Lakes Alakol and Sasykkol in the Dzhungarian Gate, Kazakhstan – September 27th, 200946.1N 81.7E
Lake Alakol, meaning “mottled lake” in Turkic, is a lake located at an altitude of 347 m in the Almaty and Shyghyz provinces of east central Kazakhstan, east of Lake Balqash. Here, green and tan sediments give it the mottled coloring for which it is named.
The lake is the northwest extension of the region known as the Dzhungarian Gate (Alataw Pass), a narrow valley connecting the southern uplands of Kazakhstan with arid northwest China.
The Dzhungarian Gate is a fault-bounded valley, appearing here as a vertical line along the south side of the lake, where the elevation of the valley floor is between 350-450 m above sea level while the peaks of the Dzhungarsky Alatau range (bottom) reach 4,463 m above sea level.
Lake Alakol, a salt lake, has a drainage basin of 65,200 km² and receives water periodically from the southerly draining Urdzhar River. The surface area of the lake is 2,650 km², its maximum depth 54 m, and its volume 58.6 km³.
A swampy, lowland connects the northwest end of Lake Alakol with the lighter-colored Lake Sasykkol (left of center). The Alakol State Sanctuary has been created to protect the area, for the lake is an important breeding and nesting ground for various wetland birds, notably the very rare Relict Gull.