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Shumak - where earth breaths

Source:  Conservation of natural and cultural heritage of Baikal

On the new 2010 year eve the President of the Republic of Buryatia signed the Resolution 454 "On the establishment of natural park Shumak". Imagine the beautiful river valley, surrounded at east and west with steep woody slopes, and at the north-east - with the plumb walls of majestic goletzes surrounded everywhere with alpine meadows. And it is the only place on Earth where one valley (at 1,558 m height above sea) gathered over a hundred of healing springs - radon, thermal and bicarbonate. Water of each just like the finely tuned fork selectively effects on any human body organ returning it to the natural state of balance and harmony - to health.

Over 100 healing springs

The healing Shumak springs gathered all best features of mineral waters of Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk and Tzkhaltubo. Amazing, there could be few outlets of mineral water from under one stone, and each spring could have its own temperature, taste and gas saturation. The water is available for not only drinking, but for warm radon baths. Its temperature varies from +10 to+35 °C.

All springs are located at three sites: one at the right and two at the left banks of Shumak river. There are radon baths and eye spring located at the right bank. The left one concentrated the major amount of springs, therapeutic mud and nephritic and cardiac baths.

All springs have their names and numbers. Thus, there's a spring "Stomach", 35 "Nerves", 69 "Heart" etc. Such a combination of valuable healing features is unique for the Siberian territory. Strict rules from long ago prescribed to not even finger the spring's holes for valley visitors. Water was accurately spooned without deepening the floor. Each spring was provided with the can made op the birch bark near it in order everybody could drink and put it back. It was strictly restricted to litter and use soap at springs.

Shumak - is the open-air museum with the emitting of heat and, radon from our Mother Earth at the earth's crust fracture place, as well as with exhibits hand-made by people lived here in the summer period.

Thanksgiving, for the sake of

The person arrived here for the first time will be surprised with abundance of sheds protecting from bad weather, and various things spread out on shelves: necklaces, earrings, mirrors, matches, lighters, used barrels - hard to list everything. The abundance of coins in stones, sculptures made of wood and idols is surprising as well. A lot of trees tied with bands on branches are here. The small bridge "Lady's Caprice" at the ring trail crossing along the springs of the left bank is unusual, as well as a lot more.

It seems firstly that this all is only exotic like Easter island idols. But than shortly you are getting that all these exhibits are tribute to Shu-mak-the-healer. It him the visitors are leaving their handcrafts: wooden toys, mockups of airplanes, helicopters, daggers. These gifts are collecting for decades under the sheds. The objects are available for long looking, taking in hands, but not away.

According to one of superstitions Shumal has two mistresses - two sisters, beautiful girls some when living. The girls had two admires. One day they left for town to but wedding gifts. At the same time there was an epidemic of a teerible

disease in Shumak village. The beautiful sisters got sick and died. And the love of the young men was so strong that local citizens consider the sisters as the mistresses of Shumak. Since then there is a habit in Shumak to bring two gifts as a donation.

So different excursions

The surroundings of Shumak are a subject of interest for curious vacationer. It is possible to make excursions to the waterfalls of the Right Shumak, to the lakes of Beriozovy (Perevalny) rivulet upper stream, to the marble lake, to so called columns, outliers conglomerates, and to located opposite to them praying site with donation place, which is also visited by bears attracted with the flavor of candies left by tourists.

The excursion to sacred Columns is fascinating and educative. The Columns - is a rock on the left bank of Shumak river, which slope once crumbled in a form of a columns. There's a detached column either. This is a natural phenomenon but very mysterious. Neither snow, nor rain is harmful for the Columns. It is considered that the guard spirit of Shumak is dwelling here. Substance and energy are combined in a specific way here. Many generations of ancestry revering this site left their positive energy of thoughts and senses here. There are two statutes on the right bank of Shumak river opposite to the unique rock: women's heads. Buryat men come here to meditate, they say they visualize their future. Infertile women ask for kids (this place is often named as Women's valley). And it helps - they give births.

It's possible to make a radial escape towards the peak of Three Captains. The way to saddle before the peak lies along the small river in Graphite canyon. The rocks and talus of the canyon is made of graphite. The fanciful figures and paintings generated in the places where the bedding is manifested clearly. The gorgeous panorama of mountains is opened from already the saddle! Below the winterings are visible like a small spots, Shumak is twisted like a serpent.

Excursion to the Marble waterfalls is quite and shortest. The beautiful mountainous cascade of waterfalls and washed vanes are combining with rocks surrounded them in harmony. The sound of waterfalls is calming! There are blueberry, honeysuckle and many other beneficial plants growing around.

Another radial escape could be the walk to the Golden lake. According to one of the legends the gold pieces of a fist size were found here, but people who did it disappeared under the strange circumstances. Since then nobody had managed to find that rich gold deposit. A lot of wild onion and sagandailya (Rhododendron adamsii) is growing along the road to the lake.

Who's blowing round us?

The shortest distances to nearest settlements are: Khoitogol village - 38 km, Nilova Pustyn town - 33 km, Arshan town in Tunkinsky district - 39 km, and Samarta village of Okinsky district - 50 km. Thank to its remoteness and hard-to-reach-ness the wild resort was conserved in almost virginity for a long time. It was possible to get there by foot and horseback. Now it's possible to use helicopter.

The majority of visitors to Shymak is reported in summer and gradually decreases in fall period. According to materials of the 'Shumak-gol' project of the Tim" tourist club the Shumak locality was attended by around 3,000 in 1996. Further, according to data of the staff member of "Oka-Shumak" Ltd. in 2006 Shumak was visited by around 4000 persons, from which 200 were brought by helicopter and the rest - by foot or horseback. All visitors The first one - citizens of Tunkinsky valley (the largest group before the beginning of haying time in late July - early August). They usually visiting with families and occupy the log-houses previously erected by themselves. Thus, in July 1995 in only one day over 150 local citizens and herd of 70 horses were registered at Shumak. The Okinsky district citizens are rare visitors to Shumak. As Shumak springs are distanced for the majority of villages and uluses of Oki, its citizens prefer to recreate at closer mineral springs (Zhoigan, Tissinsky's, Shutlukay etc.).

The second - are sport tourist groups, scheduled day's rests or base camps for  radial escapes to and rafting in Kitoy river. Their number was constantly growing in recent years due to the deterioration of situation in traditional tourist regions (Pamir, Tien Shan and Caucasus).

And the third one - commercial excursion-recreational groups. As a rule these  are  the helicopter tours performed by the "Oka-Shumak" Ltd., Irkutsk air-plant, Regional tourist agency "Baikaltur" and others. Also these could include paid groups, which are brought to Shumak     annually by individual-guides from set dements of Tunkinsky valley - Khoitogol, Shimki, Turan, Arshan, as well as from Ulan-Ude, Irkutsk and Angarsk.

The geography of those visiting Shumak is enough wide. Russians from Kaliningrad to Sakhalin are improving their health here, and in recent years the flow of foreign tourists increased as well. The chassis of permanent visitors is made of people who visit Shumak for several years; they are trying to maintain the necessary order and sanitary condition of the locality.

The capital buildings are lacking at the developed area. The existing buildings could be divided in two types: log houses (izba) made of mostly cedar and spruce and prefabricated buildings of cottage type. The property rights for log houses and adjacent land parts are not legalized still. Some of the constructions have signs indicating the building and supposed owners as well as builders. Also many log houses have signs with rules how to behave at Shumak and calls for keeping order and cleanness; there are tableware, salt, matches, candles and firewood stock. Some houses also have even guitars and icons. Houses are never locked here and anyone desiring could occupy them 'til the master would arrive. The nature itself tunes in people for' peacefulness, and this atmosphere attracts here a lot of people who are healing not only body here, but the soul as well.

However, some part of visitors unfortunately thought only on satisfying their pragmatic needs forgetting that they are staying at the special sacral natural area. The number of such is growing unfortunately. Due to this the anthropogenic stress on Shumak: unauthorized felling; littering of area with domestic wastes; unregulated pasture of pack horses; trampling down by visitors of surface plant and soil cover close to springs; collection of medicinal plants in big amounts; poaching.

Special status

The Government of the Republic of Buryatia being anxious of the state of the unique site and threat of its extinct had requested the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Republic of Buryatia establish the specially protected area here - the natural park "Shumak". The Federal law 33-FZ "On SPAs" provided that the natural parks are environmental protection recreational institutions under the authority of the Russian Federation subjects, which territories include natural complexes and objects of significant ecological and aesthetic value and are aimed at use as environmental protection, educational and recreational purposes. The territories of natural parks are located on lands provided for perpetual (permanent) use, in individual cases - on lands of other users, as well as owners. The article 19 of the Federal law "On SPAs" establishes that the decision on establishment of national parks shall be made by the bodies of the state power of the Russian Federation subjects upon the proposal of the federal executive bodies in the field of the environmental protection.

Aimed at the implementation of this request the action plan on natural park organization was developed and endorsed by the Minister of Natural Resources. The organization of park

envisaged the carrying out of a number of required by the acting legislation arrangements, inter alia: integrated ecological survey of the area; public hearings in Okinsky and Tunkinsky districts; preparation and publishing of articles to spot out this activity; state environmental expertise; agreement with all agencies and ministries concerned; receiving of proposal from and agreement of materials at the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation (MNR RF); drafting of the resolution on and Statute of the natural park. All clauses related to the development of materials were implemented within half a year and provided to the MNR RF, where they passed through the agreement in various departments and divisions. But, as it goes, everything has its beginning and its end: the materials were endorsed in Moscow - the proposal and agreement were obtained. At the present time the Resolution 454 of December 7, 2009 "On establishment of the natural park "Shumak" was signed by the President of the Republic of Buryatia. The Ministry of Natural Resources of the Republic of Buryatia is commencing the establishment process - organization of the Republican state institution natural park "Shumak". There's a lot of concerns and efforts ahead related to the conservation of this unique part of our Republic.











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