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Olkhon Island

Updated on January 2, 2012
Typical buryat house
Typical buryat house
Olkhon Island
Olkhon Island

Olkhon Island

Olkhon Island is the biggest of the islands of Lake Baikal. It is located administratively in Irkutsk Province, and geographically it is situated at the northwestern coast of Lake Baikal. It is separated from the lake by the Strait of Olkhon.

Olkhon Island is a natural extension of the southern Maritimes Baikal mountains, interrupted by a transverse valley of the Strait of Olkhon Gate. The maximum length of the island is 73 miles, and the maximum width is 14 miles.

The north-western coast of Olkhon is full of coves and sand. There are many bays here, like the Ulah-Irginskaya, Huzhirtuy, Shibetskaya, Dolon-Nargunskaya, Elga and the Hargayskaya Bay.

Near the northwestern coast there are several rocky islets: Hybin, Uganchay, Zumugchay, Haransa, Madota and Yador. Olkhon is rich in forests, they used to cover 60% of the island. The rest of the island was overgrown with grass and you can also find here rocks and sand. Forests still cover a large area today, and mainly consist of conifers and poplars, aspen and birch.

There are also small, friendly farming areas near the coast, between Ulus and Haransa Nyurgene where the soil is black. Here, you can find deer, roe deer, foxes, wolves, ferrets, rabbits and in areas with less trees you can also find ground squirrels and voles. The island is also rich in birds. Along the coast of Olkhon you can catch many fish, and on the east coast lie a significant number of seals.

The island's population is around 1,000 souls, mainly Buryats. The main occupation of the inhabitants is hunting and fishing. The largest settlement of the island is Khuzir, where up to 25 ulus (tents) are located and more than a hundred people live.

Olkhon Island is one of Lake Baikal's attraction, and a visitor can spend some time in the summer in the Buryats' houses.


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      cr00059n 6 years ago

      Quite a marvelous place, don't you think. Love the cool blue expanse of water and majestic fields. Thanks for sharing such a gorgeous photo.