Kara Kul :
an island at the top of the world.


It was very dangerous to be in Tadjikistan when Kara Kul was formedbecause the island at the top of the world is a meteorite fallen there forty million years ago. Kara Kul is nothing else than a meteoritic crater and the island is the meteorite itself. It is also the highest alpine lake of this importance in the world and the island in it is inevitably the highest interior island of the world. And on is this island there is even a small lake on which there is perhaps an island? And a pond within the island? Like in Branduardi’s songs.

Kara Kul: the black lake. Seen from its banks, it does not appear very black. We see it already a little bit darker from the surounding mountains or from the top of the island but seen from plane or from the space shuttle, it bears well its name: it is jet black. On the photographs of NASA, this blackness is well highlighted if we compare it with the small emerald green lake the island.

Kara Kul is a closed lake. Water escapes from it only by evaporation. That which enters there comes mainly from the snow melt of the majestic mountains surrounding it. This water of very great purity has nevertheless dissolves minerals of the mountains in question. It is what gives it this Vichy Water taste. It can however be drunk just as it is, without any purification. Its temperature seldom exceeds the five degrees. The immediate lake and its surroundings are inhabited by a fauna and of a flora endemic to 80 %. In spite of the roughness of the winter, one can meet Bactrian camels still in the wild state. The leopards of snows become increasingly scarce but a team of UNESCO had the chance to meet some.

Jewel of Xinjiang, Kara Kul deserves highest protection. Fortunately, Tadjikistan takes care for that. The lake and the surrounding area are candidates to the "Biosphere" of UNESCO. On the other hand, it misses stations of purification and tourists start to come there. A famous sanatorium of is installed near the lake, to a few hundred meters of its banks because the air, here, is as pure as the water of the lake.

Around Kara Kul, we find hamlets of an extreme poverty but where hospitality exceeds all that we can meet elsewhere. The foreign visitor always has right to a bread and, compared with our European bread, it is a gift of choice. It is nutritive and delicious. No place is better appropriate for cook a European meal with the means of the board and to share it with the Tajiks. It is difficult to know if we are in Tadjikistan or in China. People say that we are in Xinjiang but nobody really knows where is the border. Moreover, on both sides of the border, one speaks the same dialects closer to Turk than to Chinese.

For two thousand years the caravans have passed on what is now the M41 road and nobody has ever been able to control them. Neither the KGB neither the Chinese police nor any customs officer. In the past, it was the road of silk, of basmati rice and of spices. Now is added to it false clothing of marks as good as true ones, drug, weapons and even plutonium. The only richness of the place is the breeding of the sheep Kara Kul whose quality of wool is assessed in the whole world.

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