Siberia. A place of exile. A forgotten land. This land, which encompasses roughly 9 percent of Earth’s dry land mass, bears no resemblance to these foreboding images. Instead, it is a place of great beauty. Visit Siberia and enjoy a warm summer day on the shores of Lake Baikal, one of the Central Asia’s greatest natural wonders. Surrounded by mountains and evergreen forests, Baikal is the oldest and deepest lake in the world, and is protected within a vast national park. Freshwater seals swim the lake’s waters, sable and lynx stalk the surrounding wilderness, and the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway runs past its shore.
Irkutsk, the largest city near the lake, was founded in the 1660s, and many historic buildings, including traditional wooden houses and Orthodox churches, survive from the days when it was known as the “Paris of Siberia.” Listvyanka, a charming lakeside village founded by 17th-century pioneers, attracts visitors with its museum of wooden architecture, Baikal Limnological Museum, and the famous Saint Nicholas Church. One of the many historic villages to explore along the shores of Lake Baikal, Listvyanka is situated near the source of the beautiful Angara River, among Siberia’s best kayaking destinations.