The Ukrainian Carpathians are a protected area of untouched nature, with primordial mountains and emerald forests, flowering valleys and singing waterfalls. There are also many lakes, harmoniously blended into the picturesque mountain landscape, attracting travellers with their tranquil, approachable and unique beauty.
Here are 10 of the best Carpathian lakes; magnetic, shrouded in legends, sometimes dangerous, but incredibly attractive, nonetheless.
If you plan to visit Ukraine and like hiking, lakes and waterfalls, you may be interested in a holiday tour Around the Carpathians in 7 days.
The legendary Sea-Eye, the largest lake of the Ukrainian Carpathians and the decoration of impregnable Gorgany, is located in Mizhhirya district in Transcarpathia. This majestic natural monument, born by a powerful landslide in the mountains 10,000 years ago, is based at an altitude of about 1000m above sea level, with a depth of 20m. The clear water of Synevyr reflects the ancient history of the Carpathians, the forest’s silence and the sky’s eternal azure.
A romantic folk legend ties the emergence of the lake to the love story of a girl from a wealthy family, called Syn, and an ordinary shepherd, Vyr. Fate cruelly separated the lovers, as Vyr was viciously murdered at the behest of Syn’s father, and the girl’s desperate tears formed the deep Synevyr. Only an island, the place of the tragedy, remained above the water in the middle of the lake.
The story has inspired modern Ukrainian sculptors to create a stunning sculptural composition of the lovers’ figures frozen over the calm water. They say that a romantic acquaintance on the bank of the lake is sure to end with a wedding, and a visit to the lake during the wedding promises a happy marriage.
You can see this yourself and enjoy the incredible Synevyr landscapes on our tours to Transcarpathia, including:
- Lake Synevyr and the waterfall Shypit (1 day);
- Cheese and wine tour in Transcarpathia (2 days / 1 night);
- 10 highlights of Transcarpathia (3 days / 2 nights);
- Around the Carpathians in 7 days (7 days / 6 nights)
And in other trips to Transcarpathia.
Mertve (Zhuravlyne) Lake
Mystic Mertve Lake is one of the most iconic places in the National Natural Park of Skolivski Beskydy, located near the village of Kamianka in the Skole district, Lviv region. The dark water of the lake, covered with a carpet of branches, hides the real depth of the reservoir. Furthermore, moss grows on its surface, thus, it looks more like a swamp. The other name of the lake is Zhuravlyne because marsh cranberries (“zhuravlyna” in Ukrainian), grow here.
Mertve Lake carries a dark past, sadly known, for many years, as it was difficult to get out alive through its impassable swamps. However, the eerily silent black lake, surrounded by forest and moss carpet, fascinates with its fabulous mystique and dramatic beauty.
You can visit the lake during the tour The Carpathians in 1 day (1 day).
Lake Lebedyn (“Swan” Lake)
Among the six mountain lakes in Hutsulshchyna National Park, Lake Lebedyn is particularly beautiful and romantic. The lake hides in the tract on the southern slopes of the peak with the same name as the Pokuttia-Bukovyna Carpathians in Kosiv district. The reservoir is 650m above sea level, the area does not exceed a hectare, and the depth, according to the researchers’ assumptions, reaches 28m. Beech forest, meadows and swamps make up the natural landscape of the area around the lake, and on the lakeside area grows a lot of rare plants, including spring primrose, fern and Beech Phegopteris.
The lake proves its romantic name, from mouth to mouth they tell the ancient legends of Lebedyn, one sadder than the other. The most common goes back to the time of the Tatar invasion, which, like a ruthless whirlwind, flew to the local land. The enemies captured a beautiful daughter of a locat that moment, the heroine of the legend turned into a white swan, leaving her desperate father petrified on the lakeshore.
A no less tragic tale tells of a couple, from different social backgrounds, who fall in love. Without obtaining parents’ consent to the wedding, the young lovers found their last shelter in a mountain lake, where they became a couple of loving swans.
Khashchovanske Lake (Nova Khashchovania)
Khashchovanske Lake is near the village of Khashchovane, in Skole district, Lviv region. The lake, 130x40m, with a depth of 5m, is protected from the mountain winds by picturesque hills covered in lush vegetation.
The shallow lake warms up enough in the summer to attract holiday-makers of the surrounding recreation centres. Clean mountain air, filled with aromas of mountain herbs, playful sun rays on the water’s surface and magnificent scenery of the Carpathian mountains makes Khashchovanske Lake ideal for a carefree holiday in the wild.
Mountain lakes of Ukraine
In the Carpathians there are more than 30 mountain lakes at an altitude of between 1,500 and 1,800m, of glacial origin and with extremely low temperatures. In Verkhovyna, in the mountain range of Chornohora, at the altitude of 1,510m above sea level, there is one of those crystal cold lakes, with the poetic name, Maricheika.
The crystal-clear freshwater lake takes its water from underground sources, springs and atmospheric waters, yet the depth of the lake does not exceed 1m. The area of it is 1 hectare, and there are mountain pines (creeping pine) and junipers around the lake shores.
The legend of the lake is reflected in its name and tells the story of long-gone times. Like Synevyr, according to folklore, it was formed from a man’s tears. The lake glorifies the selfless feat of Maricheika, a young wife of shepherd Ivan. She brought enemies to impassable thickets and lost her life. Her husband’s inconsolable tears formed a lake.
The legend has another ending: nature itself avenged the wife with a natural disaster, burying the enemies at the bottom of a mountain lake. They say that if you see the turquoise decoration of the North-Eastern slope of mount Shuryn at dawn, you will experience pure joy.
The highest mountain lake in the Carpathians (1,800 meters above sea level) is in a basin of fantastic beauty, surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Chornohora ridge, Brebeneskul and Hutyn Tomnatyk. The lake stretches for 134 meters and has a capricious nature; natural disasters are frequent here. The temperature of the 3m-deep crystal clear lake, even in the summer, does not exceed 13°C. However, this does not stop the daredevils from swimming. The best time for these radical procedures is in the morning when the sun is still silvering the water surface.
The unusual name of the lake is translated from Romanian as vinca, reflecting the bright colour of the Carpathian pearl. In combination with the magnificent scenery of the mountains lost in the clouds, the vivid colours of the surrounding coniferous forests, the blue celestial depth, Brebeneskul resembles a clean tear of the planet. Brebeneskul was born by a giant glacial block, which minted an enormous bowl (сirque) under the Chornohora ridge and left on its bottom the memory of itself in the form of a cold lake. A lot of tourists come to the shores of the lake for an unforgettable experience of natural beauty.
Even more formidable and unpredictable is the glacial lake, Nesamovyte. Here, at the foot of the Turkul mountain in the Chornohora ridge, among the giant rocks, severe mountain winds and heavy clouds are ready to spill heavy rain with hail, thunder and lightning at any time. The lake ellipse extends for almost 90m. Its depth is 1.5 meters, and subalpine vegetation covers the banks.
Folk legends tell eerie and mysterious stories about the lake born by wild nature. One of them tells of a young girl who drowned in the lake; those who disturb her will receive her vengeance in the form of bad weather. It is also rumoured that at the bottom of the lake, souls of the sinners, the murderers, gather, whose peace is guarded by a severe rider on the white horse. Meanwhile, hail, which can cover an imprudent tourist, is nothing but the ice from the rocks under the hooves of the horse, which treacherous sinners pour out from the heavens.
According to a legend, if you throw a stone into the water, a cloud with lightning will immediately appear and disturb the souls of suicides, who are waiting for a traveller to twist in a frantic dance until the sounds of trembita (a traditional alpine horn made of wood, popular among Ukrainian Hutsals) stop their cries.
But, surprisingly, there is an optimistic belief associated with the most mysterious lake of the Carpathians. For those who will wash in the water of the miraculous lake, fate will present a romantic encounter. They also say that the loudest trembitas are made from trees soaked in the lake’s waters .
From Apshynets range, you can enjoy the magnificent scenery of the rectangular natural creation. The Glacial high-mountain lake, Heryshaska (another name Dohiaska), lurks on the slope of Dohiaska mountain, 1,500m above sea level, surrounded by the peaks of Svydovets nature reserve.
The area of the lake is 1.2 hectares. Although the lake is shallow (a little more than 1m deep), the water temperature is never above 11°C, even in summer. The way to the lake is hard with steep descents to the water from the ridge trail, but brave tourists will be able to marvel at the charming landscape of the lake surrounded by the thickets of sedge, green meadows and mountain peaks.
Here you will feel at one with nature, with nothing to show of modern life. Nearby, there is another Carpathian miracle, a beautiful cascading waterfall, Drahobrat.
You can see mountain lake Heryshaska on our tour:
- Maniava, Drahobrat, Pertsi meadow, (2 days / 1 night).
Another alpine pearl of the Svydovets range is Lake Vorozheska (also called Tryton), the shape of which justifies its unusual name. Located at an altitude of 1,460m above sea level, the glacial lake is divided into two reservoirs connected by a thin stream. The bigger lake, with a diameter of 95m and a depth of 5m, has a smooth round shape, whilst the crescent of the smaller pool extends to 76m and is much shallower, up to 2m. The lake is famous for its very clear, cool water. Around it, you can find the thickets of juniper and blueberry.
Lake Vorozheska is shrouded in legends, full of fatalism. Here is the story of two brothers who were in love with the same girl and wanted to prove their strength and superiority over each other, so they swam across the lake. A terrible storm dragged the brothers under the water, and since then their poor mother was coming to the lake and asking why it was so hostile.
And they also tell about two fellow shepherds, who also died in the mountains during bad weather, and two connected lakes emerged at the place of their death.
You can see mountain lake Vorozheska on our tour:
- Maniava, Drahobrat, Pertsi meadow (2 days/1 night).
We end our hike to Svydovets at the lovely high-mountain lake, Apshynets (also called Troiaska). The lake is near the Troiaska peak, at an altitude of about 1,500m above sea level; like many high-mountain lakes, it lies at the bottom of the glacial cirque and has a shallow depth of about 3m. The area of the reservoir is 1.2 hectares and it takes its water from precipitation and a small stream.
An eponymous river takes its beginning from the lake which is rich in crustaceans. The water warms up to 12°C in summer and freezes in winter. Surrounded by plant diversity, a real benchmark of the Carpathian lake wealth symbolizes the ancestral and inconceivable greatness of nature, reflecting in its waters leisurely pace of white clouds in the sky and the silent grandeur of the mountains.
Hiking in Ukraine, participating in tours to the land of mountain lakes, fantastic landscapes and romantic legends are exciting adventures, vivid impressions and a heady feeling of liberation from the shackles of civilization. Welcome to the magic Carpathians with Vidvidai tour agency!