Ask Baikal

Hi there! My name is Maxim Milyutin. I am based in Irkutsk, Russia's Siberia. Traveller, organiser of local travel talks, and owner of Irkutsk hostel. Travel for me is not necessary movement to some place far away from home, it's a state of soul. That's why I like to travel around my home region and and abroad as well. I'm happy to share my knowledge about Baikal with everybody! Feel free to ask me about Lake Baikal via the contact form Tatiana Baksheeva, our previous blog runner, remains with us as a contributor.

5 interesting events that happened at Lake Baikal in 2011

I decided to make a list of interesting events that happened at Lake Baikal in 2011. The Lake is very unique by itself, but there are a lot of people’s stories connected to its existence.

A barrel floating on the sea

In summer 2011 one retired man from Kultuk village decided to swim across Baikal in…a barrel. He was inspired to do such a heroic feat by an old song “Sacred sea, sacred Baikal,” in which the main hero – a state convict – swims across the lake in an omul barrel. Modern barrel was made in accordance of author’s drawings. The vessel consists of two sections – large wooden spools, on outer side of them pieces of foam and empty plastic bottles are fixed. There is a cabin with a table inside the barrel.

However Nikolay Lupynin had more difficulties than his inspirer. The Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES) prohibited this adventure, explaining that he must register the barrel as a vessel and pass through a technical inspection.

The barrel is ready. Photo taken from

Nilolay was not ready to such requirements and wrote a letter to Irkutsk Region Governor with a request for assistance and permit to swim. However, Nikolay didn’t get any answer. But the traveler is not discouraged, he is confident that the voyage will take place in summer 2012. By this time the retiree promises to fulfill all the demands of the MES and will sail according to the official rules.

Swimming across the Lake

In July 2011 an athlete from Lithuania swam across the lake in its deepest and widest point, he overcame 50 kilometers in the cold water of Lake Baikal.  Vidmantas Urbonas started near Cape Nameless in Republic of Buryatia, and finished near Olkhon Island. From time to time he rested, warmed, and then again plunging into cold water.

Vidmantas Urbonas is swimming across Lake Baikal. Photo taken from

After the swim, while resting in Irkutsk, Vidmantas Urbonas met with the Minister of Physical Culture, Sport and Youth Policy of the Irkutsk Region Igor Ivanov. During the meeting, Urbonas proposed to adopt a law for the nature protection of Lake Baikal. The law would obliged everyone who leaves the shores of lake after camping, take the garbage bag or pay a small tax that would go for the installation of dumpsters and cleaning of the lake and its shores. The Minister promised to offer swimmer’s suggestion to the Governor of Irkutsk region.

Extreme Jet-skies expedition

Baikal was swam across, passed on the ice, and flew over. Back in 1996, Irkutsk balloonist Leonid Aminov crossed the lake on a hot air balloon. Although it is believed that aeronautic battalion of Russian army first succeeded to cross Lake Baikal in 1907. They flew over the lake, warming bowl by burning straw. However, there are no true records about this trip.

The extreme jet-skies expedition. Photo taken from

The first experiment by crossing the lake on jet-skies was organized in summer of 2011. Extreme fans came to Baikal from Moscow, Surgut, Krasnoyarsk. They sailed from Irkutsk to Severobaikalsk, then turned around and finished at the Small Sea (which is between Olkhon Island and big land) They used about 11 tons of gasoline. This fact has caused very negative comments from Irkutsk citizens because it’s clear that there is no use to water from such records.

How much is Baikal water cost?

In 2011 scientists estimated the value of the largest freshwater reservoir in Russia. During the study, experts took the average retail price of bottled water and shifted to the reserves of water in the lake. As a result, they’ve counted a cost of all Baikal waters – 7 quadrillion rubles. For clarity, the figure is as follows: 7 000 000 000 000 000 (15 zeros).

Bottled Baikal water. Photo taken from

To Baikal

One more interesting fact that relates to Lake Baikal: the movie filmed by Ulan-Ude filmmakers at the shores of the lake. The romantic comedy “To Baikal” became so popular among regional residents and was included into All-Russia showing. An official day of All-Russia premiere is February 2, 2012.

"To Baikal" movie poster

The film shows the story of a student from St. Petersburg, which takes a documentary on Lake Baikal. Friends from Ulan-Ude are helping him to film this documentary and telling stories about the beauty of the Sacred Lake, while getting into funny situations.

After release in Ulan-Ude, this movie during the first week earned more money than “Pirates of the Caribbean.” (while showed in Ulan-Ude, of courseJ). This is the first precedent in the history of Russian cinema when the local film grossed more than American one at the box office.  And it’s not surprising that the filmmakers are planning to shoot the second part of “To Baikal – 2”.

P.S. I would say some jokes are understandable if you were 20-23 years old resident of our region)

2 comments to 5 interesting events that happened at Lake Baikal in 2011