Even the sun shines in a special way in this, at one time, most well known place at Baikal. Under its hot rays the air becomes discernable and visibly fills the space around with itself, softly enveloping the wooded slopes and rippling slightly over the cliffs. Contending with the sun, the bow of the beach burns with a magical golden sheen, and if it weren't for the clumsy moorings and incomprehensible buildings on the shore, one could have considered Peschanaya one of the most beautiful corners of Baikal...
Peschanaya Bay or, as it is often called, Peschanka is situated in the southern part of the western coast of Baikal, approximately 75 kilometres directly to the north-east of the source of the Angara and 30 km from the settlement of Bolshoye Goloustnoye. The bay is in the Pribaikalskii National Park. Since 1981, Peschanka has had the status of state natural landscape monument. The geographical coordinates of Peschanaya Bay are 52°15'40" latitude north, 105°42'08" longitude east.
Peschanka is thought to be the warmest place at Baikal; here the climate is, by Siberian standards, quite mild with an annual average temperature of +0.4° and many sunny days. Probably it is for this reason that the bay is sometimes called the Siberian Riviera.
Peschanaya Bay is the distinctive centre of a unique natural ensemble that forms its environs. The bay itself is flanked in the north-east by the impressive Cape Bolshoi Kolokolny (Big Bell) and in the south-west by its no less striking smaller copy, Maly Kolokolny (Small Bell). True, between Peschanka and Maly Kolokolny there is another small bay, called Akademicheskaya. In the past Peschanaya Bay itself had the name Kolokolny. Cape Bolshoi Kolokolny separates Peschanka from Babushka Bay, which can rival Peschanaya with the beauty of its sandy beach. To the south-west of Maly Kolokolny is the cosy Zavernyaikha Bay, and beyond that the small island of Baklany Kamen.
The rocky stacks rising up above the forest cover of the Primorsky mountain range give an unusually striking appearance to the vicinity. The best known stacks even have names of their own: Buddha, Shlyapa (Hat)...
At one time Peschanka was famous for its stilted trees - larch and pine trees standing on their bare roots. It was possible for a person to pass freely under the roots of some of these trees. Stilted trees are found all over Baikal, but in Peschanaya Bay they were particularly expressive, blending organically into the surrounding landscape. Most of the stilted trees have died over the past ten years or so.
At the beginning of the last century, the sites of prehistoric people of the Neolithic era were found in the bay and its surroundings. During archaeological excavations, nephrite axes, harpoons and arrow heads were found here. Today, the archaeological monuments have been totally destroyed.
Since 1960, the bay has been used as a tourist centre, and the first buildings were set up almost on the shore of the lake itself, so violating sanitation standards. Over recent years the primitive Russian tourist business knows no bounds whatsoever. Buildings are put up right by the shore and, as a result, the shore zone has lost its original appearance completely. Enormous damage has been inflicted to the areas around the bay too. At the end of the last century, according to different estimates, the anthropogenic load on the bay and its environs exceeded permissible limits by from 10 to 100 times. But now that there are two tourist centres here and the stream of organised and «wild» tourists has grown many times over no one offers an estimate; everything is quite clear without them. A great deal, almost everything has been destroyed in Peschanaya Bay. Even the pride of the bay - the wonderful bow of the sandy beach has been defaced by two piers whose construction led to a narrowing of the beach, by almost a half, on the eastern side, that in turn led to the loss of the stilted trees.
It's possible to get to the Peschanaya Bay in summer only by water and in winter over the ice. Thankfully, no roads have been built to it.