Kyrgyzstan Lakes

Lakes of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s lakes number almost 2,000, but most of these are small lakes caused by glaciers. Most are between 2,500 and 4,000 meters above sea level. Only 16 lakes have a surface area of over 1 square km, and some are only temporary, appearing when snow melts and disappearing when the water evaporates or drains.

In Kyrgyz, the word for lake is kul, as in Issyk-Kul, Son-Kul, and Chatyr-Kul.

Lake

Height, m above sea level

Surface area, sq. km

Volume, million cubic m

Issyk Kul

1606

6236

1738000

Son-Kul

3013

270

2640

Chatyr-Kul

3530

153.5

610

Sary Chelek

1873

4.9

483

Kel-Suu

3514

4.5

338

Kara Suu

2022

4.2

223

Merzbacher

3304

4.5

129

Kulun

2856

3.3

118

Ai-Kul

2937

1.0

57

Kara Toko

2876

1.1

49

Salty (Solenoe)

1609

0,86

-

Ala-Kol

3532

1,26

4.3

Kol-Ukok

-

-

-

Chatyr-Kul Lake

Chatyr-Kul is located in the Ak-Sai Valley, near the border with China. It lies at an altitude of 3,500 meters, and is surrounded by high mountains.

This is one of the largest lakes in Kyrgyzstan, reaching 16.5 meters (55 feet) at its deepest point. Some seventeen rivers feed into the lake, but only one is permanent - the Kekaygyr River. Chatyr-Kul means heavenly lake in Kyrgyz. Read more...

Salty Lake (Solenoe Ozero)

Salty Lake is located along the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, right where the road swings away from the shoreline for a short stretch. Along this stretch there is a turnoff for a dirt road, which, after 13 km (8 miles) brings you to Kara Kol, also known as Salty Lake or Myortvoye Ozero, Russian for “dead sea”. Salty Lake lies in a hollow, cut off from Lake Issyk-Kul by small, dusty hills. Read more...

Son-Kul Lake

Son-Kul is a mountain lake in the central Tian Shan, virtually in the center of Kyrgyzstan. The name translates from Kyrgyz as “the last lake”.

Son-Kul lies at an altitude of 3016 m (9895 feet) above sea level. At 29 km (18 miles) long and 18 km (11 miles) wide, and maximum depth of 13.2 m (43 feet), Son-Kul is Kyrgyzstan’s second largest lake. Read more...

Ala-Kol Lake

Ala-Kol is on several popular trekking routes between Altyn-Arashan and the Karakol Gorge, and lies at an altitude of 3,532 m (11,588 feet) above sea level.

Ala-Kol is set in a barren, rocky depression, and is surrounded by the peaks of the Terskey Ala Too range.

At 2.3 km (1.5 miles) long and 700 m (2,300 feet) wide, Ala-Kol is one of the largest of the 729 lakes in the Issyk-Kul basin. The crystal clear waters of the lake are fed by glacial streams, and the outflow forms a waterfall. Ala-Kol freezes from October until May. Read more...

Merzbacher Lake

Merzbacher Lake is in the northeastern corner of Kyrgyzstan, where two ridges of the Tian Shan converge and peaks rise to over 6000 m (19,685 feet). In the shadow of Khan Tengri lies the Inylchek Glacier, near the border with Kazakhstan and Peak Pobeda to the north and the border with China to the south. Stretching for 60 kilometers (37 miles) and covering an area of 583 square kilometers (225 square miles) with ice, some of it as much as 540 m (1,770 feet) thick, this is one of the most famous glaciers in the world. Read more...

Sary Chelek Lake

Sary Chelek Lake is some 1873 meters (6,145 feet) above sea level, and is 7.5 km (4.66 miles) long. Sary Chelek varies in width, from 350 m (1,150 feet) to 1,500 m (4,920 feet), and at its deepest point reaches a depth of 234 m (768 feet), making it the second deepest lake in Kyrgyzstan. The name Sary Chelek means “yellow bucket”. Read more...

Kol-Ukok Lake

Kol-Ukok Lake is located in the Naryn Region in the Terskey Ala-Too Range. The area is inhabited by local shepherds in the summer, who often offer visitors kymyz (fermented mare’s milk) and kurut (dried salty yogurt). Also living in the area are wolves, foxes, hares and mountain goats, and plenty of wild plants and flowers, like wild garlic and edelweiss. Read more...

Kel-Suu Lake

Kel-Suu Lake is rapidly becoming one of Kyrgyzstan’s best-known sites. At 3,514 m (11,529 feet) above sea level, Kel-Suu was only recently formed by a landslide in the 1980s. One side is formed by sheer cliffs, and the other by the Sary-Beles Mountain. Located on the Kurumduk River, the water has a greenish tint, but sometimes in the spring, the whole lake drains, and all that is left is the dry lake bed. Read more...