Lakes and seas of Kazakhstan

Lakes and seas of Kazakhstan offer unique opportunities for beach tourism and recreational activities. The largest lakes in the country are Caspian Sea, Aral Sea, Balkhash, Zaisan and Alakol, and the most popular lakes among tourists also include lakes in Burabay Resort Area, Kapchagay Reservoir, Bukhtarma Reservoir and lakes in Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve.
Some of the Kazakhstan lakes attract tourists for beach tourism and offer holiday villages and resort hotels, others are popular among ‘eco’ tourists. For example, lakes in Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve are a unique place, where more than 300 different species of birds can be found including a Pink Flamingo, thus it is a popular destination for birdwatchers. More detailed information about each of the lakes is given below.

Some facts about lakes and seas in Kazakhstan:
  • - There are 48,262 lakes in total in Kazakhstan. Areas of most of them do not exceed 1 km ².
  • - The largest lake in the world is Caspian Sea, located in the West of Kazakhstan. Aral Sea and Balkhash Lake are also included in the list of 20 biggest lakes of the world.
  • - Most lakes in Kazakhstan (45%) are concentrated in the Northern part of the country.
  • - Overall surface size of lakes in Kazakhstan is more than 45 thousand km ²
 - There is a 'nuclear lake Chagan' in one of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear testing sites, created as a result of the first thermonuclear explosion

 The Caspian Sea is the largest closed lake in the world. The main reason of the fact that the Caspian Sea is considered as a sea is that its base is composed of oceanic crust. The Caspian Sea is located on the border between Europe and Asia. The total area of the reservoir is 371 thousand km ², length of coastline - 7,000 km, maximum depth - 1025 m. The waters of the Caspian Sea wash shores of 5-states - Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Iran and Azerbaijan. Rivers Volga, Ural, Terek, Kura, Emba, Samur and Atrek flow in the sea.
In summer, the water in the Caspian Sea is warming up to 24 - 26, and in some places up to 32 ° C. In winter, this figure, depending on the region, varies from 0 to 10°C.
Studying of fauna of the Caspian Sea, scientists found out that today 101 species of fish resides in a reservoir, including: the roach, carp, perch, carp, mullet, sprats, bream, and salmon. From mammals, the famous Caspian seal inhabits in the sea.
Shipping is well cultivated on the Caspian Sea, including ferry. For example, from the port of Baku you can reach the Kazakh city of Aktau on a ferry, and you can travel from Aktau to Makhachkala. In addition, Caspian Sea has shipping links with the Sea of Azov through the Volga-Don canal.
Mining of oil, gas, salt, limestone, stone, sand and clay is carried on the Caspian Sea.

Before the beginning of shallowing of the water, the Aral Sea was the 4 th largest lake in the world. In 1960 the surface area of the Aral Sea was 68.90 thousand km ², but early in the new millennium, this figure dropped to a mark of 17.16 thousand km ². The reason for such a rapid shallowing of one of the largest reservoirs of the planet is a significant intake of water (for irrigation) from the Rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya that feed the Aral Sea.

According to scientists, to restore pristine state of the Aral Sea it will take at least 200 years. Full restoration of the Aral Sea is possible only if no water would be taken from its feeder rivers. Desiccation of the sea reflected the climate of the region: it has become more continental In addition, the dust from the dried seabed, which contained sea salt, pesticides and other chemicals, was carried by wind for hundreds of kilometers. This naturally had a negative impact on the health of residents of settlements located in purlieu of the Aral Sea.

In 2003, in order to improve the environmental situation in the region, the Government of Kazakhstan decided to build a dam Kokaral (construction stretches from the peninsula Kokaral to the estuary Syr Darya). Such a move would save the northern part of the Aral Sea, now called the Small Aral Sea, or Small. To date, the water level in the Small Aral Sea has increased significantly; in addition, water itself has become less salty, which made it possible to begin the process of breeding of some species of game-fish.

Balkhash is a semi-freshwater drainage lake. Location: the eastern part of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Zhambyl and Karaganda region). Balkhash is the 13th among the largest lakes in the world. Lake area - 16,4 thousand km ², length of coastline - 2,385 km, average depth - 5,8 m. Balkhash lies at an altitude of 340 m above sea level, has a crescent shape. Rivers Karatal, Aksu, Leps and Ayaguz flow into the lake. Peninsula Saryesik naturally divides Lake Balkhash into two almost equal parts - the western and eastern, which differ from each other in depth and water chemistry.
In addition to Saryesik there are several large peninsulas of Lake Balkhash such as Baygabyl, Balay, Shaukar and Kentubek, Korzhintobe. With regard to the islands, there are 43 of them on the lake (total area - 66 km ²). The largest of them are Basaran and Tasaran. The climate in the region of Lake Balkhash is desert; hence, the temperature often crosses the mark of +30°C during summer. Winters are relatively warm, the average January temperature is -14 ° C.
Lake Balkhash is navigable. The navigation period is 210 days. Ships moving across the lake are mainly used for the extraction and transportation of fish, as well as transportation of construction materials. The lake serves a home to more than 20 species of fish, including: Ili and Balkhash bluehead fish, perch, barbel, spike, pike, carp.

Alakol is a salt lake. Location: Balkhash-Alakol lowlands (the boundary of the Almaty and East Kazakhstan region). Area - 2,200 km ², the greatest depth - 45 m. The pond is fed by the Rivers Emel, Taste, Hatynsu and Yrgayty. The duration of the swimming season at Lake Alakol is 3,5 months. Such fishes as marinka, gubach, perch and carp inhabit in the lake. About 40-a species of birds, including flamingos constantly nest along the shores and islands of the lake.

Markakol is a alpine lake located in eastern Kazakhstan. The length of the reservoir is 38 km, width - 19 km. The average depth of the lake is 14 m. Markakol located at an altitude of 1,447 m above sea level. The right tributary of the Irtysh River - a river Kaldzhir - flows out of the lake.
Markakol is rich in fish. Uskuch, eel and, of course, and grayling are encountered here. Coastal forests are abounding with game birds - hazel-grouses, black grouses, capercaillies and partridges. However, in order to hunt and fish in these places you will have to have a special permit, as since 1976, the lake and its surroundings are part of the protected zone.

Zaisan is a lake located in the eastern region between the Altai, Kolbinskiy and Tarbagatai ridges. The length of the reservoir is 105 km, width - 48 km, total area - 1,810 km ², average depth varies from 4 to 6 m. Rivers flowing into Zaisan are Black Irtysh, Kendyrlyk, Kokpektinka, Bugaz, Bazaar, Cherga, Arasan and Ters -Arlyk. There is an opinion that dinosaurs once lived on the shores of the lake. Now, this picturesque corner of Kazakhstan is a popular holiday destination for lovers of fishing, because the lake has a huge amount of different fishes including perch, trout, pike, burbot, ide, tench and crucian carp.

Lake Kurgaldzhyn located at the bottom of the Tengiz-Kurgaldzhyn cavity - the central part of Kazakhstan. The area of the lake is 330 km ², length of coastline - 187 km, average depth - 1,6 m. Lake Kurgaldzhyn is fed by water of River Nur. There are 40 islands on the territory of the lake, the largest of which are Aral-Tube, Kokpekty and Fire Tube. Lake Kurgaldzhyn is a habitat of such species as carp, mirror carp, pike, tench and perch. In addition, gulls, terns and ducks nest on the local islands and the coastal line. However, the main pride of place is pink flamingos.

Tengiz is located in the central part of the Kazakh hills. The area of the reservoir is 1,590 km ², maximum depth - 8 m. The water is bitter and salty. Rivers Nura and Kulanutpes flow in Lake Tengiz. Since 1968, this lake and most of the area around are part of the Kurgaldzhin Protected Hunting Property. Unfortunately, there is no fish in Lake Tengiz. However, despite this, the lake is a habitat of many water birds, including pink flamingos.

Issyk is located in Issyk gorge, northern slope of Trans-Ili Alatau. Distance from city of Almaty is 70 km. The height of the lake is 1,756 meters above sea level. Waters was due to landslide. The average annual temperature of water in the lake ranges from +10 ° C. In 1963, the mudflow is almost completely destroyed the Issyk and the eponymous town, which is located nearby. But despite this, in the beginning of the XXI century scientists managed to restore the 3 / 4 of original volume of the lake.

Big Almaty Lake is located in the Ile-Alatau National Park (28.5 km south of Almaty). Lake area is 1.12 km ², average depth - 25 m. The pond is the result of an earthquake. River Big Almatinka flows into the lake. Big Almaty Lake is surrounded by mountains from all sides. Near the lake there are three major peaks belonging to the Kazakh part of the massif Tien Shan: the peak of Soviets (elevation 4,317 m), the peak Lake (4110 m), the peak Tourist (3,954 m). The Tien-Shan Astronomical Observatory and the cosmic ray research station are located nearby.

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