Big Almaty Lake Exploring Ili-Alatau National Park

Big Almaty Lake (BAL) several names like Bolshoye Almatinskoye and Bolshoye Almatinskoye Ozero (Big Lake of Almaty in Russian or BAO) and Zhasylkol (Green Lake in Kazakh).

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It isn't that big as it's called. It's only 1,6 km long, just under 1 km wide and up to 38 m deep. It is surrounded by three mountain peaks: Soviet (4 317m), Ozerniy (4 110m) and Tourist (3 954m).

Depending on time of day, month or year, BAL changes its colors and reflects the surrounding beauty on its surface. When you are in Almaty and you've had enough of the city bustle, I recommend you head towards BAL for a bit of fresh air and tranquility. It's only about 25 km from the city and sits about 2500 m above sea level.

How to get there?

You can get there On Foot. I suggest to:

  • take a public bus up to the crossing of Al-Farabi and Navoi streets. (There are quite a number of buses you can take, depending on where your starting point is);

  • then take bus N28 towards the mountains;

  • walk about 8 km until you reach the Pipe (Almaty Main Water Supply).

  • follow the Pipe up about 1500 m. And Voila.

By 4WD (however you do see some chancers on normal cars as well, I personally don't recommend):

  • Let's start from Al Farabi and Navoi roundabout;
  • Take the road up, pass the traffic police check point, then the environmental check point to the Ili-Alatau National Park (need to pay entry fee KZT 200 per person), then keep following the road;
  • When you've done just under 10 km you'll see the fork on the road with Kosmostantsiya sign. If you go straight, you reach the AlmaArasan Gorge. You'll need to go left and after a bit of driving you reach the paved road;
  • When you've driven 16 km since the starting point, you see the road going to "Alpine Rose" and if you look straight you see a dead end (which is the start of the road along the Almaty Water Supply "Pipe");
  • You need to go left, the road gets quite dangerous;
  • Then you pass meteorologists' camp and then after about 2 km you pass the Alpine Rose Hotel, which is next to BAL
  • You'll see the barrier to enter into the area of BAL.

Pictures of Big Almaty Lake

September colors of Almaty Lake
(all pictures are courtesy of Malene Heine, unless otherwise indicated below any picture)

Big Almaty Lake in September
Big Almaty Lake in Autumn

October colors of Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake in October
Gorgeous View Over Bolshoye Almatinskoye Ozero

Image credit to Rise2Rise

November colors of Almaty Lake

November in Almaty Lake
Almaty Lake in November
Almaty Lake in Winter

June colors

Almaty Lake in Summer

Want to know what's further up like the hikers below do? It's not a secret. About 2 km further up on a very ancient glacier valley you can find the Tian Shan Astronomic Observatory (2 700m above sea level).

If you keep going past the observatory after about 8 km you hit the Cosmostation (Station for Researches of Cosmic Rays) and you find yourself at 3 300m above sea level.

You can even cross the border to the Kyrgyz Republic, provided all your papers are in order, situation is stable in the country and the borders are open.

Road up from Almaty Lake

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