Big Almaty Lake
This crystal-clear alpine lake, located on the slopes of the Zailiysky Alatau Mountains, is one of the most spectacular sights near Almaty.
Big Almaty Lake, located 15 km (approx. 9 mi) away from Almaty, is one of the favorite destinations of the city's residents and tourists. This lake, formed as a result of an earthquake, is 30-40 meters (100-130 ft) deep.
The dam offers breathtaking views of the three mountains towering above the lake: the Sovetov Peak, the Ozerny Peak, and the Tourist Peak. Depending on the time of year, and even on the time of day, the lake changes color from turquoise blue in nice weather to grey when it’s raining.
The reservoir is one of the main sources of drinking water for Almaty; therefore, it is forbidden to approach the coastline. However, visitors can admire the scenery from viewing platforms.
Fun fact: ibisbill, a rare type of sedentary bird, live on the lake’s shore, attracting birdwatchers from around the world. You can watch an ibisbill through a telescope or binoculars.
Useful tips for 2020-2021
How to get there
A good paved road leads to the lake, so getting to it is not difficult. You can order a taxi or book a minibus tour in a travel agency. The latter, of course, is more affordable. Hiking to the lake is another option. Start from the checkpoint of Ile-Alatau National Park. In order to get to this post, take Bus # 28 on a bus stop near the Park of the First President in Almaty. From that checkpoint, where you will be charged a small fee, walk a 15-km (9 mi) long paved road. You will significantly shorten your path if you turn to the pipe (through which water flows into the city) at one of the forks in the road.
Food and accommodation
Since Big Almaty Lake is located near the city, you won’t have any problems with food and accommodation. Even beyond the checkpoint, along the road you will find many cafes and restaurants, yurt camps, and small hotels. In summer, the choice is much greater.
Tips for foreign guests
Despite the fact that the lake is located in the border zone, no passes are required to visit it, since the lake is on the list of territories where certain regime restrictions are excluded or suspended.