In total, there are almost 2000 lakes in Kyrgyzstan, with a combined area of 6836 km2. Most of them are small mountain lakes, located at altitude between 2500 and 4000 meters above sea level and were formed as a result of glaciation. Only 16 of the lakes have a surface area of over 1 km2.
In Kyrgyz, the word for lake is "kul" - as in Issyk Kul, Son Kul and Chatyr Kul.
The major lakes in Kyrgyzstan are the following:
Issyk Kul is the most visited lake and included in almost every tour in Kyrgyzstan. If you travel to Kyrgyzstan, and do not visit Issyk Kul lake, it is like not have visited Kyrgyzstan at all. Issyk Kul - The pearl of the Tian Shan - the name means "war, lake" because it never freezes over. This is because, lying at the bottom of a draining basin, it has no outlet and evaporation means that the water is salty - lowering the freezing point. Actually, the very north eastern corner which is shallower and narrower may sometimes develops a thin covering of ice.
The lake lies at 1600 m a.s.l. at the bottom of a depression, ringed by mountains. At about 180 km long, 60 km wide and a maximum depth of about 700 m, it is the world's second largest mountain lake (after Lake Titicaca in South America). It is also claimed to be the world's second most transparent lake (after Lake Baykal) with a visibility of about 20 m.
The water level varies and is currently receding - partly as a result of the diversification of rivers for irrigation - and possibly as a result of climatic changes.
Many tours in Kyrgyzstan will have a visit to the the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan, known as Son Kul lake. It is the largest freshwater lake and is located at 3016 m a.s.l. on a treeless plateau which provides lush meadowland for summer pastures. The water flow out through the Kajyrty River and into the Naryn River.
Chayr Kul - the highest lake in the republic at 3530 m, fed by the Kok Aygyr river and with no outflows. There are no fish in the lake. If your tour in Kyrgyzstan is finished in Torugart Chinese border, then you will have a chance to see it. Other than that there is no sense of visiting it as it is located on the borderline.
The Merzbacher lake is the most mysterious and strange geological feature - lakes that appear and disappear each summer. The lakes at their greatest extent measure about 4 km by 1 km and can vary between 40-80 meters in depth. This lake is not included into regular tours in Kyrgyzstan as it is difficult to reach and possible during trekking only.
Sary Chelek - a flooded mountain valley in the south west of Kyrgyzstan, surrounded by wood slopes and fed by many mountain streams, this fresh water lake is often thought to be the most beautiful. It is the centre of a National Park and access is (supposedly) strictly controlled. If you travel in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan, you have to stop at this lake of amazing beauty.
Kyrgyzstan has a big source of water including the lakes where you can travel and discover on your own during our tours. Book them now!