Alakol Lake Roadmap: Abai Region Aims to Make Kazakhstan’s Natural Treasure More Accessible to Tourists

ASTANA – The Abai Region akimat (administration) has set out the Alakol Lake development roadmap that includes 40 measures to improve the quality of services, allowing tourists seeking to swim and laze comfortable access to Kazakhstan’s remote and stunningly beautiful lake, reported the region’s press service on May 4.

Alakol is one of the largest lakes in Kazakhstan with a pebble beach. Photo credit: Shutterstock. Click to see the map in full size. The map is designed by The Astana Times.

One of the main strategies is to improve the infrastructure, ecology and safety of tourists, targeting those seeking slow-paced holidays to ease mind and body.

“The reconstruction of the system of lighting equipment, video surveillance and outdoor lighting of Urzhar airport is being completed. Design and estimate documentation for the reconstruction of the airport terminal has been developed. The project is under consideration by the state expertise,” said Aidyn Karimov, the region’s first deputy akim (governor).

The akimat is also investing in constructing a fire station, lakeshore protection and drainage canal construction.

Swim and spa destination

A naturally formed river-water-fed Alakol Lake is seen locally as a swim and spa destination, with mineral-rich warm waters known for therapeutic effects. It is equally attractive for solo travelers and sizable groups, whether families or friends.

Translated as the “colorful lake,” Alakol changes color depending on the weather, time of day and time of year. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Along with Lake Balkhash, Alakol is one of the largest lakes in Kazakhstan. It is 104 kilometers in length and 52 kilometers in width. The maximum depth is around 54 meters with a pebble beach. The water is warm, shallow, and swimmable. At the right time of year, the water temperature reaches 24-26 degrees Celcius.

Alakol straddles the border between Abai and Zhetisu regions, with Akshi and Koktuma resort villages on the western shore, 60 kilometers from the Chinese border.

The geographic feature of the lake’s location, surrounded by mountains on one side, steppes on the other, and a 10 kilometers passage called Zhungar Gates in between, causes strong winds over the lake.

Lake Alakol translates as the “colorful lake” in Kazakh and it is for a reason: no filters are needed to capture its iridescent turquoise depths that change color depending on the weather, time of day and time of year.

The chances to take the best photos occur at sunset when the sun rays tint the lake in various colors simultaneously. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The water is bright blue when the sun shines, green when the breeze blows, light gray when it rains, and sinister dark when a strong wind strikes. It is most beautiful when one cannot tell where the lake ends and the sky begins. The chances to take the best photos occur at sunset when the sun rays tint the lake in various colors simultaneously.

Whether one desires sunbathing, swimming, camping, fishing, horse riding or hiking, Alakol ticks all the boxes. 

To top it all, the salt lake is considered therapeutic due to the composition of the water, which has been proven by scientific studies. Bathing in such water is beneficial for people with joint-system diseases and skin conditions.

There are large mud bath locations, so one can expect to see people plastered with mineral-rich mud. 

During the Soviet era, cosmonauts came here to heal in these waters and remove radiation remains. 

How to get to Alakol

Today, flights from Almaty to Urzhar, Semei, Urzhar, and back to Almaty operate twice a week. From June to August, the frequency of flights will increase to three-four times a week. From May 15, Qazaq Air will launch direct flights from Astana to Urzhar.  

Best season

The bathing season usually opens in mid-June and ends in September. The most favorable period here is July and early August, when the water is the warmest.

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