Big Almaty Lake: Photos, restrictions for visitors, how to come

Big Almaty Lake: Photos, restrictions for visitors, how to come

Big Almaty Lake is one of nature’s paradises found in the Tian Shan Mountain to the north of Ile Alatau. The scenic reservoir may be small, but it is big in reputation and worth a drive. It is flocked by tourists eager to have a taste of the unique mountain atmosphere.

Big Almaty Lake
Image:, @flazinhotravels
Source: UGC

Big Almaty Lake got its name from the gorge within which it is located – Almaty Canyon. Those who know it better call it BAO or the Russian version of its name, Bolshoe Almatinskoe Ozero. You can find this beautiful scenery which is about 15 km from Big Almaty Lake to Almaty city to the south of the city.

The reservoir is part of the Ile-Alatau National Park. Before getting the name Big Almaty Lake, it used to be called the Zhosalykol, which means reddish. A Big Almaty Lake tour is worth every minute and penny spent.

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Origin of Big Almaty Lake

This reservoir was formed as a result of an earthquake as is the case with many other lakes and reservoirs in Kazakhstan. It is believed that more than 2000 years ago there was a landslide on the slope of the Big Almaty peak thus blocking the gorge and, in the process, forming a natural dam which became the Big Almaty Lake.


It is easy to conclude that Big Almaty Lake pics are photoshopped, but the reservoir is as beautiful as the images show. The changes that may appear are due to different seasons of the year and times of the day.

1. A sight to behold

Big Almaty Lake canoeing
Image:, @flazinhotravels
Source: UGC

This beautiful paradise is a breathtaking sight at any time, but you should see it in the morning when the sun is rising. The sky above is pure blue, the mountain tops are covered in snow, and then there is the surrounding green vegetation. It is the perfect place for peaceful meditation or even just sightseeing.

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2. When it is winter in Big Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake bus 28
Image:, @wanderbirdtravel
Source: UGC

The mountain ranges may be covered in snow, but the water remains in liquid for the most part of the year. In the evening, it provides a beautiful contrast of colours that are attractive to look at. The good thing about this place is that it looks just like in the pictures, so one gets the real deal when visiting the reservoir.

Why is Big Almaty Lake blue? The waters of the reservoir are sometimes blue in appearance, especially when the sky is clear and reflecting on the surface of the water.

3. White as snow, clear as day

The reservoir represents the purity of mother nature in many ways. The water is ever clear and unpolluted with vegetation climbing the mountain slopes to the point where it meets with the snow.

You need not carry a mirror because you can see your reflection in the water and on a cloudy day, the reflection of clouds adds to the natural beauty of the place.

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4. A warm summer

Big Almaty Lake tour
Image:, @wanderbirdtravel
Source: UGC

It is not always winter in the reservoir. When summer comes, it is also a spectacular spot for sunbathing and enjoying the scenery. During such days, you can easily lose track of time and find yourself spending the entire day just staring.

5. The Big Almaty Lake blossom

Big Almaty Lake pics
Image:, @wanderbirdtravel
Source: UGC

In spring, there is a blossom of vegetation at the reservoir. All varieties of plants grow during this time, and it is no problem spotting lilies and other flowers sprouting.

It is a place one easily falls in love with, and there is no doubt once you go there, you will wish to return again and again.

6. Big Almaty Lake on a cloudy day

You have been here on a sunny day, but what does it look like on a cloudy day? It is just like adding color contrast on a painting when the clouds shield the sun from shining on the reservoir. The landscape becomes even greener while the water looks like an array of colors due to the reflecting of the clouds and vegetation.

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Restrictions for visitors

The reservoir is an asset to the people of this city not just for its beauty but also because it is the source of their tap water. This means the site has to be protected for conservation and sustainability purposes. Therefore, you should be aware of Big Almaty Lake restrictions.

Swimming in the reservoir is not allowed. Picnics are also not allowed in the reservoir’s territory. Be warned then that in the Big Almaty Lake canoeing and other activities are not allowed other than seeing the reservoir from the road.

How to come

Tourists can access the reservoir by car, but this will take a one hour drive from the city center. Those without a vehicle can board Big Almaty Lake bus 28 from the President’s Park.

Alternatively, adventurous individuals can go to the reservoir by bike or hiking. Hiking will take about half a day, so tourists are encouraged to begin early. The reservoir is 15km from the city center and is located within a national park.

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This means tourists have to pay a fee to get granted access. Tourists are encouraged to visit the reservoir more than once to enjoy different views during different seasons of the year.

The water level always fluctuates, and it changes from pale green to deep blue depending on the time of the year.

Proximity to the astronomical observatory

Since there are restrictions against camping and swimming in the reservoir, tourists find it more valuable to observe it from the nearby Tian Shan astronomical observatory.

The astroclimate here is almost perfect with high transparency of the atmosphere, negligible light pollution, and turbulence. The Big Almaty Lake archaeology museum is among the many other places you can go to when you visit the reservoir.

Among the marvels of nature, Big Almaty Lake trumps many for aesthetics. Here, it is an all-round package within the same area. You will find mountains, beautiful gorges, the sea, unique vegetation, and snow. It is scenic, and the residents have preserved it remarkably well. So when you hear that Big Almaty Lake appears just like in the pictures, you better believe it.

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