Markakol Nature Reserve
Markakol Lake in Altay Mountains is one of the most beautiful lakes in East Kazakhstan and is called a pearl of this region. The lake is surrounded by Kurchum Mountains from the North and Azutau Mountains from the South.
Markakol is one of the largest lakes in Altay, its length is 38 km, width is 19 km. Area of the lake is 455 square km. About 70 rivers disgorge into Markokol lake, but only one river Kalzhir flows from here.
The Lake Markakol is located on the height of 1447 metres above sea level. Water in Markakol Lake is clean and very soft, and its main wealth is uskuch of salmon fish family, which can be found in this lake only. The best season for fishermen is in late autumn and early winter.
The land surrounding the lake is as beautiful as the lake itself. The pride of Markakol Nature Reserve is not only the lake, but also taiga wood, clear mountain rivers, shining springs. Picturesque mountain slopes are decorated with thick fir-trees. Amazing panorama of Sarymsakty Mountain chain with snow on the top can be seen in Northern sides.
Approaching Markakol Lake, you will see Urunkhanka village, located on the shore of the lake. First inhabitants settled here a long time ago. Some families are even considered to be descendants of Estonian immigrants. Small log-houses, built all over the village seem quite exotic for tourists from Europe. Tourists can stay in guest houses as well as in nomadic yurts.
Flora and Fauna
Flora and fauna of the region is rich and varied. Subalpe meadows are rich in different herbs, rare medical plants (rhodiola rosea and carthamoid rhapontic, bergenia and others). Markakol Nature Reserve flora has about 900 varieties of plants. Among the plants included in the Red Book we can note such plants as Siberian fawn lily, Altaic rhubarb, sweet locoweed, tulip, Steppe peony.
The fauna counts 4 types of reptiles, 2 types of amphibious, 255 species of birds and 58 representatives of mammals. The following species of the vertebrata are included in Red Book of Kazakhstan: black stork, osprey (Pandio haliaetus), bald eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), golden eagle, blue-grey crane, snow leopard.
The territory, including Markakol Nature Reserve and Katon-Karagay State National Nature Park located not far from here were created as key areal of GEF, UNDP, WWF, NABU and GTZ International programmes for conservation of Altai-Sayan biologically varied ecological region.