The Kolsay Lakes are a three lake system, located between the hills of the North Tien Shan Mountains, about 300 km east of Almaty, Kazakhstan (10 km from the border with Kyrgyzstan). They are also called “The Pearl of the Northern Tien Shan” or in short “Pearls of Tien Shan”.
Their water is sourced from the Kolsay River which originates from glaciers, located in the Kungei Alatau mountain ridges, and falls, in turn, to each of the three lakes: Verkhneye, Mynzholky and Nizhneye.
- Lower Kolsay Lake (Verkhneye). Altitude: 1,818 meters. A Natural mountain reservoirs formed by landslides that block the Kolsay River. The lower lake is about 1 km long, 400 meters wide and 80 meters deep. It can be accessed by road and has guest houses and campsites.
- Middle Kolsay Lake (Mynzholky). Altitude 2,252 meters. Mynzholky means “1000 years old”. Located five kilometers upstream from the lower lake, it is the largest of the three, and reaches a depth of 50 meters. This is considered to be the most beautiful of the three Kolsay Lakes.
- Upper Kolsay Lake (Nizhneye). Altitude: 2,850 meters. Located six kilometers above the middle lake, the upper lake is surrounded by spruce/pine trees and alpine meadows. It is 6 km from the Sara-Buluk and Kyrgyzstan lines.
The Sunken Forest of Lake Kaindy
The Lake Kaindy was formed in 1911, after an earthquake triggered a very large limestone landslide, which formed a natural dam in the canyon covered by spruce/pine trees. Water started flooding the basin and submerge the forest.
Because of the cold temperatures, the trees are naturally frozen and well preserved in the water. Lake temperature is maximum 6ºC in summer!
Tours and Trips to Kolsay and Kaindy Lakes
Kolsay is a marvelous place for picnics, horseback riding and mountain biking. The suitable camping period is from April to the end of September. They are favorite places for mountain tourism. Trekking routes to Lake Kolsay are very easy and suitableeven for amateurs, or ordinary tourists.
We recommend visiting Kolsai and Kaindy Lakes with a combination of visits to other nearby locations. For example by exploring Charyn Canyon and several other locations.
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