The Big Almaty Lake belongs to the Bostandyk district of Almaty and is located 20 km south-east of the centre of the former capital of Kazakhstan. In the immediate vicinity of the reservoir passes the state border with Kyrgyzstan, but the presence of a special pass for visiting BAO is not required. According to a government decree in 2015, the border regime on a section of 7-12 km inland of Kazakhstan was abolished in relation to tourists - residents and non-residents of the country, as well as stateless persons.
Features of the reservoir.
Contrary to its name, the alpine lake has a small surface area of water. It is located at an altitude of more than 2500 m above sea level, surrounded by snowy mountain peaks of Zailiysky Alatau.
- The peak of the Soviets (now Kanysh Saptaev) is 4317 meters.
- Peak Ozerny - 4110 meters.
- Peak Tourist - 3954 meters.
- Peak Big Almaty - 3681 meters.
Mountain cleft appeared as a result of active tectonic processes that occurred in the distant past. More than two thousand years ago, a powerful earthquake provoked a massive collapse that blocked the gorge. As a result, a natural dam was formed and a deep body of water striking with its unearthly beauty, which became a real turquoise pearl of the Northern Tien Shan.
The area of the Big Almaty Lake is about 0.42 square meters. km, the maximum dimensions in the plan are 1.6 * 0.7 km, the depth is up to 45 m, the water temperature in summer is not higher than 10-12 degrees.
The pond is filled with clear and environmentally friendly fresh water. In calm sunny weather, majestic mountain slopes are reflected on its mirror surface. The lake is surrounded by high banks, covered with wooded vegetation. The colour of the water is amazingly beautiful. It can change throughout the day, taking on turquoise, ultramarine and emerald shades.
The depth of BAO depends on the time of year. It becomes most full-flowing in July-August. In winter, the water level can fall by 15–20 meters. Recently, due to mudflows descending from mountain slopes, a decrease in the size of the lake’s water area has been observed. But the main culprit in reducing the volume of water is its selection for the drinking needs of a large metropolis. The feed of the Big Almaty is due to springs, streams, descending from the mountain peaks, and the flows of the Big Almaty River.
The temperature difference at the foot of the slopes and in the area of the reservoir is quite noticeable. Even on hot days, BAO is cool. The lake begins to freeze in the month of October. The period of stable ice cover lasts 6–7 months.
During the construction of the cascade of hydroelectric power plants at the turn of 50-60. last century, the drain from the reservoir was regulated. There was a possibility of emergency spillway. The natural dam was raised and reinforced with concrete slabs.
What is next to BAO
400 meters from the shores of the reservoir rises an observation deck. At a distance of two kilometers is the Tien Shan Astronomical Observatory. Eight kilometers away, on the Zhusaly-Kezen pass, there is a space station equipped with space radiation particle recorders. Its height above sea level is 3336 m.
The Alpine Rose, the highest mountain hotel closest to BAO, is built at an absolute elevation of 2350 meters. It stands in the middle of the road from the main road to the reservoir. At the foot of the slope is the Ak-Orda recreation area. Here you can eat and have fun.
Rules for visiting the Big Almaty Lake
The reservoir supplies Almaty with drinking water, and therefore, together with the dam and other hydrogeological facilities, it is protected by state services. On the way to the lake there is a poster warning of responsibility for a number of violations.
It is strictly forbidden:
- unauthorized passage of motor vehicles to the coastline;
- approach to water for any purpose, including swimming and fishing;
- arrangement of picnics and overnight stays;
- making bonfires;
- littering nearby territory;
- grazing and livestock animals;
- access to the dam without accompaniment of workers of the cascade of hydroelectric power stations.
The order near the lake is being watched by the military. In some places, shields with warnings and metal fences that prevent access to water are visible. It is interesting that back in the 1930s, vacationers sailed on BAO in rowboats, but at that time fresh water was not yet used for the life support of the city.