Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lago BAIKAL/ Lake BAIKAL

Una vez instalado en Irkutsk, mas o menos ubicado en la ciudad, me empezo la curiosidad de saber que hay en los alrededores. Sitios donde poder encontrar un rato de silencio, una buena caminata, naturaleza... Y por supuesto encontrandonos a 70 kilometros del lago Baikal, este se convirtio en mi objetivo prioritario.



No tarde mucho en alcanzarlo, ya que la formacion a la llegada que la organizacion de acogida, Baikal Environmental Wave, me tenia preparada junto a otra voluntaria estonia y nuestros respectivos "mentores" (Personas que tiran de la cadena en caso de problema) iba a tener lugar en Listvianka, la ciudad a orillas del Baikal mas cercana a Irkutsk, todo un fin de semana. No es la zona mas bonita pero nos brindo unas impresionantes panoramicas del lago, ademas del dia mas frio del ano para algunos y de mi vida, ni mas ni menos que -40C. (Foto1-derecha)

En la formacion a la llegada, nos lo pasamos muy bien, se ve que no es la primera vez que Natasha la presenta, y no se hace pesada en absoluto, y tiene los tiempos muy controlados. No podian haber elegido un mejor alojamiento, se trataba de un complejo turistico compuesto de cabanas de madera siberianas(Foto2-izquierda), que respetaba todas las normas del ecoturismo como no podia ser de otra manera, por lo cual le habian sido otorgado numerosos premios. En las cabanas la calefacion era una chimenea tradicional que utilizaba como combustible madera, la cual habia que salir a recoger de cuando en cuando a la calle. Aunque eso si el bano estaba en el interior de la habitacion, lo que no estan frecuente en este tipo de cabanas.


Ademas por si se nos podia presentar alguna queja, nos invitaron a un restaurante del pueblo donde nos dimos un banquete (En la foto3 de la derecha Natasha preparandose para el mismo) y pude probar uno de los famosos pescados del lago, el Omul (Foto4 de la izda), riquisimo, tanto que mas tarde no me podria resistir a comprarlo en el mercado del pueblo ahumado para cenar (Durante el verano preparan el pescado ahumado, para durante el invierno, mientras el lago esta congelado y no se puede faenar venderlo).


El Sabado como antes mencione, nuestro primer dia en Litsvianka, fue el dia mas frio del ano, se registraron los -40 grados. Pero era mi primera vez en el Baikal y no teniamos la intencion de quedarnos en la cabana, asique nos armamos no solo de ropa sino tambien de valor, y nos lanzamos al reconocimiento de la zona. El paisaje del pueblo era desolador, estaba absolutamente todo congelado (Foto5), senales, casas, coches, el puerto, los barcos... Despues de unos cuarenta minutos de paseo, empezaban los signos de congelacion entre los miembros de la expedicion, con lo que nos refugiamos en una cafeteria, donde Olga nos amenizo con unas cancioncilas tocadas con una guitarra que alguien le habia dejado.

Pero llego el temido momento de abandonar la cafeteria, se hacia tarde ya que Natasha habia contratado una banya (no habria podido tener una mejor idea este dia-foto6 de la izda)). El sol ya sa habia ido, y el viento soplaba... Ocurrieron cosas que en otras sitiaciones no tan frias me habian pasado como que los guantes se conjelaran completamente, no sentir lo pies, no sentir la cara (Las orejas y la nariz duelen mucho hasta que se congelan, luego no hay de que preocuparse)...pero nunca habia sentido congelarseme los ojos,cada vez que pestaneaba los parpados amagaban de pegarse con el globulo ocular.


Una vez de vuelta a la cabana, y tras todos y cada uno haber arrimado el culo a la chimenea, llego la hora de la Banya. Las chicas me echaron de la cabana mientras se cambiaban, y el dueno del complejo me invito junto con su companero de trabajo, a un tentempie regado con un poco de vino armenio mientras intercambiabamos informacion de nuestros diferentes lugares de procedencia y como el habia acabado poniendo el presente negocio tras haber tenido que cerrar su fabrica de cigarrillos en San Petesburgo por la feroz competencia desde la caida del la URRS.

La banya, o al menos la que me toco experimentar, es mas o menos como una sauna escandinava, pero a diferencia de esta se lleva unas ramas llamadas Venikis, con las que los participantes se masajean el cuerpo unos a otros, a base de golpearse con ellas una vez reblandecidas por el agua. Es muy agradable.... en funcion de quien te fustigue, yo no tengo queja, de echo alli segiria si no fuera porque mis companeras se negaron.
Ademas cuando la temperatura del cuerpo es tan alta que no se puede aguantar mas dentro de la banya, ciertos medicos de cuyo nombre no me acuerdo acosenjan meterse en piscinas de agua frias para bajar la temperatura del cuerpo y volver a la sauna... En nuestro caso no habia piscina, el lago estaba a desmano pero la temperatura del aire de -40C y rodar por la nieve (Foto7 arriba a la derecha) sirvirvieron .

El domingo la temperatura ya se habia suavizado gracias a los vientos templados (-20C, estos siberianos tienen un raro concepto de lo que es templado) procedentes de Mongolia. Por lo que nos decidimos a ir al museo del lago que se situaba a unos dos kilometros del pueblo. Por el camino el resultado de las bajisimas temperaturas del dia anterior nos permitieron tomar increibles fotografias(Fotos 8 y9)



















De hecho fue mucho mas interesante el paseo hasta el museo, que lo que fue la visita propiamente. No es que el museo estuviera mal, pero es que el lago este dia fue un autentico espectaculo, los colores del cielo jugando con la nubes, las montanas al otro lado del lago, todo congelado... Y un paisano pescando con -20C tranquilamente (Fotos 10 y 11)



















Y el lago se comportaba mas bien como un pequeno mar y no precisamente en calma, las olas golpeaban con fuerza la orilla como se puede ver en las siguientes fotos (Pics 12 y 13)



















En el museo explican como el Lago Baikal es uno de los mas grandes del mundo con sus 680km de largo X sus 80 km de ancho en forma de platano, y el mas profundo del mundo ademas de contener el 20% del agua dulce no congelada del mundo, lo cual da una idea de su importancia y tambien de la importancia de su conservacion.
Se explica tambien la dinamica del lago y sus especies animales y vegetales y que no me voy a extender aqui porque no viene a cuento. Otra parte del museo consiste enun modesto acuario (Foto 14) donde podemos ver las especies piscicolas mas representativas del lago y en una pecera que en mi opinion dista en mucho de ser suficientemente grande podemos observar 2 focas Nerpa(Foto15), unica foca del mundo que vive en lago. Se caracterizan por ser mas pequenas que su equivalente marino, y por tener unos ojos negros grandes y muy penetrantes.
La ultima de las actividades propuestas en el museo consiste en una pelicula que resume el viaje de un submarino a traves de los casi 1650 metros de profundidad del lago. Para ello te meten en una habitacion en forma de submarino y una mujer que hace de conductora explica lo que se encuentra a diferentes profundidades, muy didactico.



Como fin de semana panoramico para abrir boca, no estuvo mal, pero lo que yo realmente queria era disfrutar activamente del lago, asique volvi los dos fines de semana siguiente:


- El primero de ellos, junto con Andreas(Foto16-a la derecha) una pequena ruta de unos 15-20 kilometros que transcurria entre montes y bosqes de coniferas (Foto 17 a la izda) cubiertos de nieve hasta llegar al Baikal a la altura del pueblo "Angalskoe", al sur-este del lago Baikal. Que luego bordeando el lago siguiendo los railes del tren (Foto 18-abajo a la izda) nos llevaria a Kultuk donde debiamos de coger el "elektrichiski" (Equivalente al tren de cercanias en Espana, para en todas las estaciones) de regreso a Irkutsk.
En el camino desde Angalskoe a Kultuk, nos encontramos este monumento sovietico en recuerdo de un naufragio acontecido y en el que un joven perdio la visa enlas frias aguas del lago (Foto 19-Abajo a la derecha)




















-El segundo, junto con Andreas de Alemania, Thomas de Eslovenia, Miriam de Estonia y hablando en ruso, menuda mezcla. La idea era parecida, atravesar los bosques y colinas que nos separaban del lago Baikal, pero esta vez desde mas lejos. La ruta la dividimos en dos dias, el primero consistiria en unos 25-30 km hasta Angalskoe donde hariamos noche en el albergue. Y el segundo dia, cubrir la distancia de unos 25 km que nos separaba de Sliudanka.


El primer dia fue complejo, ya que el camino no estaba marcado en primer lugar y tenia unos 50 cm de nieve que habia caido recientemente con lo que caminar se hacia muy pesado en sugundo lugar(Fotos 20 y 21).

Pero por fin alcanzamos el Lago Baikal (Fotos 22 ,23 y 24) a la altura del famoso Km 149 de la via del circunbaikal. Para alcanzar Angalskoe, nuestro destino para hacer noche, deberiamos de























seguir la via, trayecto en el que nos encontrariamos cruzando tuneles (Fotos 25 y 26) en los cuales no se veia absolutamente nada y solo rozando la via con los pies nos podiamos orientar, experiencia bastante divertida aunque ciertamente peligrosa si tenemos en cuenta que la via esta en funcionamiento aunque el trafico es muy escaso. Al fin tras algo mas de tres horas desde que por primera vez vimos el Baikal y ya hacia un rato con la luna brillando sobre nuestras cabezas llegamos a Angalskoe.


















El segundo dia, con la baja de Miriam a la que el dia anterior le habia castigado el largo y exigente camino que decidio volver en tren desde Angalskoe, fue mucho mas relajado tanto en la dureza del terreno como en su orientacion. Nos desplazariamos de norte a sur por la costa este del lago, pudiendo siguir en la mayoria de los casos con la vista la orilla del lago Baikal.

Nos levantamos temprano para ver el amanecer sobre el lago (Foto 27), y posteriormente nos metimos un desayuno de campeones en la "stalovaya" (comedor) del albergue.

La primera parte del trayecto, durante aproximadamente tres horas que separaban Angalskoe de Kultuk, el camino era comun al del fin de semana anterior.

Una vez en Kultuk hicimos un pequeno descanso en una tienda del pueblo, donde tambien conseguimos un te caliente. La segunda parte, correspondia a cubrir el camino entre Kultuk y Sliudanka, para lo cual no existe un camino marcado, con lo que nos vimos saltando vallas, cruzando rios helados, las vias del tren de izquierda a derecha y de derecha a izquierda...

Ya cerca de Sliudanka, y por fin al refugio del fuerte y helado viento que nos habia acompanado desde Kultuk, paramos para comer en un lagar precioso en el agua del lago Baikal cubria congelada la superficie de las rocas que se encontraban en la orilla, dando lugar a diversidad de formas(Foto29).
















La ciudad de Sliudanka, no ofrece encantos turisticos relevantes, en la mayoria de los casos solo constituye un punto importante de transporte. Sin embargo en mi opinion guarda el encanto de una ciudad rusa a la cual no se a cubierto de pintura para presentarla al mundo, en sus edificios sovieticos con pintura descascarillada y bolsas de pielmini colgando de las ventanas, casas de madera siberianas y a orillas del lago Baikal (Alli se pueden ver donde se prepara y almacena el pescado ahumado durante el verano)... que mas se puede pedir.
A la derecha la estacion del tren de Sliudanka,(Foto29) famosa por estar construida de piedra.

Desde alli regresamos a Irkutsk en Marshrutka, mas cara y peligrosa, ya que el siguiente tren que unia a Sludianka con Irkutsk llegaria tres horas mas tarde. Este viaje en marshrutka lo recordare toda mi vida, nos pasamos todo el camino adelantando a coches por el medio de la calzada al estilo ruso, frenazos, bandazos de un lado al otro al tomar las curvas con exceso de velocidad... Una verdadera aventura.

------- ENGLISH VERSION------------------------------

Once settled down Irkutsk, I started to feel curious of knowing what is possible to find around the city. Places where to find silence and peace for a while, a good hike, wild nature… And course, being located only 70 km away from the Lake Baikal, it became my first goal.

It didn’t take my too long to reach it, since the ‘ On arrival training’ that the organization, “Baikal Environmental Wave” had prepared for me and also for another volunteer from Estonia and our mentors (People who help us in case of problem) was going to take place at Litsvianka, the closest city at the bank of Baikal from Irkutsk, and a whole weekend. Is not the nicest part, but still offered us incredible panoramics apart from the coldest day of the year for people from Irkutsk and for me the coldest in my whole life, it was -40 degree (Fot-1))

The ‘On arrival training’ was very funny, and was also evident that it wasn’t the first time for Natasha to present it, it wasn’t boring at all, and she has everything really good organized. The accommodation wouldn’t have been better, it was a Siberian wooden houses complex (.Foto2-izquierda) which was an example of eco tourism, and they had got many prizes because of this. The heating system was a traditional chimney, and the combustible was wood, which was placed outside and was needed to pick up from time to time. But it is also true that the toilet was located inside which is not very frequent for these kind of cabins.

Furthermore to avoid any complaint, they invited us to a lunch at a restaurant downtown, where a feast was offered to us. (Pic-3 Natasha preparing herself for it) There I could taste on of the most famous fishes of the lake, the ‘Omul’(Pic4), very tasty, and I couldn’t avoid buy some more, smoked this time, at the town’s market later on. (During the summer people prepare smoked fish, in order to have fish enough during the winter when the lake is frozen).

This Saturday, as I have already said, it was the coldest day of the year in Litsvianka, as cold as -40 degrees. But it was my first time at Baikal and we weren’t up to stay at the cabin, so that after wearing our best clothes and plucking up courage, we recon the area. The sight downtown was devastating; everything was completely frozen (Pic-5), signs, houses, the docks, boats… After some 45 minutes walking, we started to feel frozen and decided to call into a coffee shop, where Olga, one of the mentors, played some Russian popular songs with a guitar who someone had given to her.

The moment we were afraid of had come, it was time to leave the coffee shop, it was starting to be late and Natasha had contracted a Banya for a certain time (This idea wouldn’t had been better for a day like this. Pic-6). The sun was gone and the wind was blowing… I had already been under very cold conditions when the gloves were completely frozen, I didn’t feel my feet, my face was not red but white after been red! (The nose and ears hurt only until be frozen, afterwards everything is fine, no more pain…)… But what I never had before was to feel my eyes frozen, every single time I tried to blink and my eyelids were getting stuck.

Back in the cabin, after warming up our asses by placing them close to the chimney, the banya time had come. The girls kicked my ass out the cabin while they were changing their clothes, but I was invited by the complex owner and his friend to drink a glass of Armenian wine and share their dinner. We very nicely chatted about own respective countries and how we had ended up there. He was a business man in Sant Petesburgh, he had his own cigarettes company, but after the Sovietic Union collapse there was too much competence and he decided to close the factory and build up this complex with the money he had left.

Banya, at least the one we had, was pretty much the same as the Scandinavian, the only difference I found was that in Banya a branch called Venikis may be used to massage each other by hitting each other with them (They are soften by placing them in warm water). In came up that is very nice…. Depending on who is massaging you, I have no complaint because I still would be there if my partners wouldn’t have refused.

Also when the body’s temperature is so high that you cant longer stay inside banya, there are certain so called doctors which name never came up, who advise to have a dip into cool water pools…This time the lake was too far , but the air temperature was -40C and rolling over the snow was a good alternative (Foto7,up to the right)



On Sunday the temperature change and became milder thanks to the mild winds coming from Mongolia, so that we decided to call into the Lake’s museum which was situated about 2 km from the town. On the way there, resulting from the low temperatures reached the day after, we could take unusual but amazing pictures (Foto8 y 9).

Actually the walk for getting to the museum was more interesting than the visit itself. The museum was ok, quite interesting but this day lake Baikal was an spectacle, the sky was colorful, the mountains on the other side of the lake plenty of snow, everything frozen all over… An a guy peacefully fishing when the temperature was about -20C. (Fotos 10 y 11)

Apart from that the lake’s behavior was like a rough sea, the waves were hitting one time and another the bank of Baikal (Pics 12 y 13)


In the museum there were some explanations about how lake Baikal is one of the biggest of the world with it’s 680km wide and it’s 80 km wide banana like, as well as the deepest in the world, which gives an idea about how important it is as well as it’s conservation.

The complex lake dynamic it is also explained, the flora and fauna, but I wont spent more time on it.

Other part of the museum consisted of a humble aquarium (Foto 14)where we can see the fish species that we can find in the lake and also another aquarium (Not big enough at all, under my point of view) where a couple of Nerpas (Foto 15) may be seen, which is the only seal in the world which lives in a lake. It is clearly smaller than the equivalent founded in the oceans and they have big rounded penetrating black eyes.

And the last activity proposed it is a film, inside a room submarine like, which resumes the submarine trip down the 1650meters of the lake. There is a person telling whats going on at each depth, it is very didactic.

As panoramic weekend it wasn’t bad at all, but what I really wanted was to enjoy the lake by walking, so that I went back the next two weekends:

- The first of them was with Andreas (Foto16-to the right), it was a not very long itinerary , about 15-20 km, crossing hills and forest covered by snow until reaching lake Baikal at "Angalskoe", to the south-east of Baikal. And afterwards it continued following the railways along the bank of the lake (Foto18-down to the left) to Kultuk, where we had to take the “elektrichiki” (It is a train stopping at every single stop on the way) back to Irkutsk.

On the way from Angalskoe to Kultuk, we found an old, sovietic monument in memory of a shipwreck, in which a youngster lost his life (Foto 19-down to the right)

-The second one, was with Andreas from Germany, Thomas from Slovenia, Mirjam from Estonia and all speaking in Russian, what a mix!. The idea was similar to the first excursion, to cross hills and forest that were separating us from Baikal, but this time from further. We divided the itinerary in two days. The first one was 25-30 km long until Angasolkoe, where we stayed overnight in a hostel. The second day was about 25 km long until Sliudanka.
The first day was very hard due to the itinerary wasn’t properly marked and also because the snow accumulated, until the knee and recently, so that walking wasn’t that easy (Fotos 20-21).

But all together, at the end we reached the lake Baikal (Fotos 22, 23 y 24) by the famous km 149of the circumbaikal’s railway. In order to get to Angalskoe, our final destiny for this day, we had to follow the railway, which had several tunnels to cross (Fotos 25 y 26). Which came up not to be as easy as we expected, since there were pretty long and without light, so that the only way to know where we were was walking with one of the railways between our legs, it was quite funny but certainly dangerous if we take into account that the railway wasn’t abandoned though it is also true that the trains were sheldom. At the end, after a bit more than three hours since when for first time we saw the lake and when the moon was shinning over us, we arrived to Angasolakoe.


The second day, with Mirjam’s left (The first day was too hard for her, and she didn’t feel with the energy for a new day walking, and finally decided to go back by train to Irkustk from Angasolkoу) by far easier in terms of hardness as well as orientation than the previous day. We were moving from North to the South at the east coast of lake Baikal, being able most of the time to follow with our sight the lake’s shore.
This day we got up early in the morning willing of watching the sunrise from among the mountains (Foto27), and right after, completely frozen we come into the stalovaia (The dining room) in order to have a good breakfast and thus get the energy for another hiking day.

The first part of the walk, the way from Angasolkoe to Kultuk, for about three hours was already known since we had already done it the week before.

Once in Kultuk, after doing a short break at a shop down town where we got some warm tea. We started with the second part of our walk, which corresponded to get from Kultuk to Sliudanka. For this part didn’t exist any way, and we found ourselves jumping over fences, crossing frozen rivers, crossing the railway from the left to the right and from the right to the left….


Already close to Sliudanka, and finally sheltered from the strong and frozen wind which was blowing since we left Kultuk, we stopped in a wonderful place for a lunch break. Lake’s frozen water was covering the rocks at the shore, shaping in many different ways (Foto 29).

Sludianka itself, doesn’t have any touristic highlight, in most of the cases is just a relevant transport point. However, for me had the charm of a real Russian city, which wasn’t cover by paint to present it to the world. You can see it in its faded, old, sovietic building, from their windows there hanging huge bags plenty of pielmeni, wooden Siberian houses at the shore of Baikal (There can be seen, where the smoked fish is prepared in summer)… what else can we ask for.
Sliudanka’s railway station is known because it is build using stone (Foto 29).

From there we did our way back to Irkutsk by marsdrutka, more expensive and dangerous than the train, but our only possibility since the next train was three hours later. I will remember this trip in marshrutka all my life, we were all the way long overtaking cars in the Russian style (Using the line as a third road), hardly breaking, lurching when bending too fast…. A real adventure.

4 comments:

  1. Preciosas las fotos (la de después de la sauna marca mucho estilo mierense)e interesante diario de a bordo. Always nice to hear from you

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  2. que grande Omar!
    ya veo que sigues a lo tuyo, caminatas de 25, 30 kilometros.... jaja, pasando frio... llevate al Ivan que echa de menos esas experiencias!
    Y con vientos "cálidos" de -20º... jaja, mira, acá se quejan de que el invierno es frío porque hace 10º grados a la noche!!!

    abrazos, y sigue poniendo fotos que están buenisimas!

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