A hidden gem waits to be discovered in the middle of the Khamar-Daban mountains: Lake Serdtse. The small alpine lake’s name simply means heart and refers to its peculiar shape. A small river, Mangutaika, eventually connects Serdtse with Lake Baikal.

A native legend grew out of this connection, saying that Mangutaika was the unfaithful wife of the giant Khamar-Daban, who left him for Baikal. In his anguish, the giant tore out his heart and filled the hole with his tears. Geologists, though, say that the lake and the crater that houses it are the results of ancient glacial activity. One way or the other, Lake Serdtse stands out even in this picturesque region.

One of the best views of the lake opens up from Chersky Peak, but you could and should visit it up close as well. Its wonderful clear waters reflect the mountains and the sky, creating a dazzling effect that will stay with you.

In warmer months, abundant greenery frames the blue lake, while in winter snow provides a different kind of scenic contrast. Half-submerged mossy rocks poke out of the water.

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