The Barguzin Valley is a remote and wild river valley on the east side of Lake Baikal. The Barguzin River is 480 kilometres (300 mi) long, flowing into the Barguzin Bay of Lake Baikal at Ust-Barguzin. The geomorphology of the valley is complex and was beyond my schoolboy analysis. On first sight it looks like a rift valley with an apparent faultline along its northern side, fringed by the Barguzin Alps and the less steep, forest covered slopes of the Ikat Hills on its south eastern side. The valley also has signs of glaciation, but this is unlikely to have created the very flat bottom between the mountains and the hills. There are many tributaries to the main river and lakes, the most notable being salt lakes as shown below.
In the morning we walked around the shores of the salt lake. We then moved on to a local village where we had lunch in the kitchen of an old farmhouse, provided by Nina, the resident and cook.
The valley has been inhabited since pre-historic times and there are some ancient rock paintings of fish thought to be about 3000 years old. In terms of social history the name of the valley derives from a local word ‘bargut’ which means ‘outskirts or wilderness’. The valley is known as the home of a Mongolian Tribe that originally inhabited the area. In the 12th Century the tribe did not fight the invading army of Genghis Kahn as, apparently, Kahn’s mother came from the area. More recent history includes some Shaman holy sites of the Buryats.
In the afternoon we walked up the slopes and rocky outcrops of the south eastern hills. On the way up there was a good view, back towards the village.
From the tops there were wonderful views across the valley to the Northern Alps.