The town of Severobaikalsk grew out of the untouched wilderness on the northern shores of Lake Baikal when the BAM railway passed through this part of eastern Russia in 1974. A mixture of rickety wooden shacks and ugly Soviet concrete, its population has dropped from 35,000 to 25,000 since the BAM became more or less defunct after the fall of the Soviet Union. Nearby, however, are staggering snow-streaked mountains, endless taiga forests, charming log cabin fishing villages and the unspoilt northern end of the world’s oldest and deepest lake.

A church in Severobaikalsk, a town on Russia's BAM railway

A church in Severobaikalsk

To be absolutely honest: don’t come to Severobaikalsk (located near the western end of the BAM) expecting tourist infrastructure or sites. Come expecting a friendly but rough around the edges typical Siberian town in the absolute middle of nowhere.

There is some interesting stuff to see and do in the surrounding area, however, such as Baikalskoe, a traditional log cabin fishing village, and the boiling-hot springs at Goudzhekit.

Trains come to Severobaikalsk along the BAM from Tynda in the east and from all points along the line to Moscow in the west. To get to places like Novy Urgal and Komsomolsk-Na-Amure on the eastern BAM you must change trains in Tynda. 23km away from Severobaikalsk in Nizhneangarsk there is also a small airport with flights to Irkutsk and Ulan Ude, both on the Trans-Siberian and with flights and trains to Moscow, Mongolia and China. In summer boats run from Severobaikalsk to Irkutsk. The nearest place with flights to Moscow (sometimes cheaper than the train) is Krasnoyarsk, 30 hours west.

Click here for my blog about Severobaikalsk and Goudzhekit. It’s 5435 words and 33 photos.

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