Majestic Kolsai Lakes

Kolsai is a system of lakes located 300 km South East of Almaty, on Kungei Alatau mountain ridge which is Northern part of Tien Shan. Lower Kolsai Lake also known as Nizhneye at altitude 1800 meters, Mynzholkiat 2500 meters and Upper Kolsai lake also known as Verkhneye at 2850 are the most prominent lakes of Kolsai and major touristic spot.

Kolsai
Summer view. © Stupin

High in the mountains, hidden between tall pines there is picturesque place Kolsai, or as many refer to it "The Pearl of Northern Tien Shan. It is a place of unique eco system, unspoiled nature and rich wildlife which has become a must visit destination in Kazakhstan. Inhabitants of this natural zone are bears, wolfs, lynxes, hares, snow leopards, goats and many others. Best time to visit May to September.
One will be pleasantly surprised with this place since Kazakhstan may seem to be a country of steppes and semi-deserts, which is a wrong assumption. The main sight of Kolsai is 3 lakes of different size and shape, located at different altitude. First and the most visited one is the lake Nizhneye, which is 1 km long 400 m wide and is the deepest of three(80 meters). 5 km higher at 2500 m lies second, the most picturesque lake Mynzhylgy (meaning 1000 years old in Kazakh). Top Kolsai Lake Verkhneye is 4 km further and 600 metres higher than the middle lake and is the less visited one of three. 6 km further of Verkhneye, there is a border with Kyrgyzstan. Each of the lakes has its own unique charm. Each in its own way beautiful.

 

Kolsai

                                       Lakeside camping. © Terekhov

 

The trip from Almaty to Kolsai takes approximately 5 hours on a car and lies through Kulzhinskii Trakt, same road that goes to Charyn Canyon and Chundzha hot springs.  On the shores of the lakes, there are small guest houses, which are always ready to accept those, who wish to have a rest near the Lower Lake. For independent travelers, there is an option of ecotourism homestay with locals available in Saty, which is the closest village to Kolsai. Vicinities of Kolsay Lakes are very good for camping, trekking, horse riding and mountain bicycles. Make sure to take comfortable non-slippery shoes for mountain travel, comfortable outfits and something warm to wear since temperature in Kolsai is much lower than in Almaty. And of course don't forget camera, although photos will never convey all the beauty of magical Kolsai!

Kolsai
Majestic Kolsai Lake. © Terekhov

 

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