Baikal Irkutsk Trans Siberian

Aya Bay at Lake Baikal 

Aya Bay (literally means “beautiful, convenient” in Buryat language) is found on the western shore of Lake Baikal in the area of the Anga River. It is about 12 km away from the nearest Elantsy village which is in turn located on the way from Irkutsk to Olkhon Island. The bay goes deep into the mainland and has quite narrow entry inlet which makes it very convenient indeed for the boats that can stay here protected from the waves and winds till frequent Baikal storms are over. High hills and rocks fringe the bay from the south and north, while its western side has a beautiful semicircular sandy beach.

The upland 2 km northwards from the bay is known for several caves. Local speleologists explore their numerous passages. Some of them have the length of more than 1 thousand meters and the depth exceeding 60 meters. They must have appeared away back – 2 billion years ago, thus they are the most ancient in Siberia. Old time fish skeletons were discovered in aqueous deposits and underground passages of the biggest Aya cave. Its halls are decorated with calcareous dripstones and calcite crystals.

Besides these impressive caves, Aya Bay is famous for ancient petroglyphs dating back to 2,500 years. A part of them one can see on the northern side of the bay, carved 20 meters above the water level. Traditional animal figures of deer, bulls, sheep and fish are added by shaman figures and à kind of a Buryat family coat of arms. Local people still perform Shaman rituals and make donations to the spirits at this very place.

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