Americans are spoiled by the vastness of the Great Lakes, but across the Chukchi Sea, Russians have an almost endless gem of their own. Lake Baikal, rightly noted by Live Science as the largest and deepest lake in the world, contains an astonishing 22% of all fresh water on the planet. An absolute dream for enthusiasts of the waterways everywhere, it’s an absolute joy to photograph from the comfort of a boat.
Given the tremendous size of Lake Baikal – it’s a huge 636km in length – it’s important that you stay safe on its water. Bodies of this size can have their own micro-climate. Make sure that you have a predefined route to photograph along, and ensure that you have all of the necessary precautionary measures on your boat – including life belts and life jackets – to minimize the risk of accidents and drowning. However, once you have that in hand, the lake really is bottomless in its appeal. There’s a good reason why UNESCO has assigned it a World Heritage Site title.
The geography of the Lake is incredibly varied. Hot mineral springs rise throughout the area, with the Northern Shore particularly prolific. Several bays pepper the coast, with new ones created through earthquakes and other tectonic action. What’s more, the salinity and mineral level of the water is so low that it is easy to see up to 40m. It’s a dream for photographers, and you will rarely be bored or looking for something new to snap.
Flora and fauna
Where Baikal really shines is in its endemic wildlife and plants. The Baikal seals are the only known freshwater seal in the entire world, making them entirely unique and a rare sight to snap. According to Britannica, there are between 1,500 and 1,800 different plant and animal species that live on or near the surface. Many more are stipulated to live on the floor of the lake, but given that trips are rare due to the depth, nobody can be entirely sure. Make sure you have your camera ready for everything and anything; you’re bound to get unique and creative snaps.
Lake Baikal may feel like another world, and the incredible forces that have come together over time to create this natural wonder almost feel like fate. For your next waterway photography trip, consider a trip to Russia. You will not be disappointed by this Siberian wonderland.