Markakol - Nature Reserve
The Markakol Lake is one of the most beautiful ones in Kazakhstan. It is situated at the height of 1447m above sea level. The nature around the lake fascinates you at first sight. It is surrounded with thick forests and since the lake lies in the highlands the lakesides end off with steep slopes here and there and in some places they are covered with meadows. The Markakol Lake is located in the Markakol bolson surrounded with the Kurchum and Azutau ranges.
The lake itself has an oval form elongated from the north-east to the south-west. Its length is 38 km, width is 19 km, and area is455 square km, the depth is about 14m. The Kaldzhir River flows from the lake.
When brightly lit by the sun the Markakol Lake acquires a bright blue or light blue color, and when the weather changes, when it is raining or snowing the lake becomes grey and black or silvery. The water in the lake is clear and clean. The lake gets frozen in winter. Its glaciations begins approximately in the 20-s days of November. The lake ice thickness comes to 60-120 cm.
On 4 August 1976 the lake and the territories adjacent to it was announced a reserve. The total area of the reserve is 71,300 ha. On 11 December 2007 the Government of Kazakhstan expanded the territory to 102,979 ha.
The purpose for establishment of this reserve was protection and preservation of the nature, meadows, taiga and mountain forests in the slopes of the Altai Mountains in the region of the Markakol Lake. The flora of the lake includes over 700 species of plants. The fauna of the reserve amounts to nearly 55 species of mammals among them are the elk, red deer, brown bear, wild boar, wolf, carcajou, sable, mink and snow leopard.
The reserve’s aquatic fauna and flora are not less rich and diverse. The lake is inhabited with the lenok, grayling, loaches and many other species of rare fishes. There also live a lot of rare species of birds - the black stork, hazel hen, chuckar partridge, kestrel, partridge etc. To preserve these rare species of animals and birds was the main purpose of opening the reserve.
Today numerous tourists visit the Markakol Lake to enjoy the pristine nature and see one of the most beautiful alpine lakes of Central Asia.