Zabaikalsky National Park

The park was established in 1986 in order to preserve the unique ecosystems of the north-eastern part Lake Baikal, which is part of the World Heritage List. The park is situated in a typical mountain-taiga region. There are two mountain ranges within the park’s territory: the Barguzinsky and the Sredinny Ranges. The highest point of the Barguzinsky Range is 2376 metres above sea level. The range gradually descends from the Barguzinsky reserve to Lake Bormashovoye. The Sredinny Range with its highest point of 1877 metres above sea level descends to the south and to the north.

The Chivyrkuysky Isthmus connects the Saint Nose peninsula with Baikal’s eastern coast. The Ushkanyee Islands (the Big and the Small Island) are in fact the top of the underwater Academic Range that divide the Baikal depression into two kettle holes – the southern and the northern depressions.

The park is situated in the Republic of Buryatia. The following geographic objects fall within the park’s borders: the southern part of the Barguzinsky Range, the Saint Nose peninsula, the Chivyrkuysky Isthmus, the Ushkanyee Islands, the water area of Chivyrkuysky Bay and a part of the water area of Barguzinsky Bay.

The north-to-south length of the park is 83 kilometres while the length from west to east is 88 km. The area of the park is 268.1 thousand hectares, including 37,000 hectares of the Baikal’s water area. The total area of the protective zone is 64.4 thousand hectares (54.6 thousand hectares of Lake Baikal).

There are two ways one can get to the Ust-Barguzin village: the overland and the water route. The water route is accessible only in summer via charters from other coastal towns and villages: the Listvyanki village, port of Baikal, Khuzhir, Nizhneangarsk. The overland route goes from Irkutsk along the Baikal’s coastal line and via the Tataurovo-Turuntayevo ferry bypassing Ulan-Ude. There is a second overland route to Ust-Barguzin going from Ulan-Ude (275 km).

Lakes, Rivers and Hot Springs
The biggest interior park’s lakes – Arangatuy and Small Arangatuy – are situated at the Chivyrkuysky Isthmus and connected with the Chivyrkuysky Bay. The third main lake, Bormashovoye, is famous for its mineral waters. There are more than 20 karst lakes in the park.

A number of small rivers flow through the park’s territory. They all flow into the Baikal. The most significant rivers are: Big Cheremshana, Small Cheremshana and Bit Chivyrkuy. The most famous hot springs are Zmeinny, Nechayevsky and Kulinoye.

Plant Life
The park’s territory belongs to the forest zone of the southern Siberian taiga. The altitude zone, typical for the Trans-Baikal mountains, is clearly seen in the structure of the vegetation cover.

The coniferous species prevail in the composition of the forest vegetation: pine, Siberian dwarf-pine, cedar, Dahurian larch and Siberian fir-tree. The broad-leaved plants occupy small areas and are represented by stone birch, broad-leaved birch and aspen. Most of the park’s mountain-taiga forests are made up of coniferous woods. They also prevail at the Barguzin Range’s western slope. Dark coniferous forests (Siberian fir-tree) occupy separate areas and are more common for the humid parts of Baikal’s coast; they are also encountered at north-eastern part of the Saint Nose peninsula. The Siberian dwarf pine grows at the eastern coast of the lake Baikal.

The flora of vascular plant species contains over 700 species. There are many endemic, rare and relict plants in the park. More than 10 thousand hectares of valuable natural vegetation are identified within the park’s territory including pine forests, Dahurian larch woods, cedar and fir-tree forests which are 200 hundred years of age. The especially valuable forest areas include Siberian dwarf pine and dwarf birch forests. Special interest is taken in the Chosenia willow – a rare species that grows at the western border of its area.

Animal Life
The park’s mammal fauna consists of 50 species. The most common rodents are squirrel, chipmunk, red-backed vole, grey-sided vole, muskrat and black-capped marmot. The double-toothed rodents are represented by alpine mouse hare and arctic hare. The common big predators are wolf, fox and bear. The sable is also commonly seen – from the coastal forest zone to the alpine belt. The cloven-foots are elk, red deer, musk deer, rein deer and roe deer.

There are about 250 bird species. The park is rich in water fowl. There are over 20 species of birds of prey in the park. There are 6 species of reptiles and 3 species of amphibians.

The fish fauna of the Barguzinsky and Chivyrkuysky Bays, the park’s lakes and rivers is represented by following species: arctic cisco, common cisco, Siberian grayling, burbot, pike, perch, dace, nerfling and roach.

Rare animals that live in the park include the Baikal black-capped marmot and Baikal seal. The latter is the only representative of pinnipedians making it an endemic Baikal species. The biggest seal population inhabits the Ushkanyee Islands during summer. There is a number of endemic fish species in the lake Baikal: big and little Baikal oilfish, 25 sculpins species. The Siberian sturgeon is an especially valuable and rare animal species.

Natural Attractions
The Chivyrkuysky Bay is one of the most attractive, interesting and visited areas of the park. The bay juts out deeply into the land (its length is 25 km) and is referred to as the most picturesque Baikal bay. The bay’s shores are indented and form a number of small wind-protected coves. The depth of these coves does not exceed 5 metres; the bottom and the beaches are sandy. The water is well heated there in the summertime. There are 7 islands in the bay; each of them is very beautiful when looked at from the water.

The bay is a good place for water journeys and fishing. Sandy beaches, picturesque coves, thermal springs and the bay’s warm waters are favourite places for a holiday. The coastal area of the Barguzinsky Bay is represented by ancient sand bars. Tourists are attracted by long beaches with the purest sand, cherry tree brushes and dwarf pines.

The length of the Barguzinsky plain from Ust-Kut to the north-east is about 250 km. The natural attractions of the plain include the following landmarks: “Suvinian Saxon Castle”, Barkhan-Uula Mountain, numerous mineral and mud springs and salt lakes.

The water-boggy area of the Chivyrkuysky Isthmus is one of the biggest at Baikal’s coastal part. It is one of the three most important nesting places at Baikal region for such birds as white-tailed eagle, fish hawk, eagle owl, golden eagle and peregrine falcon.

Lanscape Monuments
The Ushkanyee Islands consist of four islands (the Big, the Long, the Round and the Thin islands) that form an archipelago. The islands are situated 7 km north from the Saint Nose peninsula. The highest (eastern) part of the Big Island and all other islands are composed of fancy marbles, the hues of which change from light-yellow to dark-cherry. The Islands’ unique vegetation represents a mix of pine woods, steppe plants, mosses and lichen.

Another interesting feature of the islands is the numerous anthills (the density of anthills is up to 10 anthills per 1 hectare; their total number is about 5-6 thousand).

The Onkogonsky Cape is yet another beautiful place of the Baikal. From a distance it resembles a giant hairy boar that came to a watering place. There is a wonderful sandy beach at the cape’s south-western side – a splendid place for swimming and taking a rest. The Malocheremshanskaya Cave is situated at the mouth of the Malaya Cheremshana River, at the eastern coast of the Baikal. The cave’s depth is 15 metres, its height is 10-15 metres and the width at the entrance is 2 metres. The bottom of the cave is covered with flat well-polished pebble. During the melting of the snow a small spring pours down the cave’s rear wall undermining and crushing down stone chips.

The Big Kytylgey (Hairy) Island is situated at the Chivyrkuysky Bay not far from the Kurbulik village. The island’s surface lies at the height of 60 metres. The shores of the island are rocky and steep; the only place where the coast is flat is the southern part of the island. Rare broad-leaved forest grows at the island. From the island’s top one can see the beautiful panorama of the entire Chivyrkuysky Bay. The bird colonies occupy rocky cliffs.

Botanical Natural Landmarks
A unique feature of the Cheremshanskaya Grove is the brushes of tree-like willow – the Chosenia that grow along the river bed of the Big Cheremshana. The plants (where the Chosenia prevails) occupy about 20 hectares. Besides the Chosenia there are aspen, birch, cedar and fir-tree. The average age of the Chosenia is about 90 years; the height of some trees is 10-15 meters. The tree’s bark is very decorative: the adult species have grey bark that exfoliates in separate plates; the young trees have smooth, reddish bark with a bit of bluish hue.

History and Culture
As early as in the 19th century a road was laid along the Barguzin River. The points of interest in the river plain include a merchant town of Barguzin with its ancient buildings (now – the Barguzin village); the Bukhe-Shulun Stone (the Bull-Stone which is a relic of the plain, the symbol of nature’s power and an object of Shamanism); Barkhan-Uula town – one of Buddhism’s 13 sanctuaries, the site of Lamas’ pilgrimage; Buddhist monasteries (datsans); centres of Evenkian culture.

Hunting and Fishing
There is a special water-boggy area in the park (2320 hectares) designated for amateur autumn hunting of water fowl. Other types of hunting are prohibited.
The park visitors are allowed to fish with amateur fishing gear. Certain fish species are allowed to be caught without license all year long. These species are perch, pike, roach, nerfling and catfish. Valuable fish species are permitted to be fished only via special licences. trans siberian railway