Although it is called Big Almaty Lake, those who see it for the first time will be surprised - the actual size is small. Big Almaty Lake got its name after the gorge in which it is located - Almaty Canyon. Locals call the Big Almaty Lake simply BAO, as it's an abbreviation of its name in Russian - Bolshoe Almatinskoe Ozero. This small but Big Almaty Lake is located 15 km on the south of Almaty. The lake is 1.6 km long, from 0.75 to 1 km wide, and its depth reaches 30–40 m. Big Almaty Lake is located in the Trans-Ili Alatau Mountains and belongs to Ile-Alatau National Park.
Previously, the lake was called Zhosalykol, which means reddish. The lake is located at an altitude of 2500 meters above sea level and is surrounded by mountain peaks. The highest rock is called the Peak of the Soviets and reaches more than 4000 meters. Like most of the lakes and reservoirs of Kazakhstan, Big Almaty Lake was formed as a result of an earthquake. About 2000 years ago, a landslide came down the Big Almaty Peak, blocking the gorge and forming a natural dam.
Since the water from the lake is used as a tap water for Almaty residents, swimming in the lake is strictly prohibited, as well as having picnics on its territory. But this does not make the lake less popular. In addition, not far from Big Almaty Lake, there is an observatory (the Tien Shan Astronomical Observatory), from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the starry sky. With the fluctuating level of water in the lake, the color of the surface changes as well. Depending on the time of year, it can go from a pale green to a super blue color. This is the best reason to come here more than once. By the way, same color changing also happens in the Lake of Kaindy.
Since the lake is surrounded by mountains, the water temperature is usually low, and even in the summer, it reaches only 12-13 degrees. Already in October, the lake begins to freeze, and in winter, it is completely covered with ice.
Small but Big Almaty Lake is a true masterpiece of nature. Probably, when you see the photos you will think it's photoshopped, but only after visiting it, you will understand that it's truly that beautiful.
Cover photo © Credits to Aureliy/iStock
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