A to Z of Destinations
Australia, NZ and South Pacific
A to Z of Experiences
Walking and trekking
Diving and snorkelling
Wildlife and safaris
Meet the locals
Frontier and expedition
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Visiting the Poles
Career breaks and BIG trips
Body and soul
Volunteer and conservation
Australia, East Coast
Everest Base Camp
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railway
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
20th July 2009
Turkmenistan has begun the next stage in its plan to create a vast inland lake in the heart of the country’s Karakum desert.
It is estimated that the ‘Golden Age Lake’, which was commissioned by eccentric former president Saparmurat Niyazov nine years ago, will cost around $4.5bn and could take up to 15 years to fill.
Water drained from cotton fields will be pumped through a 2600-km long network of canals into the desert’s Karashor depression.
Despite Turkmenistan’s location on the famous Silk Road route and its rich history, the number of travellers to the country remains low.
The lake is a lasting legacy of the country’s old authoritarian regime. Under his formal title, ‘Turkmenbashi’, or ‘father of all Turkmen’, Niyazov named the months of the year after himself and family members, and banned opera, ballet, gold teeth and recorded music.
Once filled, the lake will reach a depth of 70 metres, and span 2000km2. It is expected to hold more than 130bn cubic metres of water.
Current President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov praised the project, saying the lake demonstrated Turkmenistan’s “huge efforts” to improve the environment and preserve nature.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on Wednesday, Mr Berdymukhamedov said “these canals will serve as a major source of irrigation to turn the Karakum into a blossoming oasis”.
Despite assurances from Turkmen officials that the lake will improve plant life and attract migratory birds, the plans have been met with criticism.
Environmentalists claim that much of the water will evaporate, and what remains will be contaminated with fertilisers and pesticides.
There is also concern that relations between Turkmenistan and neighbouring Uzbekistan will become strained if water from the Amu Darya river- which separates the countries - is used to fill the lake.
You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!
Turkmenistan travel guide, including map of Turkmenistan, top Turkmenistan travel experiences, and tips for travel in Turkmenistan
Inca Trail travel guide, including map of Peru, top Inca Trail experiences, tips for Inca Trail travel, when to trek the Inca Trail and Inca Trail tips
From dictator-worshipping capital Ashgabat to the desert ruins of Merv, a visit to the central Asian nation of Turkmenistan is a strange and unique experience
An enterprise which aims to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries by building heritage skills has been officially launched
Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking
for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.
Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private
and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking.
Save up to 40% on a Balcony Cabin around Spain & the Canary Islands with Celebrity Cruises
7 night Fly Drive Holiday to San Francisco and the Napa Valley from £1,135pp*
10% OFF at Powertraveller
Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web
exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!
I have read and agree to the Terms &
Where in the world are you? Add
#wanderlustmag to your tweets and share your latest travel adventures with
fellow Wanderlusters on wanderlust.co.uk
Get to know Wanderlust on facebook and bring all your travel-minded friends, too