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Nature Reserves of Siberia. Part 1

The chapter is about how much interesting is stored in the specially protected areas of Siberia, where nature lives...

The purest, tastiest air to inhale after the city; enormous, like giants, mountains, beckoning with their beauty; valleys of coniferous forests; carpets of various grasses; bright turquoise mountain lakes with reflecting peaks and silence with songs of rivers, waterfalls and the polyphony of birds... all these are nature reserves of Siberia!

Siberia has many amazing places for connoisseurs of pristine nature – there are 22 nature reserves on its territory, and each is beautiful and unique.

One of the oldest nature reserves, Barguzin, is located on the northeastern coast of Lake Baikal. Barguzin is a strong easterly wind that blows in these places. The Reserve was founded in 1916 in order to preserve the sable population. Today, the Reserve is home to more than 400,000 individuals, as well as over 40 species of other mammals, including wolves, foxes, brown bears, moose, hares. The main natural attractions of the Reserve are the valley of the Shumilikha River and mountain lakes, the waterfall on Shumilikha, the picturesque Cape Valukan and the Southern Birikan River, on the banks of which there are many rare plants.

In the Putorana Nature Reserve, located in the northwestern part of the Central Siberian Plateau, there is the highest Talnikovy Waterfall in Russia – 700 meters of strength and beauty. In 2010, the Reserve was included in the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List. Once there was a volcano here, but today scientists and tourists from all over the country come here. It is not allowed to get to the Reserve on your own: Tourists are transported from Norilsk, in winter by snowmobiles, and in summer by river. Helicopter tours over the plateau are conducted here for the bravest. Among the special objects of protection are the red-breasted goose, golden eagle, gyrfalcon, white-tailed eagle, Bewick's swan. Lake Vivi, which is also loved by tourists, is located in the Reserve. It is stunning in its beauty and is notable for the fact that its southeastern shore is defined as the geographical center of Russia.

The famous Teletskoye Lake, one of the deepest in Russia and in the world, is located on the territory of the Altai Nature Reserve. The Reserve was established in 1932 to protect the Lake and game animals. Here, transparent lakes are adjacent to highlands and alpine meadows, and the taiga is adjacent to the tundra. Many species of flora and fauna have been preserved in this amazing place. Here you can see unique plants that are listed in the Red Books or on the verge of extinction – Altai rhubarb, Siberian Trout Lily, Siberian globeflower. Reindeer, snow leopards, marals, and Siberian musk deer live here and increase their range.

Another attraction of the Altai Republic is the Katun Nature Reserve, which is located in the highest mountainous part of Altai – on the Katun Ridge. The main waterway of the Reserve is the Katun River, which originates on the southern slope of the Ridge at Belukha Mountain – the highest mountain in Siberia! The protected area is distinguished by its unique fauna: About 55 species of animals live on its territory, including the endangered snow leopard. The Reserve also has its own botanical rarity – Saussurea of Revyakina – a perennial plant with a thick stem, which is easily identified by its purple flowers. Another natural wealth of the Reserve is its lakes, of which there are about 135.

It seems that all the versatility of the landscapes of the Baikal region merged in the Baikal Nature Reserve, which is located on the southern coast of Lake Baikal and in the central part of the Khamar-Daban Range. The largest Nature Reserve is extremely beautiful. Coniferous and deciduous forests are home to more than 300 species of animals: Brown bears, wolves and foxes, wild boars, moose, reindeer and red deer, Siberian roe deer, sables, weasels, stoats, wolverines, as well as river otters, hares, squirrels, chipmunks, Siberian mole, common shrews and voles live here. There are more than 20 red-listed species of flora in the Reserve, including Rhodiola rosea, Iris laevigata, Neottianthe cucullata. You can contemplate the entire unique nature of Lake Baikal during excursions along specially equipped hiking trails.

The Baikal-Lena Nature Reserve is located on the western coast of Lake Baikal – the Lena River, the longest river in Russia, originates here. The Reserve attracts with the beauty of wildlife and the complete absence of civilization. The territory can only be accessed by water, and if you are lucky, you will see the Baikal seal. However, the symbol of the Reserve is considered to be a brown bear – the owner of the taiga can be found here more often than a human. The Reserve was established in 1986 on the initiative of Baikal scientists and serves as a reserve for a large number of animals – sables, otters, musk deer, reindeer and moose; Siberian red deer roam freely on the territory.

The Trans-Baikal National Park, was founded in 1986 to preserve the natural site of the lake basin, is located on the eastern coast of Lake Baikal. The Park includes the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula, the Ushkan Islands (a favorite place of the Red Book Baikal seal) and the Chivyrkuysky Bay. You can get to different parts of the Park using ecological trails. Siberian fir, Siberian cedar, and Scots pine grow on the territory of the Reserve. More than 20 species of plants in the Park are listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. Among the usual inhabitants of the Park are bears, moose, ermines, muskrats, sables, red deer. 19 species of the registered birds are listed in the Red Book: White-tailed eagle, owl, black stork; and of the fish – Baikal sturgeon.

The Trans-Baikal Territory can impress with such nature reserves as Daursky and Sokhondo, which amaze with the scale and grandeur of the steppes and a huge number of lakes. The Torey Lakes, the visiting card of the Daursky Nature Reserve, play an important role in saving unique birds – the black and white-naped crane, bustard, guinea goose and relict gull.

The Sokhondo Nature Reserve occupies an elevated part of the Khentei-Chikoy Highlands. In the center of the Reserve is the Sokhondo Mountain massif, one of the highest and most beautiful peaks of Transbaikal. It is noteworthy that rivers belonging to the basins of different oceans – the Pacific and the Arctic – begin in this mountain knot. The picturesque place of the Reserve is Bukukun Lake, located in the head of the Bukukun River at an altitude of 1884 meters above sea level. The Lake is home to the lenok fish, which, due to its dark color and small size, is classified as a special endemic race. Lenok spawning often attracts brown bears to the shores of the Lake.

In the following material we will continue to talk about the reserves of Siberia and their distinctive features.

In the meantime, we would like to remind you that nature reserves are a specially protected area. Before visiting, please try to learn the general rules. Following simple recommendations will help preserve the beauty of pristine nature, not disrupt the lives of local residents and make your trip exciting and safe.