Lake Powell, USA
Lake Argyle, Australia
Kielder Water, England
The biggest man-made lake in northern Europe by volume, Kielder Water in Northumberland has a 27-mile (43km) shoreline and is 170 feet (52m) at its deepest point. It’s also surrounded by the largest working forest in England, at over 250 square miles (647sq km), and an important sanctuary for native species. Kielder Water & Forest Park is home to otters and the endangered water vole, which were reintroduced here in 2017. It’s also the site of the largest conservation salmon hatchery in England – young salmon are raised to be released into the River Tyne.
Lac de Sainte-Croix, France
Lusatian Lake District, Germany
Things looked a little different in Lusatia not so long ago. The landscape was pocked with around 120 mining pits and a hive of heavy industry. Now these holes are being flooded as part of a major transformation of the region from industrial eyesore into rural enclave. When it’s complete, the Lusatian Lake District will be Europe’s largest artificial lake district with a chain of lakes, sandy beaches, forests, cycle paths and vineyards. Lake Geierswalder (pictured) is one of them – it’s already a hub for watersports and tourism with its striking “floating homes”.
Derwent Reservoir, England
Ravishing views of the rugged Peak District reward walkers around this vast inland water in Derbyshire. Along with the Howden and the Ladybower, it is one of three reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley which were constructed in the early 20th century. This trio of artificial lakes were used as a practice field for the Lancaster bombers (also known as the Dam Busters) who undertook the historic Second World War raid on German dams. Check out more of the UK’s stunning national parks.
Buško Blato, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lake Jocassee, USA
South Carolina’s Lake Jocassee is another man-made beauty proving natural isn’t always best. This reservoir was created in 1973 and is fed by cool, clear water flowing from Appalachian mountain rivers. The shores are largely undeveloped with tucked-away coves, rocky outcrops and waterfalls. Jocassee literally means ‘Place of the Lost One’ in Cherokee which only adds to the romance of this beautiful spot. The 7,500-acre reservoir plunges to a maximum depth of around 300 feet (91m) and has a smattering of small islets. Take a look at more photos of America’s beautiful lakes.
Lake Sidney Lanier, USA
The state of Georgia is dotted with gorgeous lakes, most of which were created by dams. Lake Sidney Lanier, a large reservoir constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s, is the state’s largest. Just an hour’s drive from Atlanta, it’s also one of the prettiest and a huge fishing and recreational boating hub with waters fed from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Thankfully there’s plenty of space for everyone with 690 miles (1,110km) of shoreline. It’s got campsites, cabins, a resort, 10 marinas, beachside play parks, woodland trails and a water park.
Lake Plastiras, Greece
Lake Mead, USA
Mare aux Vacoas, Mauritius
Most people look to the white sand beaches of Mauritius to get their water fix, but the lush island also has gorgeous inland rivers, waterfalls and lakes. Mare aux Vacoas in the southeast is one of them. The large reservoir was built in 1885 and is a beautiful tranquil spot for a picnic and stroll. There are hiking and horse riding trails around the nearby forest and the Grand Bassin, a stunning natural lake that formed inside the crater of an extinct volcano. These are the world’s jaw-dropping waterfalls.
Lake Bokodi, Hungary
Rutland Water, England
The largest man-made lake in England by surface area, Rutland Water was created in the 1970s. Its most famous landmark is the listed 18th-century Normanton Church, which appears to sit right on the water. The church was saved just before the area was flooded after public pressure. The reservoir is also an important wildfowl sanctuary with over 30 hides. It’s been home to the Rutland Osprey Project for 20 years – spring and summer are the best time to see these rare fish-eating birds swoop into the water. Check out more amazing places saved from destruction here.
Periyar Lake, India
Norfolk Broads, England
You may be surprised to learn that the Norfolk Broads are completely man-made. The discovery was made in the 1950s when research revealed the sides of the deep lakes were vertical and did not slope gently as you would expect from naturally formed rivers. It’s believed the lakes were created by accident in the 9th and 10th centuries when settlers began digging for peat, a natural fuel, and the excavations were flooded. It eventually created a vast network of lakes and rivers that is now one of the UK’s most popular destinations for boating holidays.
Abraham Lake, Canada
Set in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the mighty Abraham Lake was formed in 1972 following the construction of the Bighorn Dam. Although man-made, the water appears the same color as other glacial lakes in the region because of the flow of rock flour – a silt that gives the waters a deep blue shade. In winter, frozen patterns also appear under the surface. These jewel-like bubbles are actually pockets of methane that form when dead leaves and animals sink to the bottom and are consumed by bacteria, which then excrete the gas.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Iceland is packed with natural wonders but one of its most well-known sights, the Blue Lagoon, is actually man-made. In fact, the geothermal spa which is rich in minerals, was formed in 1976 by accident – it’s actually wastewater produced by a nearby power plant. People began bathing in the warm waters in the early 1980s and discovered its benefit for skin conditions. It was officially opened to the public in 1992. The lagoon’s distinct blue waters are caused by its high silica content which reflects the light. Check out more of the world’s colorful places.
Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made reservoir, created by the completion of the Kariba Dam in 1958. Covering an incredible 2,085 square miles (5,400sq km), the waters stretch along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. During its construction, floodwaters covered vast areas of important wildlife habitats and a dramatic rescue operation was launched to save more than 5,000 animals from drowning. Hundreds of dead trees can still be spotted protruding out of the waters. The lake is now a popular birdwatching and safari location, and its waters teem with crocodiles.
Central Park Lake, USA
Up until the 1850s, Central Park in New York City was a mass of untamed swamplands. It was transformed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux who famously redesigned the area to include woodlands, wildlife habitats, lawns, promenades and statues and, at the heart of it all, the stunning main lake. Today, the lake is an urban sanctuary and a popular place for a boat ride, with rowboats or gondolas for hire from the Loeb Boathouse (although it’s currently closed). Egrets, herons, and loons are common sightings around the water. Discover more of Central Park’s secrets here.
Kenyir Lake, Malaysia
Lake Campotosto, Italy
Lake Dunstan, New Zealand
New Zealand’s South Island has many beautiful bodies of water. Most are natural but not Lake Dunstan in the Otago region, which was formed on the Clutha River following the construction of the Clyde Dam in 1993. But it’s none the less stunning. The small historic town of Cromwell sits on the water’s edge – many of its old buildings were moved when the dam was created. Now take a look at the world’s amazing places swallowed by the sea.
Lake Pichola, India
Dreamy Lake Pichola sits alongside the city of Udaipur in Rajasthan. It was created in 1362 so merchants could transport grain and was later enlarged by Maharana Udai Singh, who built his royal palaces and temples on the water’s edge. The luxurious Taj Lake Palace (pictured), set on Jag Island in the heart of the lake, is the most famous sight. It was also one of the locations featured in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy.
Lake Nasser, Egypt
Qiandao Lake, China
Qiandao Lake in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang, also known as Thousand Island Lake, was created in 1959 following the construction of the Xin’an River hydroelectric station and dam. It flooded the area, controversially forcing 290,000 people to relocate their homes and submerging two ancient cities. Island-hopping boat tours are usually popular with visitors and it’s possible to scuba dive to see the water-logged ruins. Take a look at the world’s most jaw-dropping underwater attractions.
Kaolin Lake, Indonesia
Lake Burley Griffin, Australia
The park-lined Lake Burley Griffin lies at the heart of Australia’s capital Canberra both physically and socially. The large and beautiful lake was created in 1963 when the Molonglo River was dammed and was named after Walter Burley Griffin, who designed the city. Many of Canberra’s national institutions lie along its shores and it’s usually a hub of activity year-round – it’s where locals come to sail, paddleboard, canoe and jog. Discover these famous cities that aren’t actually capitals.
Lake Vyrnwy, Wales
With its fairy tale-esque water tower and brooding mountainous surrounds, Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, Wales, is a dreamy spot. It’s hard to believe that the stretch of water isn’t natural, but the lake was created in the late 19th century to provide safe water to the rapidly growing city of Liverpool. The impressive stone dam that stretches across the Vyrnwy river valley was completed in 1889 – it was the first large stone-built dam in Britain. It flooded the old village of Llanwddyn, the remains of which can sometimes be seen when water levels are low. Check out more reasons to love Wales.
Durlassboden Basin, Austria
Surrounded by the Zillertal Alps and the Reichenspitz mountain range, the stunning Durlassboden Basin stretches between the Austrian states of Tyrol and Salzburg. The high-altitude reservoir (4,593ft/1,400m) is usually a hive of activity with hikers and cyclists doing the circuit around the water (there are cozy mountain restaurants to refresh along the way) or venturing further up in to the mountains. The lake is a lovely spot for swimming and watersports too, and lays claim to having the highest sail and surf school in Austria.
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