May 01, 1997

The Blue Pearl of Siberia

In this, the third installment (see March and April 1997 issues of Russian Life for the first two installments) chronicling Gary and Monica Wescott’s trans-Russia expedition, the authors pause in the Lake Baikal region of Siberia to take a deep breath and watch spring unfold. They intended, Gary said, «to explore every mile of shoreline we could reach by road, and perhaps a few by foot.» By Gary Wescott. Photos by Gary & Monika Wescott


We headed northeast from Irkutsk (called by some the «Paris of Siberia,» though we failed to see the resemblance) to Bayanday, where we cut southeast on dirt roads over the Primorskiy Mountains to the village of Sarma on the river of the same name. About six miles up the coast we found a rocky peninsula where we made our first camp. In front of us, some five miles distant, was the southwestern shore of Olkhon Island, stretching about sixty miles up the lake. Native Buryats call the inner bay «the Little Baikal», and it is considered the most sacred part of the «Holy Sea.»

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