Lake Baikal, Eastern Siberia, Russia

Also known as:  Lake Baykal, Sacred Sea, Pearl of Siberia, Blue Eye of Siberia, Galapagos of Russia

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Lake Baikal — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Lake Baikal cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Lake Baikal

Russia’s national treasure, Lake Baikal, is the world’s deepest lake and is our planet’s largest freshwater lake measured by water volume. Its bottom is 4,215 feet below sea level. Lake Baikal contains about 1/5 of Earth’s unfrozen surface freshwater. It is also one of the most biologically diverse lakes on Earth.

Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest lake, estimated at 25 to 30 million years old. Because of its location, depth and volume, Lake Baikal rapidly self-purifies. Despite its great depth, it freezes in winter. (Russian minisub dives in 2008 reported its maximum depth at 5,512 feet, but 5,314 is more generally accepted.)

Lake Baikal is a “continental rift lake”, situated in one of the world’s deepest active rifts — ocean-creating phenomena where Earth’s crust separates by a few centimeters every year. Seismic activity occurs every few years, producing natural hot springs.

Lake Baikal’s well-oxygenated water helps to create unique biological habitats for at least 1,500 animal species and 1,000 plant species. Most of these are endemic – found only at Lake Baikal – including “nerpas” (freshwater seals) and omul salmon. The unique Goby fish – completely transparent, with no scales and comprised 1/3 of fat – surfaces at night but must stay deep during the day to prevent sunlight from liquefying its fat.

Fed by more than 300 rivers and streams, Lake Baikal boasts at least 50 species of fish. Fishing and ice-fishing are both supported by outfitters. Game fish include black grayling, perch, omul salmon, pike, umber, bullhead and sturgeon. Big game hunters pursue Manchurian deer, sable, bear, wolves, elk, lynx, wild boar, and more.

Described by the US Geological Survey as a “magnificent natural resource”, Lake Baikal is one of the most intensively studied lakes on Earth. While clearly an unsurpassed natural wonder, Lake Baikal is also a natural beauty, with clean, clear blue water and visibility exceeding 125 feet. Surrounding forests, the majestic Barguzin Mountains, waterfalls, warm-weather boat tours, hiking, plus excellent fishing and hunting make tourism a growing source of income for surrounding residents.

Lake Baikal enthusiasts question its ability to maintain its pristine quality. Some believe that Lake Baikal is “growing warmer, dirtier and more crowded.” They say that Baikal is threatened by increasing tourism by wealthy Russians and others, by global warming, and by a uranium enrichment facility and pollution from factories on its waterfront. Lake Baikal’s future will depend on the Russian government’s commitment to preserve and protect Lake Baikal as a uniquely valuable world resource.

Things to Do at Lake Baikal

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing

Fish Species Found at Lake Baikal

  • Grayling
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Sturgeon

Find Places to Stay at Lake Baikal

If you’re considering a Lake Baikal lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Lake Baikal Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Lake Baikal lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Lake Baikal Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 7,782,336 acres

Shoreline Length: 1,300 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,496 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,496 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,496 feet

Average Depth: 2,487 feet

Maximum Depth: 5,314 feet

Water Volume: 19,261,440,000 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 350 years

Drainage Area: 216,000 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Lake Baikal Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


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