How to Get to Big Almaty Lake, Kazakhstan - One of the World's Most Surreal Lakes

Big Almaty Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes we've ever seen. If it was located somewhere in Europe, it would definitely be one of the most visited natural attractions, especially considering the fact how easy it is to reach it. However, because it is in the high mountains of the country that no one cares about - Kazakhstan, hardly anyone even heard about it. But if you love off the beaten path places, you'll love Kazakhstan. And Big Almaty lake will be one of the highlights of this vast and rich in spectacular natural wonders country. But although it's so close to the largest city in Kazakhstan - Almaty - and getting there is not a problem, it's quite tricky because it has been closed off for tourists by the government. So, how to get there?

 

How to get to Almaty lake



The Big Almaty lake is one of the reservoirs that provide fresh water for the city of Almaty. The government has introduced a ban for tourists trying to get close to the lake in order to prevent a possibility of contamination. A few years ago, the lake was open to the public, but not anymore, unfortunately. Even on Wikitravel it says the lake is closed now. Wikitravel goes on to say that the guards intimidate tourists with the guns (!) in order to get bribes. But, from our experience, this kind of information usually tends to be way exaggerated. If you do not trespass into the forbidden territory (behind the signs that clearly say "no entry") - you will be fine. No one asked us for any bribes.

Considering how close the lake is from the city of Almaty (you can visit it during one afternoon by a taxi for less than 20 USD) but knowing the info that we'd read on Wikitravel, we were wondering whether we should go there at all. In the end, we decided to give it a go and take a risk anyway. We arranged a taxi in our hostel and soon enough we were driving up the winding roads in the mountains admiring the amazing views. After around 50 minutes or so, we got to the lake. It was much cooler here as the elevation is way higher than in Almaty (over 2500 meters/8200 ft. above the sea level).

We started walking down the path but we were stopped and turned around by the guards - we were not asked for anything. But it was actually true that the area was closed. We were extremely disappointed because we knew how amazing the lake was. Anyway, we didn't give up and ask the taxi driver to drive a bit more up the road. He was reluctant but finally he agreed and he stopped a bit higher. Then, we continued walking a bit and we finally right in front of our eyes - the whole panoramic view of the lake appeared.

 

 Ile Alatau Mountain range on the way from Almaty

Ile Alatau Mountain range on the way from Almaty

 Common sight in Kazakhstan - horses grazing

Common sight in Kazakhstan - horses grazing

 Beautiful autumn colors

Beautiful autumn colors

 Il Alatau mountain range near Almaty

Il Alatau mountain range near Almaty

 Steep mountains near Almaty

Steep mountains near Almaty

 Approaching the lake - the trail visible on the road (unfortunately - this trail is not open to the public anymore)

Approaching the lake - the trail visible on the road (unfortunately - this trail is not open to the public anymore)

 The road near the lake

The road near the lake

 Near the lake

Near the lake

 

Big Almaty Lake - the facts and experience

 

Big Almaty Lake is located in the Tian Shan mountain range in the northern part called Ile Alatau. It is only 15 km (9 miles) away from the former capital and largest city in Kazakhstan - Almaty (you can have a look at our post about Almaty city here). At the elevation of over 2500 km, the climate up there is harsher and colder than in Almaty.

The milky blue color (which was just like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland) was unbelievably stunning. I swear it looks way better than in the photos (of course if the weather is good). The air was crisp and the surrounding snowy peaks made it even more impressive. Here, we were far from the guards so we could walk down a bit to get closer to the lake. Of course, on the one hand we were disappointed that we were unable to reach the shore but on the other hand we were so glad that we took the chance and here it was - we could experience something so extraordinary that was so easy to get to.


If we had listened to the advice on Wikipedia, we would have missed one of the most amazing sights ever. We wished we could have spent more time there, but unfortunately we had to go back and the taxi driver was getting a little impatient.

If you ever visit Almaty, don't miss the Big Almaty lake, even if it is closed off as you can get the best views and see it amazingly well from the road. It was a bonus to all the attractions we've seen in Kazakhstan!

 

 Immensely blue water at the shore

Immensely blue water at the shore

 The water seems as blue as the sky

The water seems as blue as the sky

 A dry thistle contrasting with the deep blue color

A dry thistle contrasting with the deep blue color

 Along the shore

Along the shore

 Big Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake

 Big Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake

 Big Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake

 Big Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake

 Guards patrolling the lake

Guards patrolling the lake

 

Author: Tom @ Adventurous Travels

 

Related Posts

 

 

 

Copying without permission is not allowed. If you wish to use any of the site's content (photos or text) or work with us, please contact us.

We welcome questions, advice, support or criticism. However, spam comments will be removed.