This unusual salt lake, which is located near the city Osoyoos in the Canadian province of British Columbia, is known not only for its unique beauty, but also curative properties. It is believed to be the most mineralized lake on the planet with 365 ‘circles’ – one for each day of the year – in a myriad of shapes, sizes and depths. It is an extraordinary natural phenomenon.
It is called Kliluk (which means “lake of wellness) by the Okanagan, one of the aboriginal peoples in Canada collectively called the First Nations. For them, it is a sacred medicine lake and their people have been coming to the lake in search of cures for various ailments for centuries. There are hundreds of ceremonial cairns surrounding the lake, many of which are so old that they have been buried by time.
The therapeutic quality of the waters has been known for millennia – the Native Indians used the mud and waters of the lake to heal aches and ailments. According to a story, once two warring tribes signed a truce where both parties were allowed to tend to their wounded in the Spotted Lake.
The Spotted Lake has a very highly concentration of numerous different minerals such as magnesium sulphate, calcium and sodium sulphates. It also contains extremely high concentrations of eight other minerals as well as some small doses of four others such as silver and titanium.
As the heat of the summer rises, most of the water in the lake evaporates which leaves behind large mineral deposits, easily visible with the naked eye – the spots for which the lake is so famous. They appear different in colour because of their various mineral compositions. They are mainly made of magnesium sulphate – popularly known as Epsom salts – which crystallize in the summer. It is said that the lake has the highest natural concentration of this mineral in the world.
During the driest periods of the year the lake is without any liquid at all. The area around the spots could be walked through – although this is strictly forbidden. Yet what little there may be is sometimes tasted by the local wildlife. It is doubtful whether this bear’s thirst was satisfied by these waters, however.
Even in the depths of winter you can just about make out, through the snow, the dimples which form the circles.
This dotted or freckled lake today is in the private property of natives, who had bought it with the intention to preserve it from the exploitation, so the tourists can admire its beauties only from a distance, from the nearby highway.
As the site is both culturally and ecologically sensitive the lake and its environs are protected. At the moment the lake is fenced but it is hoped that there will eventually be an information kiosk and a fully developed lookout point from which interested tourists can view the lake without interfering with its delicate natural balance and the historic, sacred cairns of the Okanagan which are beyond valuation.