Голубом озере

Goluboye Ozero Kabardino - Tserik-Kol'

Useful Information

Location: Babugent.
At highway P291, 35.5 km south of Babugent. From Baksan take E50 east, at Urvan turn right on P291.
(43.232831, 43.538749)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstVauclusian Spring
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=235 m, W=160 m, VR=279 m, T=8-9 °C, A=809 m asl. P=7,000 m³/d.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: И. Динник (): Поездка в Балкарию в 1887–1890 годах (I. Dynnik A trip to Balkaria in 1887-1890)
Address: Goluboye Ozero Kabardino, Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, Russia 361810.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1864 first mentioned in the notes of the Russian officer Fedor Tornu.
1887-1890 described the geographer, zoologist and glaciologist I. Dynnik.
1892-1895 first detailed exploration by the geologist Konstantin Rosikov.
1920s first attempt to survey the depth.
1926–27 studied by Ivan Georgievich Kuznetsov who graduated from the Mining Institute in Petrograd.
1980 expedition from the Geographic Institute.
1982 dive center at the lake founded by Roma Prokhorov, a Moscow student.


Голубое озеро (Goluboye Ozero, Blue Lake) is one of numerous blue lakes in Russia. Like all the others, it is actually a description not a real name, which is the reason why we add the location to the name, just to keep them apart. And like most other blue lakes, the blue colour is karst related. The water contains an high amount of dissolved limestone and sunlight shining on the lake is filtered. All colours except blue are filtered by the water. In other words, the bright blue effect can only be seen when the sun actually shines on the lake. The spring is a resurgence, an opening where the water emerges from a cave deep below, and as the spring is a deep pot and the water full of limestone or gypsum, it gets a unique blue colour, hence the name. In general such lakes are circular or oval, because they are dolines, the result of a cave collapse.

Most people just call it Голубое озеро (Goluboye Ozero), but actually the name of the lake is Нижнее Голубое озеро (Nizhneye Goluboye Ozero, Lower Blue Lake), because it is the lowest of a series of five blue lakes. Another name is церик-Кёль (Tserik-Kol') which is Balkar and means rotten lake or smelling lake. In Kabardian it is called Церек-Ана (Tserek-Ana), which means Cherek's Mother. And there is one more name, which is Псыхурей (Psykhurey, round water).

According to legend the epic hero Bataraz defeated a dragon. The dragon fell and when he hit the ground he made a huge pit. The dragon lies at the bottom and fills the lake with his tears and the unpleasant smell.

The lake is special as the water contains hydrogen sulfide in addition to the limestone. This is the explanation for the "bad smell" name, sulfur gives a smell of rotten eggs. There must be a sulfur bearing rock somewhere along the course of the groundwater, from which this sulfur originates. A few years ago the lake was surveyed by a modern submarine which used sonar for a 3D model of the pit. This was a project of the Center of Underwater Research of the Russian Geographical Society. Actually only about half of the lake is the pit, the rest is rather shallow. But this pit is an elliptic shaft with vertical walls. The bottom is level and covered by gravel, from which the water springs through the cracks. It is not possible to enter the cave behind.

There are many blue lakes around the world, this one is special, as it is one of the deepest vauclusian springs in the world. 260 meters deep, it is currently the second-deepest karst spring in the world. This is obviously a result of its location at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains in Russia. This mountain range in the sparsely populated southern part of Kabardino-Balkaria offers not only Mount Elbrus (5,642 m asl), the highest mountain in Europe. The mountains also consist of limestone and are karstified. In the nearby Georgian section of the mountain range, the deepest caves on Earth are explored. Here are obviously caves of comparable depth, they are just not known yet, an El Dorado for cavers. And one of these cave systems connecting the mountains with the foothills, obviously reaching deep below the current groundwater table. Recharged by water from the mountains the spring flows at Cherek gorge near Reka Cherek Balkasky river. The spring forms a tributary to the river which is only 220 m long.

The exceptional lake has been noted by travellers since the 19th century. The geographer, zoologist and glaciologist I. Dynnik travelled through Balkaria between 1887 and 1890. He later wrote a book and emphasized the beauty and pristine nature of this unique place. In 1926–27 the lake was studied by Ivan Georgievich Kuznetsov, a native of Nalchi. He had graduated from the Mining Institute in Petrograd in 1919. For his research he was awarded the silver medal of the Russian Geographical Society. In the summer of 1980 the spring was explored by an expedition from the Geographic Institute "V.I. Vakhushti Bagrationi", which belongs to the Georgian Academy of Sciences. The head of the research group was G. Gigineishvili, Doctor of Geography.

This spectacular spring is not the only impressive karst feature in this area, just the most famous, which is probably a result of its location right at the highway. 500 m to the southeast is Озеро Секретное (Ozero Sekretnoye, Secret Lake) in the forest, a small lake with a diameter of 60 m on the bottom of a 370 m long, 150 m wide, and about 177 m deep collapse doline, which qualifies as a tiankeng. This doline is called Leaked Lake by the locals, because according to legend the water once filled the whole doline, but then there was an earthquake and the water leaked to the lower lake. And another 650 m to the southeast lies Нежное Голубое озеро (Nizhnyye Golubyye Ozero, Gentle Blue Lake) with a length of 140 m width of 120 m. It is fortunately located at the road, followed by the Верхнеголубые Озера (Verkhnegolubyye Ozera, Upper Blue Lakes), a group of thre more lakes of the same name. This is obviously a blue lake hotspot, all of them water filled collapse dolines and all connected to the same karst groundwater..