Trip along the old Baikal railway
The legendary railway was built in the early 20th century and several dozen workers died in its construction. It leads along the shore of Lake Baikal from Sljudjanka to Port Baikal (by the source of Angara river). It originally led on to Irkutsk, but this section was flooded due to building hydroelectric power plant on Angara and a new direct connection Irkutsk-Sljudjanka was built. Thus excursion trains rather than passenger trains run today along the original railway.
The journey begins in Sljudjanka – you can go there easily by trai. At the train station are sold delicious smoked baikal omuls. There is a beach not far from the station, where you can, if necessary, put up a tent. You need to pay attention to glass shards because local drunks do not sort the waste for sure :-)
Villages on the shore of Lake Baikal
There are not many trains running from Sljudjanka to Port-Baikal. There are also trains for tourists available in the main season, but passenger trains usually run as well and they cost a few bucks. But the train does not go every day and is not driving fast. The train really creeps and at each stop it waits quite long, because there is a trade car inside and so the passengers must wait until the locals make their shoppings. The whole journey (85 km) takes up about six hours. So it's not for those who are rushing somewhere, but for those who want to enjoy the coast of Lake Baikal.
The railway runs along the steep banks of Lake Baikal and there are reportedly 57 tunnels and galleries and 248 bridges and viaducts on the 85 km. Due to the low traffic and low speed of passing trains some tourist prefer walking along the railway. However, this means of transportation is of course at own risk.
"Source" of Angara
The final station is in Port-Baikal. This is the place where the only river of Angara flows from Baikal. Calling this place a source is not entirely accurate, because the rate of flow is here approximately 7× larger than the Elbe when it runs to the sea. The place where the river exactly begins is shown on the photo behind the power pole. You can see the „shamanic stone“ in the river which marks the beginning of Angara and a legend relates to it.
The hill directly above the station provides nice views of the beginning of Angara and the station in Port-Baikal, which was built on the soil excavated during the construction of Krugobajkalka tunnels. There is a relatively new " Krugobajkalka Museum " in the station building. A few meters behind the station there is the ferry across Angara river to the village of Listvjanka.
Port-Baikal with an outlook hill
The top of the hill above the station can provide a place for the night in case of emergency. The top is flat and even several tents can be put up here. Just go across the trails and then ascent along some of the paths.
Listvjanka and surroundings
You can get to the other side of Angara to the village of Listvjanka by a ferry from Port-Baikal. A short walk from the ferry there is a museum of Baikal. From Listvjanka you can go to Irkutsk by bus (more than an hour) or hop on one of the cruise ships (which run from Port-Baikal). You can go along the coast through narrow footpaths in the steep slope towards the village of „Bolsoe Koty“ and admire the lake and its steep banks at the same time. Especially at the beginning of the way you can find a place for a tent here.
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