boats, because there is no developed tourist infrastructure on the shores of the lake. In summer there are some tourist stations there.
In winter the trips are hampered by severe climatic conditions, short daytime and few places for comfortable living outside the cities. In December-January there are frosts at Lake Baikal (sometimes lower than -40˚C), many roads are snow-bound, whereas asphalted roads are slippery with ice. The South Baikal does not freeze until the middle of January. In March the Baikal transparent ice and sparkling ice-hummocks are very impressive. The coastal rocks are decorated with long icy splashes, icicles and stalagmites sparkling under the sun. In March-April motor and bicycle trips on the ice, ice-boating, ski-walks and ice fishing are popular. In May-June the Baikal frees from the ice and it is possible to travel there by boat.
The period from June 15 to August 15 is considered to be the most favourable travelling time. It is sunny then, the days and nights are warm. In the most popular recreation places tent camps appear. At the coasts without motorways there are fewer tourists.
The end of September (Indian summer) attracts artists and photographers with bright autumn colours. The forests on the shores of the Peschanaya bay and the Civyrkuisky gulf and the Maloye More coast are especially beautiful.
The most unfavourable recreation and tourism time in Pribaikalye (the Baikal land) is late autumn (October 15-November 30), because of rainy weather and strong winds. In April-May fires are numerous.
RESORTS AND SPRINGS
The Baikal basin nature is rich in medicinal mineral springs, there are more than 300 mineral springs-arshans on the territory of Buryatia. The word arshan means “holy water” in the Buryat language. In such a way the people highlight the medicinal force of the natural springs. According to the Buryat traditions, having come to the arshan it is necessary to pay tribute to the “holy water” and worship it. Each arshan has got a special place for sacrifice. The rite is started with fastening a band-zalaa to a tree with the request of giving health, then some milk is sprinkled about, some sweet things and coins are placed under the tree. Only after that the arshan is tasted and medical treatment is started.
The Kotelnikovsky spring is situated on the north-western coast of Lake Baikal on the Kotelnikovsky cape. It is the hottest spring by the Baikal. The water temperature is up to +70˚C. It is still the only display of hot waters on the western coast of Lake Baikal. The water of the spring is used to treat the diseases of the motion organs, the nervous system and gynecological diseases.
The Khakusy spring is a balneological resort place. It is situated on the north-eastern coast of the Baikal 1 km away from the Khakusy bay. The spring is the most powerful one by the Baikal with the temperature of 42-46˚C. The water of the spring is used to treat the diseases of the motion organs, the nervous system and gynecological diseases. The nature of the Khakusy bay is exceptionally beautiful. It is famous for its clean air and sandy beach.
The Zhemchug springs. They are situated in the Tunka district on the right bank of the Irkut river. The medicinal hot springs and mud baths are popular with people. In 1954 a well of methane thermal water was opened, 1,026 m deep, 1.5 km away from the village of Zhemchug. On the bank of the Irkut there are mud baths fro unorganized tourists. The medicinal properties of the mud and waters are studied insufficiently. The water is considered to help with joints and nerves diseases.
There are many mineral springs with hot hydrogen sulphide, chalybeate and radon waters in the Barguzin valley. They are the Kuchigersky, the Allinsky and the Garginsky mineral springs. The water temperature of those springs is from 21˚ to 75˚C.
The Kuchigersky spring. It is situated at the foot of the Barguzin mountain range. It is a system of mineral springs and a lake with hydrogen sulphide medicinal mud. The water temperature is from 21˚ to 75˚C. By its chemical composition it is a hydrocarbon-sulphate-sodium compound.
The Chivyrkuisky spring. It is situated to the north-west of the village of Barguzin (124 km). The water temperature is 23˚C.
The Khoito-gol spring. It is in the middle part of the Khoito-gol river (the Oka district). The sources spout from under the boulders on the bank of the stream. The water temperature is 29-30˚C. There are about a dozen of springs with baths by them. The springs are hydrocarbon-sodium-calcium, they have been known since ancient times with the Mongolians and the Tuvinians. The waters are used to treat rheumatic and nervous diseases.
The Tunka valley is famous for its mineral springs. They are country-famous “Arshan” and “Nilova Pustyn” resorts, the Shumak springs and others.
The mineral spring Nilova Pustyn is considered to be a unique natural monument, it was described in 1890 by the geologist V.A. Obruchev. In the early 19th century its medicinal properties became known from the tales of the local people. The discovery was reported to the East Siberia governor V.S. Rupert. In 1840 by his order the chemist Kallau made the first chemical analysis of the springs waters. In 1845 the Irkutsk archbishop Nil Stolbensky organized a pustyn there, a small and secluded monastery.
The waters of Nilova Pustyn are of hyperthermal sulphate and sodium type with the temperature of 41-42˚C, they contain nitrogen, radon and many salts of siliceous acid. There patients with arthritis and polyarthriris are successfully cured, the waters have anti-inflammatory and anaesthetic effect, they improve metabolism and normalize the skin functions. The air is highly saturated with aero-ions: the aero-ionization degree is much higher than in the Crimea and Caucasus resorts.
The Shumak springs are situated in the East Sayan mountains (the Tunka district). The way to Shumak is difficult. It is necessary to walk 70 km and get over the Shumak mountain pass which is exclusively difficult to access (2,932 m), on foot, on horseback or by helicopter. But the beauty of the mountain landscape, the air and the medicinal springs are worth of it. The thermal carbonaceous waters of Shumak are displayed on the surface in three groups looking as numerous griffins. By the biologically active components, by the contents of radon and by their chamical composition the Shumak waters are analogous to the Narzan mineral waters of Pyatigorsk, Truskavets, the waters of Tskhaltubo and Belokurikha resorts. In the whole East Siberia such combination of valuable mineral water properties can be found only there. The Shumak waters are effective for treating urate diathesis, diabetes, disorders of the cardio-vascular and nervous systems and chronic respiratory diseases, alimentary canal, liver and biliar system diseases. The water is recommended to be taken 30-60 minutes before or after meals. The water is considered to be most effective if drunk directly from the spring.
Goryachinsk resort. It is situated on the eastern Baikal coast. The main natural medicinal factor is low mineralized thermal (54.5˚C) nitrous-silicon water (the Goryachinsk mineral spring. Until the early 20th century it was named the Turka spring). The water is used for baths, for medical showers and for drinking. There the diseases of motion, cardio-vascular and nervous systems, respiratory and skin diseases are treated.
Baikalsky bor is a balneological sanatorium. It is situated on the picturesque shore of Lake Kotokel 1 km away from Lake Baikal. The treatment complex includes physiotherapy, massage, inhalation and acupuncture.
Arshan resort was founded in 1920. It is a balneological and climatic resort. It is situated in the East Sayan at the foot of the Tunka bare mountains at the height of 900 m, on the bank of the Kyngerga river. It is popular because of mineral springs with medicinal Narzan waters used as drinking treatment, baths, showers, ablutions etc. The mineral water is used for treatment of the patients with alimentary, cardio-vasular and respiratory systems diseases, the diseases of endocrine system, nutrition, metabolism and urino-genital disorders. The waters have a wide range of temperatures: from cold 11-13˚C to hot ones 45˚C. By their chemical composition they are referred to the first class, the carbonaceous with high gas content. By their physical and chemical properties the Arshan waters are analogous to Kislovodsk Narzan waters, but overcome its mineralization degree.
Not far from the resort there is the Kyngarga river canyon. In winter the swiftly flowing water can be seen through the ice. The river is more than 27 km long from the source to the mouth. The bottom of the canyon is tiled with pink and yellow marble polished by the water. There are waterfalls a little up the river. There are 12 waterfalls on the Kyngarga river. The highest ones fall from the height of about 10 m.
Not far from the arshan there are traces of volcanic activity 10-15 thousand years ago, at the end of the Ice Period. Not far from the road leading to Arshan two cones of extinct volcanoes can be seen. 7 km away from Arshan the volcano of Khara-Boldok covered with forest can be seen. It is cone-shaped and consists of porous, spongy basalt sags.
10 km north-westwards from the resort there are Khoimor lakes. They are reached via the village of Tagarkhai. The lakes are connected by tributaries and rich in fish and waterfowl.
In the vicinity of the village of Tunka, on the hills along the Akhalik and the Tunka rivers various stone, bronze and iron tools of prehistoric people were found, as well as pieces of broken crockery and fossil animals bones (the mammoth, the rhinoceros, the bull etc.).
Nilova Pustyn resort. It is situated 915 m above the sea level, 7 m away from the village of Turan, in the gorge on the banks of the Ikhe-Ugun river, 156 km away from the village of Kultuk. The medicinal properties of the three springs of Nilova Pustyn have been known since 1840. In 1845 the Archbishop of Irkutsk and Nerchinsk Nil Isakovich Stolbensky organized a small and secluded monastery called pustyn, that’s why the resort is called so.
Nowadays Nilova Pustyn is a comfortable centre on the territory of which 13 department health centres of the Irkutsk region and Buryatia are situated. The resort is proud of its mineral waters containing much siliceous acid and fluorine which makes them unfit for being drunk but unique for treating skin and joints diseases. The medicinal waters are close to those of the Georgian springs of “Tskhaltubo” and the Altai resort of “Belokurikha”. The waters temperature is 38-43˚C, the mineralization is 80-100 mg/l, the radioactivity is 24-70 eman/l.
Not far from the resort on the right bank of the Ikhe-Ugun river, 15 m high, there is the big Nilovskaya cave. It is 5 m high, 4.5 m wide and 8 m long.
4 km higher than Pustyn there is a Buddhist datsan (monastery) on the mountain of Kholma-Ula. According to the legend, the god Khan-Shargai-noyon, the head of the Khaates sitting on the Sayan range, landed on the mountain. In 1867, to commemorate the event, a praying house, and afterwards 2 wooden datsans, were built. On the territory of the datsan there is a watch-tower made of a long log with a round wooden barrel on the top. Such a construction is nowhere to be found. According to old-timers’ tales, when lamas converted the local people to Buddhism, they first gathered all the shamans and convinced them to become Buddhists. All the shaman tambourines and clothes were burnt. Sacred relics and silver coins were put into the barrel and raised up high for Buddha to see the presents. The sand on the place of Khan-Shargai-noyon landing is considered to be sacred, a man who takes it gets force.