The lake is named after Alexander the Great – Iskander is Alexander in Persian and Kul means lake in Tajik. Iskanderkul is a massive mountain lake, lies at an altitude of 2,195-metres on the Northern slopes of the Gissar Range in the Fann Mountains. There are several legends saying the lake’s existence is related to Alexander the Great, but the reality is that Iskanderkul’s existence is owed to an earthquake. A landslide, triggered by an earthquake, dammed the Sarytag River long ago and allowed the valley to fill with water. This triangular scenic lake is claimed to be one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the former Soviet Union.
Getting to Iskanderkul
Iskanderkul is a great day-trip out of Dushanbe. From Green Hostel, our host helped us arranged for a return-trip for 900 TJS (US$90) per car. It helps to ask other travellers to go along to share the cost. The trip is a 3-hours per way journey, and the driver will give you 3-hours to wander around before heading back to Dushanbe.
As we were driving out of the city, we started to see the beginnings of the flowing river through the rocky mountains and the turquoise color was out of this world. Just as we wanted to stop for a picture, one of the car’s tires punctured. We were not complaining about it at all.
What to do in Iskanderkul?
We were there on a weekday and off-trekking season, so we had the whole lake by ourselves! If you’re coming here as day-trip, bring a basket of food to picnic by the shore and just enjoy the tranquility.
Relax by the shore
Don’t expect it to be a white-sand beach; part of Iskanderkul’s shore is covered in pebbles, does make it look like a little beach. It is still a nice place to chill, soak under the sun, or simply enjoy the reflection of the surrounding mountains in the lake.
Not a fan of the sun? There is a sheltered swing along the shore perfect to read a book with a gorgeous view.
I’m pretty sure this is the least instagrammable place despite its jaw-dropping beauty.
The water of the lake surely looks very inviting for a dip but there are signs that say it’s forbidden. Just be aware that Iskanderkul is a mountain lake so even in mid-summer, the water temperature doesn’t rise above 10°C!
Take A Boat Out On The Lake
There is an old chalet-style accommodation near the shore of the lake called Turbaza where you can rent a boat for 250 TJS (US$25) to go for a trip around the lake and get a peak on the President’s holiday home. Due to the high concentration of minerals, there is almost no aquatic life in the lake so don’t bother to bring your fishing gear.
Hike around Iskanderkul
You can do some hikes if you’re planning to camp at Iskanderkul, or negotiate with your driver to stay longer. There are snake lake, Iskanderkul waterfall, President’s Dacha trail and more.
If you’re short on time, and/or can’t go on a multiple-day trek in the Fann Mountains, a visit to Iskanderkul is the perfect solution.
Lastly, if you want to keep a track of all my photos and travels, remember to follow @wanderrsaurus on Instagram!