When recently the largest country in the world has announced the list of top 5 most eco-friendly touristic destinations, no surprise Siberia took the lead. As opposed to hip and dynamic cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, this part of Russia conquers you with tranquility and scenic landscapes. A country’s real gem for natural wonders, Siberia is home to five different natural zones from taiga to forests. Particularly remarkable are some monumental nature reserves that were initially created to preserve the unique wildlife of a specific habitat. One of such reserves aka top spot holder in the above-mentioned list is the Baikalsky Nature Reserve. A magnificent reserve located in the southern part of Baikal Lake contains some unique fauna and flora and is a natural lab for many scientists. A truly unearthly locale, the Baikalsky Nature Reserve is a place where subalpine meadows meet taiga.
With the territory of 167, 871 ha, Baikalsky Nature Reserve is located on the adjacent lands of three administrative districts of the Republic of Buryatia: Dzhidinsky, Selenginsky and Kabansky regions. As the main idea behind was to study the natural mountain-taiga complex of Khamar-Daban, the protected area of the reserve has mainly occupied the central part of this massive mountain range. Founded back in 1969, still today the Baikalsky Nature Reserve mainly deals with the nature preservation. So, if once you questioned yourself how does the nature conservation works in Russia, you will fancy this place particularly. The reserve is known for its outstanding research and environmental monitoring, extensive environmental advocacy and education. Also, at present, the reserve serves as a reference area for assessing the impact of agro-industrial wastes on forest ecosystems in the Southern Siberia.
Although the reserve bears the name of Baikalsky and aims at the protection of the southern shores of Baikal Lake, it is in fact cut off from Baikal by the Trans-Siberian Railway line and a highway. Still, it is rich in diverse landscapes as various types of forests, wetlands, and meadows present it. In combination with some other natural factors such as climate, relief, water networks, hard soil, and wildlife, the vegetation makes up a single broad concept known as taiga. Starting in the Tankhoy village, the reserve takes you on an unforgettable adventure around all these beauties starting from the East Siberian Taiga to the Mongolian steppes. The further way you progress through the reserve, the more diverse gets the scenery. Thus, the northern slope of the Khamar-Daban mountain range brings along splendid cedar forests and lush subalpine meadows. If you can already picture this paradise, look below how to reach it.
Although the Baikalsky Nature Reserve is technically located on the territory of Buryatia, it is easier to reach it from the Irkutsk side. I personally would recommend opting for a ride from Irkutsk, as a one-hour bus journey brings you straight to the Tankhoy Village, that is also an unofficial gate to the Baikalsky Nature Reserve. However, if you travel from Ulan-Ude, a capital city of Buryatia, it is better to get a train: spending three to four hours in the comfortable economy class whilst overlooking terrific scenery from the window is worth it, too. After all, it is up to you how to make it to the Baikalsky Nature Reserve, a place where subalpine meadows meet taiga.
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