It is assumed that Lake Balkhash was discovered even before our era by the Chinese, who maintained close ties with the tribes of Central Asia. This people gave him the unusual name “C-Hai”, which translates as “Western Sea”. For the centuries-old history of its existence, the reservoir was renamed by the Turks more than once: first into Ak-Dengiz, and then into Kukcha-Dengiz. The Kazakhs limited themselves to a simpler name – “Tengiz” (sea). The first major expeditions to these places began in the mid-18th century.
Where is the lake Balkhash
The places of interest are east of Kazakhstan, 400 km from Karaganda. It occupies 3 regions of the country at once – Karagadi, Almaty and Zhambyl. The reservoir is surrounded by two large sand massifs. On the south side it is surrounded by low Chu-Ili mountains, and in the west there is a picturesque steppe with small elevations. On the shore there are several cities and towns – Balkhash, Priozersk, Lepsy, Chubar-Tubek. The necessary coordinates: latitude – 46 ° 32’27 “with. w., longitude – 74 ° 52’44 “v. d.
To get to the place is most convenient from Karaganda and Astana. From these cities go buses and trains to the station. Balkhash. Travel time is about 9 hours. By car, it’s impossible to get to the coast, parking by the water is prohibited.
Description of the sights
The word “Balkhash” is translated into Russian as “bumps in a swamp.” The lake has a natural origin, it appeared as a result of uneven subsidence of the Turan plate and flooding of the formed depressions supposedly in the second period of the Cenozoic era. There are a lot of small islands and two large ones – Basaral and Tasaral. Referring Lake Balkhash to waste or drainless, it is more correct to choose the second option, because it does not have a water outlet.
For the basin, according to scientists, is characterized by an uneven bottom with large elevation differences. In the western part, between Cape Korzhyntubek and Tasaral Island, the greatest depth is 11 m. In the east, this figure rises to 27 m. On one side of the coast there are cliffs 20-30 m in height, and on the other they are relatively uniform, not higher than 2 m Because of this, water often goes beyond the basin. So it was formed many small and large bays.
Balkhash ranks second after the Caspian Sea in the list of perennial salt lakes in the world. It is also the largest in Kazakhstan.
Here are some more characteristics of the reservoir:
- total volume does not exceed 120 km²;
- the area is approximately 16 thousand km²;
- height above sea level – about 300 m;
- the size of Lake Balkhash: length – 600 km, width in the western part – up to 70 km, and in the east – up to 20 km;
- has 43 islands, which over the years become more due to the lowering of the water level in the basin;
- the coastline is very uneven, its length is not less than 2300 km;
- rivers flowing into the lake – Lepsi, Aksu, Karatal, Ayaguz and Ili;
- salinity in the east does not exceed 5.2%, and in the west it is fresh;
- food is provided by groundwater, glaciers, snow and rain.
Lake fauna does not differ much, there are only 20 species of fish. For industrial purposes they catch carp, bream, zander and asp. But with birds more fortunate – these places have chosen about 120 species of birds, some of which are listed in the Red Book. The flora attracting botanists is quite diverse.
What is unique place
It is of interest that the lake consists of two pools, which are radically different due to the water characteristics. Since the isthmus divides them with a width of 4 km, they do not touch each other. Because of this, there are difficulties with determining the type of reservoir, salty or fresh, therefore Lake Balkhash belongs to semi-freshwater. No less interesting is the fact that in two parts the degree of mineralization of water differs sharply.
Geographers and botanists are also surprised by the geographical location of the reservoir, because the continental climate, dry air, low rainfall and lack of runoff did not contribute to its origin.
The climate in this area is typical of deserts; in summer it is very hot, in July the air can warm up to 30 ° C. The water temperature is slightly lower, 20-25 ° C, and generally suitable for swimming. In winter, the time of frost comes, sharp cold snaps to -14 ° C are possible. The water usually freezes already in November, and the ice melts closer to April. Its thickness can reach up to a meter. Due to the small amount of precipitation, droughts are quite common here. There are often strong winds blowing, causing high waves.
An interesting legend about the appearance of the lake
The origin of Lake Balkhash has its secrets. If you believe the ancient legend, then in these places once lived a rich magician Balkhash, who was very willing to marry his beautiful daughter. To this end, he convened from different parts of the best contenders for the heart of a girl. It was supposed to go to a strong, handsome and rich guy. Of course, the sons of the Chinese emperor, the Mongol khan and the Bukhara merchants could not lose such an opportunity. They came to visit with many generous gifts in the hope of good luck. But one young man, a simple shepherd, did not hesitate to come penniless, and, unfortunately, he was the one who liked the bride.
Karatal, that was the name of the young man, took part in the battle and honestly won the battle. But the girl’s father was not happy about it and, being very indignant, he expelled him. The bride’s heart could not stand it, and at night Or left her father’s house with her chosen one. When her father found out about the escape, he cursed both and they became two rivers. Their waters rushed along the slopes of the mountains, and so that they never met, the magician fell between them. From strong excitement, he turned gray and turned into this very lake.
Ecological problems of the reservoir
There is an acute problem of actively reducing the volume of Lake Balkhash due to the increased water intake from the rivers flowing into it, especially from Ili. Its main consumer is the people of China. Environmentalists say that if it goes on like this, the reservoir can repeat the fate of the Aral Sea, which is completely dry. The danger is also a metallurgical plant of the city of Balkhash, emissions of which pollute the lake and cause irreparable damage to it.
Where to stay
Since the reservoir is valued for its recreational opportunities, on its coast there are many places where you can stay with comfort. Here are just a few of them:
- recreation center “Swallow’s Nest” in Torangalyke;
- city dispensary in Balkhash;
- hotel complex “Pegasus”;
- boarding house “Gulf Stream”;
- hotel “Pearl”.
The cost of accommodation in a standard room without treatment and meals is about 2500 rubles per day for two. Cheaper cost of rest on tourist bases. Sanatoriums near Lake Balkhash are chosen when there are health problems.
Entertainment and leisure for guests
Here fishing is very popular, allowed on specialized bases. Among the visitors there are many lovers of hunting pheasant, hare or wild duck. The season usually opens in September and lasts until winter. It is also possible to catch boars with a dog.
In the warm season, people come here mostly for beach holidays and snorkeling to make beautiful photos. Among the attractions available are jet skiing, catamarans and boats. In winter, snowmobiling and skiing are popular. On the territory of hotels and resorts there are:
- table tennis;
- horse rides;
- paintball game;
Near the lake Balkhash there is all the necessary infrastructure – a hospital, pharmacies, shops. Deserted coast was chosen by the “savages” who come here with tents. In general, this is a great place to relax!