With 48,000 lakes dotting the country, Kazakhstan has been touted as a “water destination”. Here are six of its most beautiful lakes you should not miss.
- Lake Markakol
Dubbed the “Pearl of East Kazakhstan” by some, this lake is regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in Central Asia. It is located about 1,500m above sea level and spans about 40km in length. Surrounded by mountain ranges and a nature reserve, the lake is at its most dazzling at noon when the sun is at its peak, turning the water a striking blue.
- Big Almaty Lake
Located more than 2,400m above sea level within the Ili Alatau mountains, the lake is best known for its beautiful teal colour, which changes according to the seasons. Swimming is forbidden as it is a natural reservoir that provides water for the residents of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s most populous city and former capital.
- Lake Kaindy
Another scenic lake with turquoise waters, Lake Kaindy has an added attraction: an underwater forest of dead spruce trees with their bleached trunks sticking out of the water. Nestled within the Tian Shan Mountains near Almaty, it was formed after an earthquake in 1911, which resulted in a natural dam after a landslide.
- Kolsai Lakes
Nicknamed the “necklace”, the trio of emerald green alpine lakes along the Alatau mountain ranges rise up to 2,700m above sea level. The surrounding greenery draws the most hikers in spring and summer, when they can pick wild strawberries and raspberries or take a dip in the water.
- Lake Balkhash
This enormous crescent-shaped lake in southeastern Kazakhstan runs 614km in length and is fed by seven rivers. Another unique feature: The lake is made up of saltwater in the western part and freshwater in the eastern region. It is home to about 20 species of fish and 120 species of birds, including some threatened species.
- Lake Issyk
Lake Issyk was formed more than 8,000 years ago, when a rockslide clogged up the gorge into which the water used to flow. Since then, it remained under the radar until the 1930s, when developments in the area began drawing visitors. The Soviet Union subsequently established the area as a park in the 1950s, and built leisure facilities within it. However, a massive mudslide in the 1960s caused the lake to flood out of the gorge, and destroyed much of the lake. In the 1990s, work began to restore Lake Issyk. Today, its turquoise waters draw nature lovers and families on the weekends.