Kazakhstan Lakes

Big Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake is a mountain lake in the gorge of the river Big Almatinka at a height of 2511 m above sea level, and 28.5 km to the south of Almaty. The lake is in a basin. It is like a sparkling mirror surrounded by mountain peaks all around. There are three main peaks over the lake: the Soviet peak (4,317 m), the peak Ozerny (4,110 m) and the Tourist peak (3,954 m) – one can see them from the southern end of the dam. To the west from the Tourist, there is the back of the peak Big Almaty (a pyramid 3,681 m high), it is well-observed from the city center. The lake fed with glacier water is shaped as a cup with length – 1.6 km, and width - almost 1 km, and depth - 40 m. In different seasons, the lake changes its color from pale green to turquoise blue. There is the village in the valley over the lake, it has spectacular domes of the Tien Shan astronomical observatory (2 km away from the lake, at a height of 2,700 m). There is the Space Station even higher (at a height of 3,300 m), next to the passage Zhasylkezen, where one can spend a night while watching the stars.

Karasor Lake

Karasor Lake (or Tuzdykul), a salt enclosed lake on the north-west of Karaganda region in Kazakhstan. The lake is full of fish. Salt content in Karasor exceeds salt content in seawater. There is therapeutic mud on the shores of the lake, lake produces valuable therapeutic sludge mud. This mud has a high content of bioactive substances, salts, microelements. Karasor’s sludge mud is much more efficient than Odessan liman and Azov muds. Therapeutic effect of the muds includes thermal, chemical and mechanical effects. Mud is of high heating capacity and low thermal conductivity resulting in the expressed heat effect. At present, a chemical factor is of importance in therapeutic action of muds. Around 10 small rivers bring their waters to the lake Karasor.


Markakol is one of the largest lakes in Altai, its length is 38 km, width – 19 km. Lake area makes up 455 sq. km. It’s located in the intermountain basin between Kurchumsk and Azutausk mountains. Around 70 rivers run into the lake, and only one river Kalzhir flows from here. You can see an amazing view to the mountain chain Sarymsakty with snowy peaks Berkutaul and Aksubas, from the northern side. The lake is known for its clean water and lots of uskuch – the local type of Siberian lenoks and umbra. This type of fish is the endemics, and they live here only. Markakol natural reserve flora includes around 900 types of plants. Picturesque rocky spurs are covered mostly with larch, rarer – with fir forest. Subalpine meadows are rich with flowers, rare medical plants. Reserve’s animal kingdom is rich and diverse. Forests are inhabited with brown bears, moose, foxes, trots, elks (Siberian deers), wolverines, sables, ermines, falcons, blackcock, the rarest dholes, black storks, herring gulls and many others.


Alakol is the unique lake of Kazakhstan, it’s the second largest among internal water bodies in Kazakhstan, and the only deep-water lake among enclosed lakes of the Republic. The lake is located between snowy peaks of Dzungarian Ala Tau and blue range of Tarbagatai, on the northeast of Akmaty region, it occupies the area of 2,700 sq. km. Its depth reaches 50 m. Alakol has salty, seawater. In summer, it is warm (average summer temperature - 26°С ). Lake bed is pebby, on shores it is sludgy, shores are covered with small black pebble that is warm from the sun. Experts find only therapeutic properties in Alakol, besides blessing water, there is also sulfurous mud and dry clean steppe air saturated with mineral salts. Though there are no health resorts and sanatoriums, these diverse natural factors create favorable conditions for rest and treatment of skin diseases, respiratory diseases, diseases of apparatus system and nervous system. Fishing and hunting in the neighborhood are interesting and diverse. Only rare trains passing in a distance sometimes break the silence. There are some convenient rest houses on the shore that will ensure calm rest.


The lake Balkhash is one of the largest enclosed lake after Caspian and Aral lakes. Its length is 614 km, width – from 3.5 up to 44 km, maximum depth reaches 26 m. The lake is unique for its different mineralization of western and eastern parts, due to narrow bays. Western part is fed with Ili river and filled with fresh water, eastern part is salty. There are no similar lakes in Eurasia. Balkhash nature is contrastive. Pribalkhashye is one of the interesting natural corners of Kazakhstan, surrounded by deserts, full of light and warmth. Ago-long thirst of deserts here is fully satisfied with the unique Balkhash lake. This land is famous for its landscape, flora and fauna. Here, you can find plants like Asian popular, willow, reed and cane. White swans are the real decoration and symbol of Balkhash. Nowadays, you can see them only in some parts of the lake. There are 20 types of fish living in the lake, of which 6 are characteristic of this lake (Ili and Balkhash marinkas, Balkhash perch, spotty and plain gubach, and minnow), others were human accustomed: carps, ships, breams, Aral barbels, Siberian dace, carps, tenches, pike perches, catfish and others. Major commercial fish is the carp, pike perch, bream and cat fish. Though the pelicans are the true owners here. The lake Balkhash is the habitat of common cormorants, teals, pheasants, golden eagles, aigrettes and muskrats. Wild boars live in a reed bed. Climate in the lake area is desert. Average temperature in July is around 24°C, in January around – 8°С. Annual mean rainfall is 120 mm. The lake freezes every year, and ice usually holds from November until March. For real hunters and brave tourists, the lake Balkhash offers hunting for the blackcock, duck, partridge, hare, fox and even wolf. Fish fauna of the lake is amazing as well. You can enjoy fishing for the pike perch, bream, catfish and others.


The lake Zaisan is situated 30 km away from Kiin-Kerish, along the unsurfaced road. Absolute basin height is 386 m. Basin area makes up 1.8 thsd. sq. km, depth – 8 m. The lake is flowing, the lakes: Black Irtish, Kokpekty, Zharma, Kendirlik and others flow into it, and only one river Irtish flows from it. From November to April, the lake is covered with ice. Zaisan is the large freshwater lake with around 23 types of fish living here (17 are commercial fish). There is the caviar farm here. The muskrat has been accustomed. When the first stars appear, you can hear a melodic ring like wires buzzing. Due to this peculiarity, the lake has the second name “The Lake of Change-Ring”. 100 years ago, this area was inhabited with wild two-humped camels, Przewalski’s horses, koulans, goitered gazelles, saigas, thousands of bustards, tigers... Now, you can see bustards and other rare species here. On the lake shores, you can find some interesting places: Ashutas – a picturesque shore in flood with fancy shapes made from clays of different shades, like Kiin-Kerish. It is the best rest place. Next to the beach, everyone can plunge into cool water of Zaisan. Akshuat is the fishermen village. It is a settlement with unusual architecture. Special subculture of the Kazakh fishermen appeared here. People in the village are very friendly. One can arrange a trip, if required, to the authentic fishermen families. Zaisan cavity is the road to Kiin-Kerish. While moving to the south-west of Zaisan cavity on the bad road, you can see the changing landscape, plant and animal life that is peculiar for mountain-steppe and desert area. Typical inhabitants of this area are different types of the lark (Alaudidae, Oenanthe), shrike (Laniidae). There are lots of ground squirrels living here, while attracting predators: steppe eagle, foxes, wolves.


One of the most picturesque lakes of Zailiskiy Alatau – the lake Issyk – hid only 60 km away from Almaty, next to the small town Issyk, at a height of 1,800 m above sea level. In 1963, a powerful mud stream broke through from the glacier zone up the river Issyk. Giant waves destroyed the natural dam, resulting to the lake hollowed out for several hours. At present, it has been partially restored, and beautiful mountain landscape still pleases the tourist’s eye.


The lake Kaindy appeared in the last century from a mountain slide. For such a short period of time, flooded fir-trees couldn’t rot, and you can see an amazing scene: fir-tree tops fly above the lake. The term “Kaindy” from Kazakh means “birchen”. Probably, the river got its name Kaindy for the huge birch grove located 5 km away from it. The lake Kaindy is surrounded by the rocky hills and steep rocks. There is a rock dead end above the lake, and one can approach it on a car from one side only. The lake is a perfect dream and it is original. Mushroom forests surround it, wild strawberries grow on the skirts as bright red spots, and in the raspberry fields, sweet berries grow energized by the sun. When climbing the range knap, one can see a panoramic view of Kungei-Alatau: sharp fir-tree peaks and distant mountain peaks. And beneath, in a deep cup under rocks, there is the lake Kaindy so different from others. Kaindy hid among a soft wood forest at a height of 2 thousand meters above sea level in one of the gorges of Kungei-Alatau. Lake’s length is around 400 m. Its depth is almost 30 m. Strange to say, but this unique in its beauty lake is almost unknown. Perhaps, the reason is high tourists’ attention to Kolsai lakes located not far. Nevertheless, every year, this flooded lake gains in appropriate popularity.


Kolsai lakes are the precious natural corner, as a unique piece of art, a pearl, a diamond to be preserved (P.I. Marikovsky). Kolsai lakes are dark blue in color, they are surrounded by blooming Alpine meadows, rocks and huge soft wood forests of the Tien Shan fir-tree, cascading one by one in one huge and amazingly beautiful mountain gorge. They call it the blue jewelry of North Tien Shan. If you see it once, you will never forget this magnificence! Kolsai 1 – your rest starts here. Distance from Almaty to the first Kolsai lake – 330 km. It stretched for 1 km along the gorge, at a height of 1818 m, and there is the road through, there are convenient rest houses, camping. Kolsai 2 (middle) – the most beautiful of Kolsai lakes, is located 5 km up the gorge, at a height of 2252 m. In bottom part, there is a flat glade. Kolsai 3 is 6 km upper than the second, elevation difference between them is 800 m. Water in the lake is very cold. Climate in this area is highland: summer day temperature is 30°С, at nightfalls down to 5-10°С. The season is from July to September. 6 km further, on the Kyrgyz border, there is the passage Sary-Bulak (3278 m) with magnificent views to blue Issyk-Kul.


The lake Shalkar is the glorious ancient monument that the nature left in the Transural region. Shalkar has special environmental, scientific, cultural, recreational and esthetic value. The lake is located 75 km to the southeast of the city of Uralsk, in Terekinsky district. It is the deepest and largest water reservoir in West-Kazakhstani region. This natural water reservoir is very ancient; its origin is still a subject of disputes. However, the most probable version is that it is the remains of former Khvalynskiy sea that stepped back thousands of years ago to Caspian sea, since in prehistoric times, present Caspian Plain was all the sea mentioned above. For ages, the lake Shalkar attracted human attention; long ago, the Oghuzsks, Pechenegs and later Cumans, Turkoman tribes ancestors to the Kazakhs, lived on its shores. In its modern form, the lake is oval, stretched from north down to south. Length from north to south is around 18 km, from west to east is 14 km. Maximum depth is 18 m, depths from 10 to 12 m take around 30% of bottom area, depths less than 2 m – 12%. In windy weather, completely covered with white choppy waves, its wash resembles the real sea. Water composition in the lake is similar to sea water, and its environmental state surpasses many sea waters, facilitating to health care of tourists. From eastern part, two rivers flow into the lake: Isen Ankaty (Big Ankaty) and Sholak Ankaty (Small Ankaty), and one river Solyanka flows from it joining the river Ural.


Sibinsk lakes are located 85 km away from the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk. Way to the lakes is decorated with picturesque landscape of the granite mountain passes. Lakes are the accompanying tourist attraction that determines the eastern direction. Sibinsk lakes are the 5 lakes system with purest clean water, surrounded by granite mountains, with the single name - Sibinsk lakes (Ablaketsk). This tourist attraction is considered as an environmental tourism object. Tourists have an opportunity to enjoy amazing beauty of 5 lakes, to go for a walk and swim in July-August. On the opposite side of one of the lakes, there is a nude beach, where tourists from Europe can sunbathe in “natural conditions”. Average wind speed is 2-3 m/s, solar period lasts for 2500-2600 hours a day. Average temperature in January is16°С, in July - +19°С. Warm period lasts for 210 days. Maximum temperature in summer reaches + 35°С, in winter - -55°С. Such climatic conditions together with granite mountains in pines and steppe grass of different colors, overhanging the cleanest lakes, have gained in popularity, and have become the beloved rest place for tourists in summer. In perspective, they plan to arrange a national park here.