Lake Karakul, Kashgar

Sparkling jewel at the foot of the Pamir Mountains

At the foot of the Pamir Mountains, surrounded by the three highest peaks there is azure Lake Karakul, a pure pearl among the harshest landscapes in the west of Xinjiang. The lake is located at an altitude of 3652 m above sea level and 200 km from Kashgar.

The area around the lake is quite remarkable. From one side there is a boundless stony desert, with sand dunes and small oases occasionally coming across, while from the other - the inaccessible Pamir Mountains with its slightly rugged beauty, beneficially fetching out Lake Karakul. But yet, among this inhospitable landscape in the band of pastures that starts near the lake, cattle breeders put their yurts and graze their herds of sheep, horses and camels. The greater part of the population is the Kirghiz, constantly moving from pasture to pasture.

Yurts at Karakul Lake, China
Karakul Lake, China
Karakul Lake, China

At night a scene - an unaccustomed to the eye of metropolitans can be watched: bonfires built at a certain distance from one another gather the shepherds’ families around, while farther, the crystal clear expanse of Lake Karakul, seen against the background the mountains, like a mirror, reflects the light of the moon in its surface.

Karakul Lake is one of the most frequently visited tourist places around Kashgar. The excursions, arranged there, give you a possibility not only to enjoy the natural beauty of the area, but also to get to know better the life of the local people and their unique culture. For a certain fee, you can stay overnight in a yurt of the locals and enjoy all the charms of a nomadic lifestyle. You can see some campgrounds scattered around the lake, but still bear in mind that the lake is located at high altitude where temperatures are often below zero. One of the main rules for all travelers visiting the lake - no swimming is allowed, as the locals use the water for drinking.