The Big Almaty Lake

The best vacation in the heart of the nature

 

The Big Almaty LakeIf you prefer outdoor activities and have a dream to spend vacation with your family and friends somewhere in fresh air, then a trip to the Big (Bolshoe) Almatу Lake is ideal for you.  It is the place where you can escape from the city bustle and just to laze on green and soft grass in untouched nature. And later when you get bored with doing nothing you have an opportunity to go hiking or ride horse along the picturesque mountain slopes of Trans-Ili Alatau, the northernmost ridge of the Tian Shan mountains.  The Big Almatу Lake used to be called Zhosalykol, which means “ocher-coloured lake” in Kazakh, due to the reddish color of the mountain slopes descending directly to the water. In fact, the "big” lake appears to be not so big, only 1.6 km long and 0.75 km wide , but it is rather deep,  in some places its depth reaches  40 meters.  They say the lake got its current name thanks to the river Big Almaatinka that flows here and feeds it. The Big Almatу Lake is located in the splendid gorge of this river at an altitude of 2511 meters and was formed like many other alpine lakes in Central Asia, as a result of a strong earthquake. Tectonic activity caused a landslide, which blocked the Big Almaatinka bed and turned itself into a natural dam.  By the way, not far from here the river Little (Malaya) Almaatinka flows, in its gorge there is the famous high-mountain skating rink Medeo and the Chimbulak ski resort, connected by a funicular railway.   Do not miss the opportunity to enjoy the enchanting views of Trans-Ili Alatau and the panorama of Almaty, while going up in a funicular from Chimbulak to the Talgar Pass.  And if you are a fan of winter sports, be sure to test the local mountain ski trails and the magnificent ice rink.

The city of Almaty is located only 28 kilometers from the lake. Therefore, guests who stay in the southern capital of Kazakhstan even for short time do not deny themselves the pleasure of visiting this fantastic corner of nature. Moreover, the way to the lake itself gives vivid and delightful impressions.  A well-paved and pleasant road leads to the Big Almaatinka gorge. The views, that open before travellers’ eyes at every turn of the road, which is creeping higher and higher into the mountains, are fascinating.  With each ascent, travellers approach the snowy white peaks of the Tian Shan mountains. Strong dense spruces along the road look like watchful guards who are on patrol. In some places, stony screes approach the roadbed, reminding about that rock falls and winter snow blockages sometimes happen here.  At the entrance to the gorge, the paved road ends, it is possible to go further only in a jeep.   A narrow serpentine dirt road passes through a birch grove, which is especially charming in autumn, shimmering with golden foliage against a background of dark green firs.  The noise of Big Almaatinka comes from somewhere below.

Finally, the road reaches its last ascent and suddenly ends there. Further, up to the lake dam a traveller has to go along a twisty rocky path about 300 meters on foot.  It is interesting that the natural dam was strengthened and made higher, turning the lake into a reservoir that feeds Almaty with potable water.  Therefore, swimming in the lake or having a picnic on the shore is not allowed.  But nobody can forbid you to admire the beauty.  From the dam, the lake can be seen in all details at a glance. Before your eyes there is a dazzling panorama. In the sunlight rays, the lake turquoise surface shimmers with different shades, reflecting in its deep waters the mountain slopes and snow-white clouds wandering in the high sky. The fluffy pine trees growing along the shore fill the clean, invigorating air with the scent of its needles, which makes you feel absolutely enchanted by this place. The snow-capped mountain peaks crown the magnificent picture of the Big Almaty Lake, filling the heart with delight. No doubt, you will leave a part of your soul in these picturesque mountains.

Jatko Y. V.

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