Karakuri Lake (Kirgiz: "black lake") is located approximately 200km from Kashgar, Xinjiang province, China, in Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture at the Karakoram Highway to Tashkurgan and Sost, Pakistan. The lake also known as "the father of glaciers", which located at the foot of Mount Maztagata, sitting at 3,600m above sea level, measuring 30m deep, it is the highest lake of the Pamir plateau. And it is covering an area of more than 100,000 square kilometers.
The trip out here from Kashgar takes travelers 200km through treeless sand dunes, past grazing camels and yaks until suddenly this dramatic and spectacular lake appears by the roadside, as if from nowhere. The surface of this huge lake reflects the snow-covered peaks of Mount Muztagata, which towers in the background.
Surrounded by mountains which remain snow-covered throughout the year, the three highest peaks visible from the lake are the Muztagata (7546m), Kongur Tagh (7649m) and Kongur Tiube (7530m). The lake is popular among travellers for its unreal scenery and the clarity of its reflection in the water, whose color ranges from a dark green to azure and light blue. There are two Kirgiz settlements at Karakul lake, a small number of yurts about 1km East from the bus drop-off point, and a village with stone houses located at the Western shores.
The water of Karakuri is green and blue. North and south yellow hills rise from its shore, towards the west a grass plane gently slopes up, through which several small streams wind their way to the lake. Its pastures were full of yak, horses, and camels belonging to the nearby Kirghiz village of Shubash. The gray-brown cubes of Shubash houses are clustered on low mounds at the foot of the southern hills. Southeast and southwest, in a distance, but seemingly close by their enormous height, 4000 m above the lake there are the snow covered peaks of Mount Kongur and Muztag Ata. Five or six glaciers flow down from Kongur as if the mountain were reaching out for the lake, while Muztag Ata--father ice-mountain, as the names translates from Kirghiz--rises behind lower mountains.
The unusual shape of the mountain (it appears to have been divided into two parts) is associated with Chinese legend. The story goes that a beautiful princess living on the Mountain was in love with the snow mountain prince, who lived on nearby Mount Gogir, the second highest mountain in the world. The prince's evil father, who disapproved of this romance, used a stick to divide the two connecting mountains and separate the couple. The poor princess, overcome by grief, wept and wept until her tears turned to glaciers. The mountain now glitters with ice (apparently formed by her tears) and is covered in snow all year round.
There are some great hikes and walks around here, and the area is especially nice in the summer, when the flowers on the trees bloom, the air is fresh and temperatures are pleasant. It can get very cold at this altitude however, so bear in mind that you may need to take extra clothing with you to keep warm. The entire lake can be walked in one long day. You can also spend more time here, staying in the Kazakh Yurts or camping if you have your own tent.
Karakuri Lake is one of the greatest natural sights in Western China, a fact that unfortunately has not remained unnoticed by the Chinese tourism industry. So far, one Chinese resort has been erected where masses of tourists can be witnessed eating at a restaurant, riding a camel or getting a room/yurt for the night. Fortunately, so far this disturbing development is restricted to the hours around lunch time; in the evening and morning the dedicated traveller will still have the lake for him- or herself (together with the Kirgiz locals, of course).
China tours inclusive of visiting Karakuri Lake, Kashgar