Everybody Knows Them

Most Famous Water Bodies of Russia

Any country has absolutely unique objects, which any tourist and traveler wishes to see with their own eyes. The world's biggest country naturally has plenty of such places, even if to mention only the ones related to the element of water. That's why it wasn't easy to pick the most interesting ones, but we did our best to make Top 5 unique water bodies of Russia.

1. Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal will always top the list of Russia's water treasures. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is not a surprise:it's the purest and the deepest freshwater lake in the world and one of the most ancient lakes on Earth — it appeared in the Mezozoic Era nearly 25 million years ago.

Baikal boggles the imagination all year round: here, you can see plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world; visit sacred places in Olkhon, the biggest island in the lake, where shamans used to talk to the supreme powers and offer them sacrifices; get to know the Buryat legends and local cuisine; and try the most beautiful railroad in Russia — the Circum-Baikal Railway. Lake of the Sun — the way Baikal is often called (because there are up to 2,200 sunny hours a year) — will surely leave the warmest memories.

2. The Lena Pillars

The Lena Pillars — a mysterious Yuakut rock forest — stretch along the banks of the Lena River (the longest river in Russia) for dozens of kilometers. Just like Baikal, the Lena Pillars are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They were formed from Cambrian limestone that dates back more than half a billion years. Each layer of theirs is sort of a chronicle of Eurasia's and the whole planet's development: specialists managed to find here the remains of living organisms that were gone millions of years ago, including the fossilized trilobites and mammoths, bison, woolly rhinoceroses that lived there much later. In ancient times, these places were sacred, only the elders and shamans who performed magic rituals were allowed here. Now anyone can go up to the sightseeing platforms on top of the ominous rocks to enjoy a mind-blowing view.

Each layer of theirs is sort of a chronicle of Eurasia's and the whole planet's development: specialists managed to find here the remains of living organisms that were gone millions of years ago, including the fossilized trilobites and mammoths, bison, woolly rhinoceroses that lived there much later.

3. The Valley of Geysers

The Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka is the world's most compact geyser field: the area of only around 4 square kilometers has more than forty geysers and fifty hot springs. The unique place was spotted relatively recently — only in 1941. While the years 2007 and 2014 became fatal for the lost valley: two disastrous landslides changed the relief and the look of the Valley of Geysers for good, having destroyed many waterfalls, basins, and geysers. But little by little, the layer of tuff and clay is broken and water finds new ways to the surface. For example, "Pervenets" (the "First Child", all visible springs in the Valley have their own names) that used to rise above the surface for up to 15 meters, was completely covered with mudflow mass, but later on, a pulsating spring appeared in its place, that in 2015, became a classic geyser that every 15 minutes erupts up to 3 meters high. Getting to the Valley of Geysers is not easy: you will have to take a helicopter, but all the efforts will be more than outweighed.

4. The Putorana Plateau

On the Central Siberian Plateau, above the Arctic Circle, lies the Putorana Plateau. It's truly an empire of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls: now, they occupy about one-tenth of the plateau area, which is over 250,000 square kilometers. The world's northmost plateau is covered with snow and ice almost all year round. The fast-flowing rivers of Putorana freeze down to the bottom. When the thaw period comes and water begins to flow above the ice, huge ice built-ups are formed that fail to melt even in summer. One can walk on them to cross the rivers as if they were bridges. By total freshwater reserves, the Putorana Plateau lakes yield only to Lake Baikal. One of the most famous lakes, the picturesque Lake Vivi is the geographical center of Russia. The Putorana Plateau also has several thousand waterfalls. The Talnikovy Waterfall is the highest one in Asia: its water falls from the height of a 200-storied building. Though the Talnikovy can be seen only in summer: it appears when the snow begins to melt. The Putorana Plateau is one of the few places on the planet where almost no man has gone before. It's called the Lost World of Siberia for a good reason.

Asia's highest waterfall, the Talnikovy Waterfall is situated on the Putorana Plateau: its water falls from the height of a 200-storied building. Though the Talnikovy can be seen only in summer: it appears when the snow begins to melt

5. The Great Vasyugan Mire

The Great Vasyugan Mire has an unprecedented composition of natural sites and an exquisitely complex landscape structure. The swamp's area exceeds 52,000 square kilometers making it the world's second largest swamp territory after the Pantanal wetland in South America. And it continues to grow: on average, every year, 18 square kilometers turn into swamp here. During spring floods, when rivers overflow their banks and flood the riverside lowland, the territory of the Vasyugan Mire turns into a vast freshwater basin resembling the sea, which is why in the 19th century it was called "the Vasyugan Sea". The Mire is the main source of freshwater in the region (its reserves are estimated at 400 m3). Another essential function of the Vasyugan Mire is the cleansing of the atmosphere: moor peat absorbs toxic substances, binds carbon, thus preventing the greenhouse effect and saturating the air with oxygen.

These unique bodies of water are just the tip of the list of Russia's water treasures, though now you know for sure with what to begin your acquaintance with the life-giving water of our country.

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