Zorkul Lake stretches from east to west for about 20 km and is located 4120 meters above sea level on the Afghan-Tajik border. Part of the waters have their source in the Vakhan chain located to the south and its Concordia peak (5,470 m), about 11 km (as the crow flies) south of the lake. The northern half of the lake is in Tajikistan, at the foot of the Alichur-South Range. where it is protected as part of the Zorkul Nature Reserve. From the lake, to the west, flows the Pamir River, tracing the Afghan-Tajik border. It is therefore a source of the Amu Darya or the Oxus river. The Great Pamir extends to the south of the lake.
The climate of the highly desert reserve is ultracontinental with extremely strong and significant daily and annual temperature fluctuations. Winter in this region is very harsh and long. The absolute minimum is -47 degrees celsius. Summer is short and cool and the average temperature in July rises to 14 degrees Celsius.
The lake is on the way to the Silk Road. It was called "Great Dragon Pool" in Chinese historical records.
The lake was once in the territory of the mir of Wakhan, but the lake and the river were established as the border between Russia and Afghanistan by an agreement between the Russians and the British in 1895.
Although there is a probable reference to the lake in Marco Polo's account, the first known European to have visited the lake was the British naval officer John Wood in 1838. Sir-i-kol became known to the British as the name of Lake Victoria.
The vegetation cover of the reserve is very poor. Woody vegetation is completely absent. Mountains of the reserve represented mainly by cushion-shaped vegetation, representing the type of high mountain vegetation. The builders of these communities were related to the representatives of different forms of life. Cushion-shaped vegetation usually represented by akantolimons and oxytropis, which are always combined with other various forms of high mountain plants such as wormwood, feather grass and others. In humid territories, cushion vegetation associated with sedges, fowl grass and other cold-resistant plants. Along streams and rivers, near the shores of lakes and snowfields, there are sedges and grain meadows called pamir sazy (low-grass, waterlogged alpine meadows, widespread only in the high Pamir mountains ). Some species of sedges are usual here (round-headed, black and others).
Zorkul Lake inhabited by osmans and Tibetan loaches, as well as some species of invertebrate animals. Apart from the Indian goose, around Lake Zorkul nest red duck, Himalayan merganser, laughing gull, Tibetan tern and other bird species. Rodents are represented by Pamir and silver voles, big-eared pika, gray hamster, talai hare and red marmots which are very numerous here. Adjacent to the mountainous territory of Lake Zorkul of the Southern Amur mountain ridge inhabited by Pamir Marco Polo argali, Siberian ibexes, snow leopards, wolves and other species of fauna. Among the smaller reserve mammals are usual: ermine, weasel, red fox, Turkestan lynx and Tian Shan brown bear. The typical birds of prey of the reserve are: the bearded eagle, the golden eagle and the kumai.