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We invite participants to bring along any small craft and take part in this sailing and community event held in September every year. Kite-surfing, sailing, rowing, kayaking craft are all welcome, becoming part of a world altitude record for your sport.
Karakul ("Black Lake") is a 52 km (32 mi) diameter lake in the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan. It lies within the Tajik National Park. The lake lies at an altitude of 3,914m (12,800 ft) above mean sea level. A peninsula projecting from the south shore and an island off the north shore divide the lake into two basins: a smaller, relatively shallow eastern one, between 13 to 19 m (43 to 62 ft) deep, and a larger western one, 221 to 230 m (725 to 750 ft) deep. It is endorheic (lacking a drainage outlet) and the water is brackish. There is a small village with the same name as the lake.
Karakul lies within a circular depression interpreted as a meteorite impact crater with a rim diameter of 52 km (32 mi). The impact event is estimated to have occurred about 25 million years ago. The Karakul impact structure remained unidentified until it was discovered through studies of imagery taken from space.
The old Saka/Pamiri name for the lake – the Zira – has become obsolete and the Kyrgyz name Karakul is now used universally for the lake.
1/ Lake Karakul is almost 4000m altitude. Please allow sufficient time to acclimatize at lower altitudes before arriving at the lake.
2/ Karakul village is remote and undeveloped and provides a home for approximately 1000 local herders and their families. Please expect only the most basic of facilities and services.
3/ The seasons in the Eastern Pamir are notoriously fickle. Temperatures can range from +30C to -10C in the summer months and snow could appear at any time. Reasonable wind conditions in September can be expected but storms can also occur quickly and without notice.
4/ The promoters of this event accept no responsibility for the safety of participants or anyone else subsequently following them to sail on the lake. We recommend the attendance of a rescue boat for any sailing on the lake.
Approaches (Tajik visa and GBAP permits required for either route):
1/ From Dushanbe - approximately 1000Km journey on dirt roads through high mountain passes and steep sided valleys. Dushanbe to Khorog takes approximately 2 days and at that point you should acclimatize before travelling for a further day to Murghab. Karakul is then a 0.5 day journey, negotiating the Ak-Baitel pass at 4650m.
2/ From Osh, Kyrgyzstan the route is only approximately 500Km. The road from Osh to Sary Tash is good and only takes ~4 hours. In the vicinity of Sary Tash you should acclimatize for ~2 days before stepping up onto the Eastern Pamir plateau on dirt tracks, arriving at the Tajik border on Kizil-Art pass (4350m). Karakul village is then 1.5 hours away. Note: please do take our advice and acclimatize before entering Tajikistan - if you have to go back down to Kyrgyzstan then there is no return without another visa and permit.