A settlement with a fancy name, Bolshiye Koty, is located 18 km away from Listvyanka. Bolshiye Koty is a former mining settlement. The surrounding area has traces of gold mining, so you can see artificial lakes and piles of rock inside the Bolshiye Koty valley. The true story behind the settlement’s name is unknown. Someone can think that the village was named after the large cats (Russian words “Bolshiye koty” translate as “Large Cats”), yet, it is not true. It is supposed that the name was taken from the river it was based on. The word “koto” comes from the Evenki language. The literal meaning is “palm,” “knife.”
Some people believe that the name comes from the wooden shoes “koty,” worn in a sloppy weather and in the marshy areas.
Attractions of Bolshiye Koty
Recently, the settlement has become one of the most convenient and popular tourist places. It is located close to Irkutsk and Listvyanka Settlement, yet far enough to preserve the beauty of a landscape. If you want to visit all tourist attractions, two days will be enough. You can either stay in a tent or book an accommodation at the guesthouse.
The tourists can walk down the eco trail of the Baikal National Park. No matter which direction you choose either Listvyanka to Bolshiye Koty or vice versa, you will easily cover the distance in a day. In Listvyanka walk in the direction of a market from the last bus stop or the Listvyanka’s quay. Turn right on the Gudina Street (Rus: ул. Гудина). As you walk down the end of the Street (about 2 kilometers), you will see the beginning of the route. Walk across the left side of a brook. The first 4.5 kilometers go uphill. This is the hardest part of a path. Short of a top, the path splits up. Choose the right direction. At the top (860 meters above the sea level, 404 meters above the lake level) you will discover the magnificent views of Baikal Lake. The path continues along the shore. You will pass many rivers and brooks, crossing the bridges built by volunteers. Watch out, in certain localities, the path goes along the cliffs. On your way, you will observe the stunning nature of the Pribaikalsk National Park.The nature heritage, the Skriper Cliff, is located 4 kilometers away from Bolshiye Koty (Longitude: 105°7′55.2″E/105,132000, Latitude: 51°53′53.16″N/51,898100). At the height of 200 meters, there is a cave (60 m2) with two small halls, where the archeologists found old tools, jewelry, and utensils. You can see the cave entrance from the lake.
The origin of the place name Skriper is connected to the XIX century gold mine. In 1891 only the gold diggers rinsed more than a million poods (1 pood=36 pounds) of sedimentary rock and extracted 28 pounds of gold. The works were carried out with the help of a scraper machine (hence the name). For many years, the machine was the key milestone. The Skriper Cliff was listed as a state landmark in 1985.
Apart from the trail, you can visit the Lake Baikal Scientific Museum and the Biology Institute Aquarium. The museum exhibits more than 400 items, a rich insects’ collection, and a painting collection of museum’s founder, M.M.Kozhov. It has been operating for about 90 years. The museum is located 100 meters from the pier.
How to get to Bolshiye Koty settlement
In the summer season (June – September) you can take a boat from the «Raketa» pier in Irkutsk to Bolshiye Koty. You can find the schedule and the prices on the website www.vsrp.ru. The trip will take about 3,5 hours.
Throughout the year: take a bus to Listvyanka which departs from Irkutsk Railway Station or Central Market, the trip takes about 1 hour. From Listvyanka you can either take a private boat (30-minutes journey) which can be hired at the pier during the summer time or walk down the eco trail of the Baikal National Park. The astonishing landscape will definitely astound you!
In winter, the road on the frozen surface of the Baikal leads to Bolshiye Koty. It passes along the shore and marked with direction signs.
Other Baikal attractions:
Listvyanka is the best place to get to know the unique nature of the Baikal. This settlement is a starting point for many Baikal routes including the Circum-Baikal Railway.
The Circum-Baikal Railway is truly the main Baikal man-made landmark. This unique achievement in architecture and engineering is a section of the Trans-Siberian Railway and one of the most beautiful places of Lake Baikal.
Olkhon Island, one of the most beautiful and mysterious places of the Baikal, rich with wonderful nature sights.
Chivyrkuysky Bay, one of the most wildest and thinly populated areas of Lake Baikal.
Barguzinsky bay, the largest bay of the Baikal. The Baikal’s longest sand beach stretches 12.5 mi (20 km) along the bay.