Lonely Planet Writer

See what the world’s deepest and oldest lake in Siberia looks like when frozen solid

In the far reaches of Eastern Siberia lies magical Lake Baikal, believed to be the world’s oldest and deepest lake. Formed as an ancient rift valley (where the Earth’s crust is slowly pulling apart) somewhere between 25 and 30 million years ago, the crescent-shaped Baikal is fed by 300 different rivers, and boasts an incredible 2000 km of shoreline.

People lie on the frozen lake
During winter, the lake completely freezes over. Photo by: Kristina Makeeva

A region of otherworldly beauty, from the lake’s shore, visitors are afforded fantastic views of its surrounding sweeping mountain ranges. At 1637 metres-deep, Baikal contains nearly one-fifth of the Earth’s unfrozen fresh water, and in most places that water is pure enough to drink. A true jewel in the Siberian crown, Lake Baikal was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996.

The icy beauty of Lake Baikal
The area around the lake is incredibly scenic. Photo by: Kristina Makeeva

Moscow photographer Kristina Makeeva is a huge fan of this tranquil region, and in a beautiful body of photography called ‘Simple Magic Things’, she’s aimed to capture the magic of the ancient lake. Specifically, she photographs when the lake is frozen solid. In these pictures you can see bubbles, created when oxygen from the plants at the bottom of the lake freeze on the way up to the surface. Lake Baikal is one of the clearest lakes in the world, offering up to 40-metre transparency during icy winter months. It’s also home to thousands of species of plants and animals, some of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world.

Lake Baikal, Eastern Siberia
Baikal boasts a 2000km shoreline. Photo by: Kristina Makeeva

“Lake Baikal is one of Russia’s wonders”, Kristina tells Lonely Planet News. “I have never seen more beautiful ice in all the world. When the methane and oxygen bubbles from the plants freeze, incredible 3D models of the cosmos are created.” There are lots of activities on offer to those interested in visiting the area around Lake Baikal. From hiking, camping and mountain climbing to dog-sledding and ice-fishing, a trip to this region of Siberia promises to be an absolutely unforgettable experience.

Frozen bubbles under Lake Baikal
Kristina photographs frozen bubbles beneath the water’s surface. Photo by: Kristina Makeeva