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News Alert

October 2005
The Great Baikal Trail opens 170 kilometers of forest trails around Lake Baikal

In September 2005, the interregional NGO "Great Baikal Trail" successfully opened five sections of the planned circuit route around Lake Baikal, extending 170 kilometers. According to Andrei Suknev, Project Manager of the Federation of Sport Tourism and Climbing of the Buryatia Republic, the Great Baikal Trail will offer access to unique and remote natural corners of Lake Baikal. The trail caters to hikers of all levels of qualifications. Suknev believes that by opening the wonders of Baikal to a broad range of people – from mothers with children to the elderly – the tourist value of the region will greatly increase, helping in turn to promote conservation of Lake Baikal and boost the share of tourism in local economies.

While United States boasts five great walking trails, the Great Baikal Trail is the first of its kind in Russia. But the idea wasn’t born yesterday. Three decades ago, the legendary director of Barguzinsky Zapovednik and founder of Baikalo-Lensky Zapovednik, Oleg Gusyev, got the idea to build a circuit route around Baikal after visiting the Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States. Gusyev had made the trip around Baikal on his own, navigating an uncharted course through forest debris and over mountain ranges.

Construction of the Great Baikal Trail began in June 2005 with support from the administrations of Irkutsk and Buryatia provinces, local community groups and municipalities, NGOs and private business, and private donors. Volunteers from all over the world descended on Baikal this summer to help build the trail, including from the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, South Africa, and other countries, as well as from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Irkutsk. Over 600 people all told participated in building the trail, clearing and marking 170 kilometers of forest trails. They built bridges, camping areas, and posted informational stands.

The project will continue next summer, and those interested in participating should contact:

Andrei Suknev

suknev_gbt@mail.ru

Tel: +7 (3012) 553-470

Russian: http://baikal.eastsib.ru/gbt/index.html

English: http://baikal.eastsib.ru/gbt/index_en.html

 

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