In ages past, our planet was largely covered by massive ice sheets. As the ice receded (and continues to recede in some places), massive lakes were left behind in the carved-out landmasses. In this list, we searched for the largest (and frequently most awe-inspiring) lakes on Earth, all ranked by size according to their surface area. From a mysterious lake hidden below two miles of ice to a lake where you can embark on a 745-mile long adventure trek through bog and rocky shores, this list of the world’s largest lakes brings you some of the most impressive and pristine bodies of water on Earth. From a lake which can grow its surface area by six times in the rainy season to a lake thronged by crocodiles and scorpions, the lakes on this list may also lead you to add some new places to your bucket list. Grab your water wings (or dry suit for the frosty Arctic lakes) and take a dip in this list of the 25 largest and most impressive lakes in the world.
If you enjoyed the world’s largest and most impressive lakes, then you might just be interested to learn about the world’s largest islands. Who knows, they could be good vacation spots.
Featured image: By Eric Molina via Flickr
Reindeer Lake - 2,180 mi²
Starting off our list of the largest lakes in the world is Canada’s Reindeer Lake. Located in western Canada, Reindeer Lake has a stunning coastline with innumerable inlets and bays and multiple islands dotting the lake. Its southern end is home to Deep Bay, the crash landing spot of a meteorite impact from 140 million years ago. Local legends say a monster dwells in the bay and drags animals through the ice in winter.
Lake Turkana - 2,473 mi²
Previously named Lake Rudolf, the Kenyan-Ethiopian Lake Turkana is the world’s largest permanent desert lake. The area along Lake Turkana is important to anthropologists as many hominid (pre- and early-human) fossils have been found in its environs. Beware if you want to explore the lake without a tourist guide – plenty of Nile crocodiles, carpet vipers, and scorpions live in and around the lake and violent storms appear suddenly due to rapidly morphing local weather patterns.
Lake Taymyr - 1,760 mi²
The largest lake in the Arctic Circle, Lake Taymyr is located in northern Russia. Though covered in ice for nine months of the year, the lake supports many diverse Arctic fish such as the sig and loach. Nearby nuclear testing – including the 1961 test of Tsar Bomba, the largest and strongest nuclear device ever detonated, on the Novaya Zemiya archipelago – has led to minor lake contamination as plutonium particles were carried over by winds from the archipelago. Lake Taymyr’s Central Island is an active volcano which occasionally emits steam clouds.
Lake Athabasca - 3,030 mi²
Lake Athabasca, located in central Canada, is home to the Lake Athabasca Sand Dunes: the largest active dunes on Earth north of 58°. Beyond this title, the lake also produced the world record lake trout weighing in at 102 pounds (46.3 kg). Heavy uranium and oil mining near the lake have led to serious pollution levels in the lake.
Lake Nicaragua - 3,089 mi²
Lake Nicaragua is the 21st largest lake in the world and one of the coolest. Though it drains to the Caribbean Sea on Nicaragua’s east, the lake is so close to the Pacific Ocean it can be seen from one of its two lake island-mountains. Before the Panama Canal was built, Cornelius Vanderbilt (famous U.S. railroad magnate) worked on securing the area as an alternative interoceanic canal. The idea has been revisited and the Nicaraguan government is in talks with builders though it’s unknown what stage of the process this potential Nicaragua Canal is at.