For Senior Travelers: Legendary Lakes in the World

Dec 22nd, 2010 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel

The world’s twenty largest lakes are not necessarily the most famous nor the most legendary. Only one of the ten is among the ten largest and and that one has always been a favorite of mine… Lake Baikal the ‘Pearl of Siberia’ or the ‘Sacred Sea’, is referred to as “Ye glorious sea, ye sacred Baikal” in an old Siberian song. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It averages 2,442 feet deep and contains roughly 20% of the world’s surface fresh water and has 336 tributaries. That’s impressive folks!

Here is the sad part. The lake is revered by the Russian people as a source of beauty and power. Preservation of the lake, however, has recently come to international attention. The Paper-and-Pulp Mill at Baikalsk has polluted the surrounding region and produces chemicals and effluents that threaten the more than 1,500 species unique to the lake.  It is a self-contained aquatic system; it is an isolated ecosystem, home to endemic species found no where else on earth and has become a symbol of environmental dangers.

Crater Lake, Oregon, is the deepest freshwater body in the United States and partly fills a nearly 2,148 foot (655 m) deep caldera. The Klamath Indians of Oregon describe the creation of the lake in a legend. Llao, the spirit of the Below World, fell in love with the beautiful daughter of the Klamatah chief. When she rejected him on account of his ugly appearance, Llao swore to take revenge on her people.

Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe/Zambia is Africa’s largest man-made dam. It gets its name from “Kariwa”, or “trap”, in the language of the local Tonga people. The Tonga believe that Nyaminyami, the river god, lives under a rock in Lake Kariba. Whoever ventures near this rock is sucked down in a whirlpool and never seen again.

Lake Saiful Maluk, Pakistan, is located about 10,600 feet above sea level in the Himalayas, (“Sword of Kings”) is one of Pakistan’s highest lakes. The lake is named after an Egyptian prince called Saif, and old red-bearded storytellers narrate his story to visitors over steaming cups of tea.

Lake Guatavita, Colombia; several South American countries claim the legend of El Dorado (“The Golden Man”) as their own, but for many historians and researchers, Lake Guatavita, two hours from Bogota, remains one of the most credible sources.

Hoan Kiem Lake, Vietnam, is located in the heart of Hanoi City, the Hoan Kiem Lake (“Lake of the Returned Sword”) is a popular recreation spot for Hanoi citizens and visitors alike. Once a marshy lagoon, it owes its name and fame to a powerful legend, a close parallel to an episode in Britain’s Arthurian mythology.

Lake Okanagan, Canada-Like Loch Ness in Scotland, in British Columbia is also famous for its resident monster. Okanagan’s monster “Ogopogo” actually made its media debut seven years before “Nessie”. In 1926, the editor of the Vancouver Sun wrote, “Too many reputable people have seen [the monster] to ignore the seriousness of actual facts.” So seniors, grab your binoculars and sit out on a bank near the lake and keep on checking to see what you can find. Better yet, sit along side Loch Ness as that would be more fun I believe.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada, is Canada’s “Diamond in the Wilderness,” and the “Hiking Capital of Canada”. This area offers a tremendous diversity of recreational and sightseeing opportunities. Lake Louise is home to one of North America’s finest downhill ski areas, and has numerous hiking and walking trails. The region abounds with spectacular scenery, from glaciers to waterfalls.

Lake Superior Sunset on Isle Royale is the legendary lake; literally. The copious number of shipwrecks, legendary storms, it’s infamous beauty, is unrivaled. Isle Royale physical isolation and primitive wilderness challenged human use for centuries; ironically today it has become the Island’s main attraction.

I will toss in one last lake as Answerbag.com has it listed as the “largest body of water surrounded by land.” The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area.  It has a surface area of 371,000 square kilometers (143,244 sq mi). Lake Superior comes in second , Lake Huron fourth and Lake Michigan fifth.

So let’s be proud of our own Great Lakes; the lakes and their connecting channels form the largest fresh surface water system on earth. My spellchecker sure had fun here folks…       jeb



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  1. [...] International (an American-based non-profit group for divers) with includes the Great Barrier Reef, Lake Baikal (Yes, it should be on this list), the Galapagos and the Deep_Sea [...]

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