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Chivyrkui fairytale

Source:  Buryatia. The sunny side of Baikal. - Ulan-Ude, 2010. - H. 38-43.

People, who visited Transbaikal national park at least once call this place «the fairytale ot Chivyrkui», «pearl in the Baikal crown».

The national park includes inimitably beautiful island of Chivyrkui bay, Ushkanii islands, huge peninsula called Svyatoi Nos («Holy Nose»), Chivyrkui isthmus and part of Baikal water zone.

Steep shores, snow topped mountains, seal rookeries on the Ushkanii islands, Chivyrkui bay with picturesque bays, thermal hot springs make just some part of all the miracles of the national park. Chivyrkui isthmus with famous sand-drift, long beaches with pure sand and unique marshes are also extremely interesting. Even marshes can be unique, because local marshlands are the biggest water-fowl nestling places of Baikal. Naturally, the marshes are inhabited by otters and muskrats. Wonderful place to spend holidays is Arangatui Lake -a real paradise for fishermen! One can catch perch, pike, grayling and nerfling here.

Where else you can find such a place where you can pick up fallen cedar cones from the ground, where dwarf Siberian pine and steppe poppy are neighbors and where interweaving bird-cherry and pine, are crawling right above the sand? From early spring to late autumn the nature of Chivyrkui isthmus gives lots of flowers, mushrooms and berries.

Ushkanii islands are amazingly interesting, too. Their name alone provokes interest.

The islands present the peaks of Akademicheskii underwater mountain range, sticking out of the water. There are four islands: Bolshoi («Big»), Tonkii («Thin»), Kruglyi («Round») and Dolgii («Long»). The islands have unique flora and fauna and special mild climate. Rocky shores of the islands make perfect place for the seal rookery. Seals (or nerpas) are considered to be a kind of symbol of Baikal. In summer the rookery houses several hundreds of nerpas. There is enough food and it is a safe place for the animals to have rest under the protection of national park regulations. In certain periods it is possible to get a permission for taking photos of the seals here. Bolshoi Island has virgin larch and pine forest, underbrush of Dahurian Rhododendron; one may come across bottle-shaped larches or «Ushkan» birch with black bark and sharp-pointed leaves. Bolshoi Ushkanii Island is also famous for its three caves with the ancient camps of primitive people inside.

It is a big mystery why there are so many ant-hills on the Ushaknii islands - more than 6 thousand up to 170 cm high and 310 cm wide.

There is a weather station here, one of the first Baikal stations, tracing the weather with the help of ancient devices, but still giving the most precise forecast. There is a hundred year old light house, which now is functioning with the help of solar accumulators.

Two or three times in summer over the Ushkanii islands one can see a waterspout in fine hot weather. The waterspout ravages over the islands with great speed - Baikal seems to be a real sea.

It is interesting to go round Bolshoi Ushkanii island both in summer and in winter on ice.

For visiting these unusual islands one needs special permission from the park administration, which is seated in Ust-Barguzin settlement.

Perimeter of the island is just 11 km, but you can see a lot here: a strange stone animal, bending down to the water (rock called «Elephant»), multi-colored marble placers, and in winter - fantastic snow «dens», which do not appear in other parts of the lake.

Totally there are seven islands in Chivyrkui bay, some of them being little rocks sticking out of the water, some of them are covered with taiga forest and each one has its name.

One more place of interest is Zmeinaya («Snaky») bay with thermal springs (ternperature 45 C°). People come here to treat radiculitis and osteochondrosis. In the bay close to the springs one can come across relict grass-snakes - this is the clue to the name of the bay (Snaky).

Chivyrkui bay is relatively shallow, that is why water temperature in summer can be up till +23-24 C°. It makes excellent swimming and fishing area.

There are five walking tourist routs going across the national park, the most popular one leads to the highest point of Svyatoi Nos peninsula, from the top of which one can enjoy gorgeous panoramic view on Baikal.

Tourists are attracted here in winter too: the springs do not freeze, they just become overgrown with sumptuous hoarfrost; ice-hummocks   are   glistening   with   precious  gems; all extreme skiing and walking tours  from Severobaikalsk go over the ice past these splendid areas.



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