Sunday, May 16, 2010

In Search of Tuz Golu (Salt Lake)

Turkey's second largest lake, the salty Tuz Golu, proved surprisingly hard to find (its south end is at 38°30', and it extends north for 50 miles). A huge white expanse hovered in the distance, but was it water or a salt flat? In May, there is water in Tuz Golu, one of the saltiest lakes in the world at 33% salinity, but it was fast evaporating with the warm temperatures. The lake appeared tantalizingly close, but proved to be a long slog through farm fields and wildflowers to the "shore" with the water itself across the Tuz Golu muck. The lake dries out almost completely in the summer, leaving behind a thick layer of salt that is commercially harvested and supplies 60% of this country's salt. In winter, the lake's deepest point is only 6 feet deep.

Though it is a huge lake, the high salinity limits life, so there were no waterbirds to be found. Land birds abounded though, with storks and harriers flying overhead and many small birds flitting in the fields. A surprised jackrabbit bounded out of the grass by our feet-- when was the last time it had seen a human visitor?

A few small islets reflected the lake waters, reminding us of Mono Lake's two islands.
The day warmed up as we hiked back, and a very friendly dog adopted us at the gas station as we cooled off with an ice cream.

Toz Golu, Turkey's great salt lake of the 38th parallel.

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