The Chivyrkuy Bay with its attractions is one of the finest places at Lake Baikal, comparable in beauty only with the landscapes of the Small Sea and Island Olkhon. S. Ustinov, after Professor M. Popov called this place the Venetian Bay of Lake Baikal. The water area combined an amazing world of the Baikal landscapes and biological diversity. Hot springs come along with cedar forests; blue sea with fiery sky; unique plant kingdom with nests of herons; brown bears with their maritime brothers – seals. Speaking about their impressions, people often call it "Chivyrkuy Tale". The bay is located between the eastern shore of Lake Baikal and the Holy Nose Peninsula. The northern part of the bay opens on the Baikal and its southern part slips into swamp-lake lowland, and this is the isthmus between the land and the main part of the peninsula. The Baikal coasts at the bay and its "island" part are very beautiful with its forest bush and bays of the most remarkable forms. The very name Chivyrkuy is not accidental, in the Buryat language it means “overgrown with thick forest terrain”.
There are seven islands in the bay; each of them is unique by its landscape and a special poetic name: Pebble Kurbuliksky, Pebble Bezymyanny, Shimay or Island Baklaniy. One of the most famous places in the Chivyrkuisky Bay is the Bay Zmeinaya, located in the northeastern part of the peninsula. The notability of the bay is not only in the abundance of snakes, in fact they are non-hazardous grass snakes, but in a hot radon spring. The dug pit of the spring, where the water temperature reaches 40-50 degrees, is a favorite place for tourists coming for treatment. They say the spring helps if you have problems with musculoskeletal apparatus, rheumatism, etc. In summer near the hot water it is possible to see beautiful and fragrant violet gillyflowers that in European part of Russia grow only in gardens. A.M. Stanilovsky who once visited this place wrote: “On the whole Bay Zmeinaya has a peculiar effect on me, which could be called sensation of natural forces. Thick vegetation, mineral hot water running from mysterious depths of the earth, a kind of microcosm of animal organisms – snakes – all this together makes the sensation of unalterable natural productivity more intense". The plant-filled lakes, marshlands, shallow bays and islands turned Chivyrkuy into a “bird paradise”. Here you can find a huge variety of birds, among them extremely rare white-tailed sea eagle, osprey, black stork, herring gulls, white-rumped swifts, and great cormorants.
Holy Nose Peninsula got its name from the Russian word нос "nose" that had the meaning of “cape" for the Russian pioneers in the 17 – 18th century. Initially it was the name of the southernmost island cape, and then this name was given to the whole peninsula. Interaction of two Buryat names is also evident here. Thus, Khilmen-Khushun means “saber cape”, or "tip of a dagger". Some suggest another meaning, i.e., "snout (nose) of the sturgeon”. Some places of the peninsula used to be and are now sacral places for the Buryat and Evenki shamans. The origin of the word holy in this case is not clear so far, but we can assume that "sanctity" of the peninsula is connected with shamanism and the traditions of aboriginal people. This supposition can also be supported by the fact that there is Lake Arangatuy between the peninsula and the mainland. This name is most likely to originate from the Evenki word Yaranga, that meant “a platform, storage on large trees, where corpses of dead kinsmen were placed until they were eaten by beasts or smolder”. The essence is that for the life hereafter people chose some special places where it would be pleasant for any fellow tribesman to stay in future. It is very likely that the aboriginals explained to the Russian newcomers the origin of the peninsula name as well as the places and traditions connected with it. And the peninsula got the name Holy Nose. But on target such sacred places of Lake Baikal are in need of special care and protection. So the name of the peninsula reflects a kind of call for people to deify nature and to protect it.
The name of the Ushkany Islands, according to the opinion of most Lake Baikal experts, means “islands of seals” since it is considered that in the 17th century the Baikal seal was named sea hare by Russians. Incidentally, Russians also called representative of subpolar waters by the same name. As there were many people from the European northern part of Russia in Siberia at that time it appeared that this word ushkan (“hare”) became the name of the islands as the Baikal seal liked to have a rest here.
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