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'Lake Baikal: the very name fills Russian hearts with awe'
Mike Carter, The Observer

Crimson treasure of Siberia, the salt lake that turns pink on sunny days

By Olga Gertcyk
30 July 2019

The deposit and surrounding area were named Royal Salt Shaker by Peter the Great.

It is known to be the deepest shade of pink at the end of July and beginning of August. 

More dense than in the Dead sea, the water in Burlinskoye Lake in the Altai region of Siberia changes colour from crimson to pink to steel grey, depending on the weather. 

It is known to be the deepest shade of pink at the end of July and beginning of August, which is when a flood of locals and tourists travel to see it and heal themselves in its waters.

Bathing in the shallow - one metre deep - Burlinskoye Lake heals multiple skin complaints, and also gives a quick and long-lasting sun tan. 

Pink lake


Pink lake


Pink lake

A combine harvester moves across a lake on underwater rails and picks a thick (up to half a metre) layer of salt before pouring it into attached carriages. 

‘I walked into the lake and immediately felt pinches all around my legs where I had been scratched by a kitten. The salt magic worked so fast that by the end of the day the scratches were gone. Wish I could dip my heart into the lake, too!’ - said Marina from Novosibirsk. 

The 32 square kilometre lake is the biggest salt deposit in western Siberia, known since the 18th century for the purity and exquisite taste of its salt. 

But why is it pink?

There are microorganisms in the water called Artemia salina, a three-eyed brine shrimp with 11 legs that swims upside down.

Pink lake


Pink lake


Pink lake


Wedding at the lake


Wedding at the lake

Bathing in the shallow - one metre deep - Burlinskoye Lake heals multiple skin complaints. Pictures: Olesya Ryabkova, Mikhail Reshetnikov, Lena Timoshenko, Vasilisa Perehodova

This species of pink-tinted aquatic crustaceans  have been around with few changes for as long as 100 million years.

They give the lake its hue.

Ekaterina II - Catherine the Great - once said that she wished to have her dishes seasoned only with salt from the Siberian lake. 

Two centuries ago, camels dragged carriages loaded with salt from the lake, before it was packed and sent for thousand of miles west to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. 

Now a combine harvester moves across a lake on underwater rails and picks a thick (up to half a metre) layer of salt before pouring it into attached carriages. 

Pink lake


Salt


Salt


Salt

The salt is sold across Western Siberia and in some areas of Russia, and is also exported to Mongolia.

Each carriage can hold up to 18 ton of salt. 

On shore the crystals get washed in salty water from the lake, and then crushed to fit different grinds. 

The salt is sold across Western Siberia and in some areas of Russia, and is also exported to Mongolia.

To see the pink lake one needs to travel to the city of Slavgorod in the Altai region, and then drive for about 18km following clearly marked path towards Burlinskoye Lake.

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