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The most stunning lakes of Central Asia & Mongolia

The most stunning lakes of Central Asia & Mongolia

Ati 3 hours ago
By Ati | Wednesday 12 February, 2020 12 February, 2020
Kazakhstan tours guides


In Central Asia and Mongolia, there are many beautiful lakes and we really mean magnificent lakes. Some of them are huge as the sea, some are high up in the mountains and some even have nice beaches. So here is our list of the most stunning lakes in Central Asia and in Mongolia (not a ranking). Feel free to add your favorite lake in the comment section below. 

Kolsay Lakes, Kazakhstan

Kolsai lake

About a six-hour drive from Almaty is the Kolsay Lake. There are three lakes in total. You can drive up to the first one, the Kolsay lake. The lake is crystal clear and you can see some remaining trees in the middle of the lakes that makes for a mystical atmosphere. From there, it is an 8 km walk (or horseback riding) along the river to the second lake which is also stunning. The smaller third lake is at an altitude of 2800 meters but beware it might not be allowed to go there because it is very close to the Kyrgyz border. It is likely you meet some border guards on horseback in the forest. There are some cabins for rent if you want to spend the night here. 

Lake Song-Kol, Kyrgyzstan

Song Kol lake

In the center of Kyrgyzstan lies the beautiful lake Song-Kol. In summer it is possible to get there from the villages Kochkor or Jumgal. But the best way is to hike or to ride on horseback. If there is snow, horses are the only possible transportation. It depends very much on the weather since the lake is about 3'016 meters above sea level. Along its shore, there are nice yurt camps in summer and it makes a perfect place to enjoy the nomadic lifestyle. Photo: @rosalida2

Toktogul Reservoir, Kyrgyzstan

Toktogul Water reservoir

On the way from Bishkek to Osh you pass the big lake of Toktogul. It is one of the largest water reservoirs of Kyrgyzstan. The Naryn river has awesome color and because it's dammed here the lake has a beautiful color too. The lake is quite huge but you can drive along its shores for quite a while. The best views are on the opposite side of the town of Toktogul. There are some restaurants and cafes with lake views. A hotel and a camping ground are available at the south shore of the lake. 

Iskanderkul lake, Tajikistan

Iskanderkul lake

Tajikistan has hundreds of pristine lakes and one of them is the lake Iskanderkul. It is situated in the northwestern part of Tajikistan and the way up there is quite a challenge. You'll definitely need a 4W-Drive to go up the last couple of kilometers to the lake. What makes this lake so fascinating is that is surrounded by the majestic Fann mountains. It is just beautiful when the snow-covered peaks come out of the clouds and are reflected on the surface of the lake. There are a few options to stay overnight. Spending a night or two and hiking along the shore is definitely worth it. No wonder, the president of Tajikistan has a summer house here too. 

Yashilkul lake, Tajikistan

Yashilkul lake

The highest mountain lake we have ever seen, located at about 3700 meters about sea level, here still frozen in May. To see this lonesome lake you have to leave the Pamir Highway M41 and drive in direction of the little town Bulunkul. After the town, it is just another 2 km drive to the lake. The road takes you up the hill where you have a stunning view over the lake. You can drive along its shore and climb down to the water. Accommodation is available in Bulunkul in the form of homestays.

Chorvok Reservoir, Uzbekistan

Chorvok reservoir

The reservoir is about a one hour drive away from Tashkent and therefore a popular place to visit for locals from Tashkent. So don’t expect loneliness here. You will feel a holiday town atmosphere here. The turquoise color makes the lake very special and it is fun to stroll around and watch the Uzbek families having picknicks. You can even swim in hot summer days. Accommodation is available in the form of soviet style hotels and in the town of Chorvok there are lots of Shashlik restaurants to chill out.

Khuvsgul Lake, Mongolia

Khuvsgul lake

The color of this lake is unbelievable. It changes really fast and can change from gray to tropical blue in hours. Khuvsgul Lake is the little brother of the Baikal Lake in Russia. It is not as big but still pretty massive, it looks like a sea. It is a famous spot in Mongolia and therefore it has quite many accommodation options. The best way is to rent a cabin or a yurt directly at the lake and watch the yaks and the horses pass by while reading a good book in the sunshine. Or ride along its shores on a horseback and just enjoy the view. 

Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake, Mongolia

Terkhiin Tsaagan Nuur

Also known as the Great White lake, this beauty is situated in the central part of Mongolia. The tale says that an old nomad couple forgot to close the tap at the fountain hundreds of years ago and there was a flood, that’s how the lake was created. When you rent a horse from the nearby locals and ride up the hill or just walk up, the view on the lake is magnificent. The yurts which are gathered around the lake and the color of the blue lake and the green of the mountains make it the perfect photo spot. Accommodation is available in the form of yurt camps.


Comments (1)



4 years ago

Good and interesting article and great pictures, Ati.  

Most of the lakes are mountain lakes, excluding, probably, Mongolian Khuvsgul lake.  By the way, what does Khuvsgul mean?  Is it Moingolian name or Turkic name?  Ending "Gul" seems Turkic and could mean "lake".  Majority of the lakes have location in Tien Shan and Pamir mountains.  Such a big territory of the mountains.  Really, Central Asia is mountain region.    

Did you notice Iskanderkul in Tajikistan, probably, connected with name of Alexander the Great, Tajiks believe that he reached this region and ruled them.  Interesting also is that Yashilkul in Tajikistan is also Turkic name and, probably, means "Blue Lake".  

In the South Kazakhstan we have also many mountain or moraine lakes.  Origin of all the lakes in the mountains is also one - the glaciers, which are melting.  Very well known are Sayram Lakes in Sayram -Ugam natural Park. 

It is interesting fact that in the South we have desert (wild steppe) lake - Kyzylkul.  It is purely salty where  people come for natural treatment.  I shall try to tell more in my future articles.  So you and your friends have reason to come. Welcome! 

Kind regards,