The name of the lake in Tajikistan comes from the name "Iskander" (meaning "Alexander") and the word "kul" (translated as "lake"). Some legends say that the reservoir got its name since the Great Alexander visited it during a campaign to India from Central Asia.
The lake, located in the amazingly beautiful Fan Mountains, has a rather rich and long history. It is believed that it was named in honor of the commander the Great Alexander, whom the locals called Iskander Zulqarnain, which means "Iskander the two-horned" (because of the unusual helmet that resembled horns).
And after Iskander Zulkarnain visited here, due to the obvious consonance, the name was changed to Iskanderkul.
The lake located in the northern part of the country, in the Sugd region. The distance from the capital of Tajikistan is more than 180 kilometers along a high-altitude and quite decent highway. Along the way, you can see fascinating natural landscapes with snow-capped mountain tops rushing into the deep blue of the sky. This small piece of untouched land can show a lot of interesting things, including Lake Iskanderkul. There are magnificent blue lakes, fast mountain rivers and picturesque forests.
Iskanderkul, considered the heart of the Fan Mountains, is surrounded by several peaks- five thousand meters – Bodhona, Chapdara, Maria, Mirali, Zindon. The highest is Chimtarga (5,487 meters).
Lake Iskanderkul resembles a triangle in shape. Its area is 3.5 square kilometers. The water depth is 70 meters. The mirror surface of the reservoir surrounded by mountains looks great. The uniqueness of the lake lies in the fact that it is the largest in the mountains and is located at an altitude of more than 2000 meters. The volume of the lake's water is 172 million cubic meters. The length of the coastline is 14 thousand meters.
Nearest of the Lake Iskanderkul there is an old juniper (juniper bush), the branches of which are decorated with colorful ribbons. Everyone who comes to admire the local amazing waterfall leaves something of their own on this tree to return here again in the future.
The nearby 43-meter waterfall is called "Fan Niagara". It is located on the river flowing out of the lake. There is also a rock with an inscription dating back to 1870, it was left by the participants of the expedition led by the famous Russian traveler and scientist A. Fedchenko.
Not far from Iskanderkul there is another lake called Snake Lake. According to the stories of old-timers, many snakes live in it. Locals claim that reptiles will not bite in two cases: when they are in the water and when people drink water. The water in it is warmer than in Iskanderkul, so it is quite possible to swim here.
There are quite remarkable mountain peaks in the vicinity of the lake. For example, according to one mountain, it is popularly called "Rain Gauge", residents determine the weather. If the peak is hidden in a cloud, it is likely to start raining. There is another version that it is so named by the locals, because there is a device on it to measure the amount of precipitation.
There is another peak here – Chil-shaitan. Its name translates from Tajik as "40 devils". According to the stories of the old men, shepherds and hunters met devils there. That's where the name came from. Therefore, people are still afraid to go up there, but tourists are not afraid of anything, because there is something to see there.
Lake Iskanderkul is called a pearl in the palms of the mountains, a living legend. A lot of tourists come to this mountain reservoir. There are guest houses for their stay here, but foreign visitors prefer to rest in tents. Swedes, Englishmen, Frenchmen and Tajiks themselves come here. Moreover, they all rest in different ways. Some travel on foot, others on motorcycles, and others on rare cars.
People are attracted here by the mystery of the lake, the secrets and legends associated with it. For example, there is one beautiful legend saying that Rustam's horse from the poem "Shahname" (Firdousi) is grazing at the bottom of the reservoir – the fiery Rakhsh.
According to legend, the Great Alexander stumbled upon a settlement of Sogdians who resisted his army. The commander was very angry and gave the order to dam the river, on the bank of which residential buildings were located. That's how the lake appeared on the site of that settlement.
According to another legend, the Macedonian horse, Bucephalus, drank water from the lake during a halt after a long march and fell ill. The commander himself went further to India, leaving his faithful horse here. However, even at such a great distance, he felt the death of his master and threw himself into the lake, remaining in it forever. Since then, during the full moon, every month Bucephalus comes out of the water to graze: the waters part, and a snow-white horse comes to the surface of the lake, accompanied by grooms.
09:00 - departure to Iskandarkul lake, Ayni district
About 3-4 hours we will drive through the Varzob valley and Hisar mountains in line with the Varzob aggressive river
13:00 - arriving Iskandarkul Lake and lunch at the Iskandarkul Beach
14:00 - visit Panjchashma and Busefal canyon
BUCEPHALUS CAVE - according to another legend, the Macedonian horse, Bucephalus, drank water from the lake during a halt after a long march and fell ill. The commander himself went further to India, leaving his faithful horse here. However, even at such a great distance, he felt the death of his master and threw himself into the lake, remaining in it forever. Since then, during the full moon, every month Bucephalus comes out of the water to graze: the waters part, and a snow-white horse comes to the surface of the lake, accompanied by grooms.
PANJ-CHASHMA - a place called "Five Springs" for an unusual natural phenomenon, where pure spring water flows from five highlands into Lake Iskandarkul. The sight is so mesmerizing that it is impossible to take your eyes off.
15:00 - hiking to the Lake Moron and Iskandarkul Waterfall
SNAKE LAKE. Not far from Iskanderkul there is another lake called Snake Lake. According to the stories of old-timers, many snakes live in it. Locals claim that reptiles will not bite in two cases: when they are in the water and when people drink water. The water in it is warmer than in Iskanderkul, so it is quite possible to swim here.
17:00 - end of tour, leave Iskandarkul, way back to Dushanbe
20:00 - arriving Dushanbe