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Lake Baikal overview



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Lake Baikal, Russia, dive site map

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Scuba Diving in Lake Baikal, Listvyanka, Irkutsk Region, Russian Federation / Russia

Reader Reviews:

Many thanks to Andrey Bobkov, PDA instructor from the Three Dimensions-Baikal dive centre for contributing this section.

Water temperature:

+1° - +5°C in January-April; +8° - +10°C in May-June (depth down to 15 meters; if you go deeper, it gets colder); +13° - +16° in July-September (depth down to 15 meters; if you go deeper, it gets colder); +8°C in October-November; +6°C in December.


From May till September - 7mm neoprene wet suit is quite comfortable, if you are not going deeper than 15 meters, in other months and at depths below 15 meters we recommend any type of dry suit with thinsulates.


In January-April: 15-20 meters (49-65 feet) (sometimes visibility is well over 30 meters (98 feet)). In general, the deeper you go (usually we do not go deeper than 42 meters), the better visibility you get; in May-June: 10-18 meters (33-59 feet); in July-September: 5-10 meters (14-33 feet); in October-December: 10-18 meters (33-59 feet). Visibility rate in the Baikal is in dependence not only of the water temperature, but also of the stormy and rainy season in late autumn, when the lake is not calm. 

Type of diving:

The Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake in the world, it is a tectonic crack in the Earth crust, so sheer walls, overhangs, dramatic rock formations are typical of the Baikal. We also practice ice diving, night diving, wreck diving (in June 2008 our club members found a 100-year-old fishing shipwreck 16 meters long/5 meters wide). Diving in the area of a village (the area is called Taltsi) flooded during the Angara River Hydropower station construction (we usually find many interesting artifacts there: coins, household utensils of the beginning of the XXth century, etc.). Drifting: the Baikal earthquakes play their role in forming horizontal currents in the lake, which are fun to go with. 

Marine life:

You are not going to be smashed by the variety of species per square meter: by a lucky chance we observe a flock of local endemic fish called omul’ (Coregonus autimnalis); quite often we see endemic representatives of the Gobiidae family, these are funny fishes that are very good at mimicry; as for the flora’s secrets – enjoy the views of the Baikal sponges, that look like corals, but are not dangerous at all – imagine it takes 100 years for the sponge to grow 1 meter long. If you travel to the Ushkany Islands (the north of the Baikal) you will see the famous endemic Baikal fresh water seal called “nerpa” by locals.

When to go:

Actually, we dive all year round and I can tell you each season has its beauty. Summer time is good for shore diving in Listvyanka or daily diving from Zodiac (we can get to the famous CircumBaikal railway); September is the best time for safari – the air is still hot, but not unbearably hot, like in summer, the water is still warm, the nature is wonderful: we can go to the northern extremity of the Olkhon Island to see beautiful underwater canyons; also pay a visit to the white marble rock called Sagan-Zaba to see petroglyphs (carvings in the stone made by prehistoric people) and interesting underwater volcanic landscapes; to meet nerpa (the Baikal seal) we go to Ushkany Islands. In March-April we arrange ice safaris and ice diving. Usually, it is very stormy in November-December, so we do not travel by boat or ship on the lake, still we arrange shore diving in Listvyanka.

How to get there:

From Moscow or Vladivostok or Ulan-Bator (Mongolia) by air or train to Irkutsk. Our dive-center Three Dimensions-Baikal is right on the Baikal shore in the settlement of Listvyanka, it is a 40-minutes’ drive from Irkutsk.



Lake Baikal - courtesy of Andrey Bobkov

Listvyanka is a village stretching 6,5 km along the Baikal shore. It is a popular place with domestic and foreign tourists, not only because of the lake proximity, but also thanks to the Limnological (Limnology is a science that studies lakes) Museum located here: you can learn a lot about Lake Baikal flora and fauna; observe the most popular endemics (“nerpa” – fresh water seal; omul’(Coregonus autimnalis); representatives of the Gobiidae family) in the aquarium. Besides, there is an attraction called Nerpinarium - a big aquarium where trained nerpas give shows – say, paint a picture that is then sold to the visitors during an auction. You can buy all sorts of local fish (smoked, dried) and the Baikal souvenirs at a local market.


Various types of accommodation are available: from a nice 3* conference-hotel Mayak and some smaller hotels on the shore to renting a room from local citizens. Of course, there are a lot of restaurants and cafes that serve Russian traditional and fish food.

Lake Baikal Ice Diving - courtesy of Andrey Bobkov

Trip Breakdown

The trip breaks down into 5 days of Listvyanka-Port Baikal-Taltsi shore diving and diving from the rib (up to 2 dives a day), with sites determined by weather conditions and the ability of the group of divers. There is also an option of the Baikal safari, which is available upon request.

Additional Diving Information (Diving Available from)

The dive centre Three Dimensions-Baikal offers diving and snorkeling for groups of up to 15 people. Rib experience would be good as well as relevant training if diving in a dry suit (winter time mostly). There is an option of taking your dry suit course right on the spot, as it takes just 2 dives and 1 lecture (upon the course completion you will get a PDA Dry Suit Diver certificate).

Andrey Bobkov, PDA Instructor | 17/09/09

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