Bolshoe Goloustnoe is amazing and unique village, built in the classic wooden style on the southwestern shore of famous Lake Baikal, and is inside the beautiful Pribaikalsky National Park. It is not too far from other villages, but its history and character differs a lot. Bolshoe Goloustnoe is the fabulous place to come for the authentic Siberian experience in a stunning setting. You will admire amazing wooden old buidigs, learn about Buryat culture and enjoy fantastic lakeside, larch and pine tree forest, the steppe slopes, pebble beaches, and green meadows with gorgeous view to the turquoise-blue immensity of the great lake.
Bolshoe Goloustnoe (Bare River Mouth) village got its name from the name of the beautiful river on which it is situated. This picturesque river estuary is swamped and wide. There are approximately 600 year-round residents. Most families have sheep and cattle. Village life also means taking care of livestock. The cattle roam around the hillsides on their own during the day, but of course they come home in the evening to be milked. Many families also keep horses, which are pastured fairly far out of the village.
Bolshoe Goloustnoe itself is on a flat plain next to the shores of Lake Baikal, in a fabulous bay area, and surrounded by amazing steep hills where the top half of the hills are covered in pine trees and the bottom half covered in grass and lovely wildflowers. Climbing even part way up these hills rewards you with wonderful views of the surrounding area and lake. Siberia is an enormous place. It stretches for thousands of miles, covers an area far larger than continents elsewhere. It is a land of astonishing physical beauty and human history. It is also a land of enormous strength and resilience, hardiness and courage in natural surroundings that are simply breathtaking in their expanse and fascination. The trip out to Bolshoe Goloustnoe is really scenic.
Not far from the village in Semenikha Pad' there is a small dry lake bed which fills with water on rainy days. Various birds gather here up to 250 species at one place. The Goloustnoe River basin has a diverse animal world due to the various landscapes which include coniferous forests, swamped lands, and rocks. Among species are eagle-owls, kingfishers, sparrow-hawks, lynxes, elks, brown bears, Far Eastern red deer, and others.
Bolshoe Goloustnoe was first settled by a Buryat called Soryel. The saying, "Here one gets meat without a knife, wood without an axe," is attributed to him. Soryel arrived in 1673, along with his three sons; the first Russian settlers followed some fifty years later, early in the 18th century. They built wintering places, farmsteads; they were also in engaged in fishing, seal hunting, and arable farming. In 1949, as part of Stalin's collectivization plans, some of the village's outlying settlements were moved closer to the center, and in 1954, the villagers were resettled "into one big heap" because the construction of the Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station threatened some areas with flooding. While the power station's construction disrupted the villagers' lives, it did not bring them electricity; that came to Bolshoe Goloustnoe only in 2001. During Soviet Rule there was a sovkhoz (state owned farm) and a floating woodworking enterprise. By the end of the 1950s, the lespromkhoz or timber collective was established. Wood was sent down the Goloustnoe to Baikal, and this became the village's major industry and source of income.
The Buryat are the northernmost of the Mongol peoples, and traditionally have been nomadic and pastoral. Today, about 360,000 Buryat live in the Russian Federation, mostly in the area around Lake Baikal. Even in the Republic of Buryatia, the Buryat make up only 24% of the population; overall, they are one of the smallest ethnic minorities in the Russian Federation. The Buryat today are a religiously diverse group. They were originally shamanists, and elements of shamanistic practice are still seen. Today, however, most Buryat are Buddhists, though some families have converted to other religions.
Bolshoe Goloustnoe is the place to spend the bulk of your time if you want to experience the best of Siberian style hospitality, nature and tradition all of which, we think, more than makes up for the relatively basic accommodation. This is the best place to on the lakeshore to spend a few days. It is one of the most comprehensive, naturalistic and beautiful trip at Baikal.