Lake Karakul

Lake karakul in Pamir

Karakul formed when a giant meteorite struck Earth, possibly some 5 million years ago. Kara-Kul Lake’s diameter is a 25-kilometer (16-mile). It is a hypersaline lake with no external drainage, receiving less than 3 cm precipitation per year. In Central Asia and the Turkic-speaking world large number of Karakul (Kara-Kul, Karakol, Qarakol) destinations. Karakol means black lake, but, the lake is not always black. It indicates the lake supplies by groundwater. Carrying the same name well-known lake is located in China as well nearby the Tajikistan border. 

The lake has 2 basins divided by a peninsula from the south and an island in the north. The island is 8 km long and 4 km wide. The channel between them is 1 km wide. The East part is 22,5 meters deep, while the west basin deepest point is 236 m. Furthermore, three rivers flow in but these days the lake has no outflow and therefore the water is very salty.


Karakul Lake is a high mountain lake at an elevation of 3.900m (12,800ft) above the sea level. It lies in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan near the Kyrgyz and Chinese borders. It’s the highest lake in the world excluding those in Tibet and even Titicaca lake – the biggest alpine lake in the world is located on lower altitudes. Karakul lake is a gorgeous blue water lake that stands on the Pamir Highway (road M41). The lake is located in the Tajik National Park where the road is mainly unpaved. It is massively damaged in places by erosion, earthquakes, landslides, and avalanches and was built partly in the 19th century partly in the 1930s.

Extreme Climate

Karakul lake surroundings are one of the driest spots in Central Asia. The area is circled by high mountains that block humid air masses.  The change of temperatures is a common occurrence for desserts and in Karakul lake, they are just ridiculous. 


Page last updated 11.10.2020

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