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Introducing Bratsk

A stop in Bratsk neatly breaks a Krasnoyarsk to Severobaikalsk trip into two overnight rides, but a day here is plenty. Its raison d'être is a gigantic 1955 dam (GES), which caused the drowning of the original historic town. New Bratsk is a confusing necklace of disconnected concrete 'subcities' with a high-rise Tsentralny area that is spirit-crushingly dull. It does, however, have two English-speaking tour agencies: Taiga Tours (413 951; taigat@bratsk.net.ru; 2nd fl, Hotel Taiga) and Lovely Tour (Lavli Tur; 433 290; baikal@lovelytour.ru; ul Sovetskaya 3, Tsentralny; 10am-8pm Mon-Fri, to 5pm Sat). Given two days' notice, either agency can organise permits and guides to visit the dam's turbine rooms.

The dam itself is 30km further north in Energetik and the BAM trains go right across it.

Between the two, the impressive Angara Village (412 834; locals/foreigners R12/90; 10am-5pm Tue-Sun, longer hr in summer) is an open-air ethnographic museum featuring a rare wooden watchtower and buildings rescued from drowned old Bratsk. A series of shaman sites and Evenki (also known as Tungusi) chum (tepee-shaped conical dwellings) lie in the woods behind. The attractive lakeside site is a lonely 3km walk from Sibirsky Traktir, an isolated highway café off the main marshrutka routes 10 or 50. Taking a taxi makes more sense.