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Yashilkul and Bulunkul

Yashilkul and Bulunkul.

If you drive along the Pamir highway, somewhere between the Koytezek pass (4,271m) and Alichur.  There is a signposted turn-off from the main road which leads to the Bulunkul  and Yashilkul freshwater lakes. The turn to Yashilkul is located at the 145th kilometer marker from Murghob. From the main road, the turnoff to Bulunkul is about 18km. Yashilkul means “green lake”. It is situated 3,700m above sea level and is 19km long and 1-4km wide, with a maximum depth of 50m.

The water temperature is never above 14ºC. The water is fresh and pure; schools of fish swim in the shallow water, and sprouts of seaweed can be seen between stones through the clear deep water. In the wilderness of the Pamir mountains, such places as Yashilkul Lake are very rare. The lake was formed as the result of a dam that blocked the Alichur River. Dam is more than 4km, width is 100–110m. The water flows over the southern edge of the dam. The Ghunt River starts here and 200km later arrives at the Panj River. There is an old path on the dam near which geologists found a granite block with inscriptions in Arabic, which indicated who had laid the path many centuries ago. The Alichur estuary area is swampy, with a lot of sedge.

The shallowest eastern part of Yashilkul is located here. A green spot marks the place where the river feeds into the lake. Near the Alichur estuary there is a hot hydrogen sulphide spring named Issyk-bulak. The water wells up from four geysers located along the foot of the granite mountain, with temperatures reaching 71ºC. The spring is surrounded by ruins of clay buildings (probably tombs). One small clay construction has a pool for collecting hot spring water.

A hydro system is being constructed at Yashilkul. Which will help to regulate the flow of water for electricity-production needs. Bulunkul Lake is much smaller than Yashilkul and is connected to it by  narrow channel. The water in Bulunkul is fresh. Water plants grow here, and one can see ducks and geese swimming on the smooth surface of the water, and gulls gliding overhead. . Bulunkul Lake region is also known as having Central Asia’s lowest recorded temperature of -63ºC. The best period for visiting the lakes is May – September.