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1st Kolsay Lake Photo: Jérôme DepeilleKolsay Lakes

The sky-blue Kolasy lakes are located in the Kazakh part of the Kungey Alatau Range of the Central Tien-Shan in the far south-east the country some 250 km from Almaty. There are excellent trekking and hiking option around and between these fascinating mountain lakes.

Kolsay River Photo: Jérôme DepeilleThere are three different lakes at 1,818, 2,252 and 2,700 m. The lakes are considered some of the most beautiful lakes of the Northern Tien-Shan, surrounded by Alpine meadows and flowers.

The surrounding mountains are the Sarydjaz, Katta-Ashutor and Meridian ridges, with the highest point of Kazakhstan - Khan-Tengri peak (7,010 m). In the Meridian ridge lies Kazakhstan's second peak - Marble Wall (6,400 m). Also some of the the biggest glaciers of Central Tien-Shan are concentrated there: Southern Inylchek, Semenova glacier.

Outflow of 2nd Kolsay Lake Photograph Photo: Jérôme DepeilleAbout 3-4 hours from Almaty the first Kolsay lake is accessible by road with any normal vehicle. A small fee is applicable for vehicles and passengers to the local Zakaznik staff. Zhibek Zholy runs a very nice but pricey guesthouse and sauna on the Eastern slopes of the first lake, there are simple huts, guides and horses available from the local staff, but wekends should be avoided.

Riding at 1st Kolsay LakeThe relatively tough hike to the 2nd lake takes about 3-5 hours depending on the weather conditions. Season to visit for hiking is Mid May through October. Lake Kolsay is the starting point for most Kazakhstan-based organised horseback riding across the passes to lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan.
© 2001-2010 STANtours last modified June 12, 2002