Day 99. Lake Baikal. 24th August.

Last night’s camp was by a babbling river. One of the many feeding the lake and an opportunity to fill our depleted water reserves. Baikal is a fresh water sea. Up to 1600m deep and 636km long. According to Lonely Planet, is the largest fresh water lake in the world, by volume. It is also one of the oldest geological features, formed 25-30million years ago. It contains more water than the 5 great lakes of North America, combined and contains 20% of the worlds unfrozen fresh water.

The lake is 70k’s from last night’s camp site along an excellent road. We have spent most of the morning in the village of Goryachinsk updating the blog and watching bathers taking a dip in the lake. By their immediate reaction, it’s pretty cool. It’s also starting to rain. On a clear day it seems the opposite side of the lake is lined by snow covered mountains. Sadly there is no sign of them today. In fact, there seems to be no sign of the other side at all. 

What is interesting is the housing development going on. Amongst the traditional log cabins that make up the majority of dwellings, there are now modern western style homes appearing. This is a trend we are seeing more of, in this part of Russia. The roading in towns and villages is earth, sand or whatever the soil type is. There are beautiful highways but the feed off roads to towns are dirt within 50m of leaving the seal. What we don’t appreciate I guess, is that most of the year they are frozen and negotiable. Even Lake Baikal is frozen in winter and drivable.

Too murky to see far.

Tonights camp, opposite the preceding photo.








Logging appears to be a sizeable activity in this part of Siberia. Geographically, it’s quite handy to the major markets of China and Korea. Nearly every house in this town has a pile of flitches outside it’s gate. Firewood for winter and no doubt it helps the mill clear the debris. There is evidence of selective logging going on too. Similar to what I have seen in Canada. Small areas felled and allowed to recover.

Only 3500k’s to Vladivostok!


Visits: 42


  1. Almost 100 days on the road! How many more?

    I deduce that you decided to deviate from your original route which showed you planning to exit Mongolia further east. Better roads or better scenery?

    • Hi! John, it would take a Hydrological engineer to spot the discrepancy..:) Interestingly the Route Map path was created in a couple of seconds without much thought to complete accuracy. Cathy, who put the site together for us said “what is your route going to be” and printed out a map of the world. I picked up a pen and scribbled a line to represent it, she scanned it and there it is. So, sorry if we are a bit off course, so to speak. Actually, I think the crossing we made is the most eastern one into Russia.


  2. Good going Batmam and Robin. Glad to see you are on the home straight, so to speak. Tell Putin there is a spot as PM for life over here if he wants it. Turnbul rolled by own team, Morrison, finance minister now PM by default. Very much case of last man standing. Oz $ telling the story. AB’s in Auckland will be hard to beat.

    • Hi Bro, Shorten next, nothing that a good socialist couldn’t fix…:) Something to look forward to. It’s a roughhouse, the Australian senate. I haven’t been able to find anything that explains what happened to Turnbull, only who was in line to succeed him.
      I think we are on about the same timeline as you so will be looking forward to following the game on a blog site. Hope you will be able to watch it. Anything could happen. The Aussies will be fired up. May the best team win.
      It seems the last leg of our journey is through pine forests inhabited by mosquito’s so it will be an interesting drive. Lot’s of miles per day should get us there early Sept at the latest. Then the uncertainty of shipping!! It seems the Russian mafia run the port!!

  3. Glad you told us how far it is to Vladivastock. I was going to try and work it out tonight. Are you tempted make a quick dart across China and shorten a bit?? On the yurt/ger theme. I have a great book written by William Coperthwaithe, called a Handmade Life, In search of simplicity. He designed yurts and taught people how to build them. The book is one of my favourites and Worth a read, in my opinion. You might think it is rubbish.

    • Hi Mike and Wendy, no, no desire to enter China with their rules for foreigners. Very happy in Russia. Interesting that we are pretty much on track as far as distance and time are concerned, despite the setbacks. We will build in a little more wriggle time on the next stage though. Love the idea of living in a Yurt. How about designing and building one for us when we visit…:)

      • Funny you should say that Dennis. Not a yurt, but we thought about a Shepherds hut for guests to stay in. they are all the rage in the uk. Has your impression of Russia been different to the one given in the UK media. Before the World Cup the uk media gave the impression that the football fans were entering a hostile environment. However the fans impression seemed to be the opposite.

        • Maybe for B&B huh! Get the pencil going on a design, Mike. You don’t want long term stayers. For cyclists or passers through, perfect.
          The western media will write anything that will sell their newspapers, and of course they play to sympathetic but uneducated public. Russia is great. Sure they have a long way to go yet but they have made massive strides. We haven’t met enough Russians to be any sort of authority on the subject but those we have met have been courteous, friendly, helpful and positive in their attitude. Jen and I were just discussing this an hour or so ago.

  4. It’s a small world, afterall.

    I remember your copy of an early 1980’s Nat. Geographic, with a story on Lake Baikal. I hope it recovered from the Soviet pollution.

  5. Hi Steve, yes it seems the Green movement here were successful in getting a Soviet era mill shut down that was polluting the lake. Te lake is still under threat from over fishing and nutrient leeching from farms. Sound familiar? As a result there is degradation of sponge forests and and algal infestation that is proving hard to stop, despite money being spent. Maybe that money is building the big new houses…:)?

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