The Kolsai Lakes are one of the most beautiful places in the Almaty region and in Kazakh nature. They are located at an altitude of 1800, 2250 and 2700 metres above sea level. They are characterised by a unique watershed mountain landscape consisting of three natural zones and a variety of rare plants and animals. The Kolsai Lakes are called the Pearl of the Northern Tien Shan and are located in the Almaty region, 300 km from Almaty.
The Kolsai River rises on the Kungei-Alatau ridge and flows into three lakes: the Upper, the Mynzholki and the Lower. The water in the lakes is fresh and hard and contains sodium sulphate. The bottom is shallow in some places, without rocky outcrops. The water temperature is +10 degrees Celsius in summer. A triad of high mountain lakes, strung like a string of pearls, adorns the northern Tien Shan.
At an altitude of 1800 metres, the grass cover of the shrubby spruce forests is represented by tall meadow grasses. The spruce forests of the Tian Shan mainly occupy the northern slopes. Spruces do not form large forest areas, but often grow in large groups. Tang Shan spruces reach a height of 40-50 m and a diameter of 2 m. The coniferous forest belt reaches up to 2700-3000 m and gradually merges into high-altitude alpine meadows. Typical inhabitants of all three natural zones are: Bear, wolf, lynx, hare, Siberian goat, snow leopard, wild boar and badger.
The Kolsai lakes are very deep: the deepest point of the first lake is 80 m, that of the second is 50 m. The water in the second lake is very shallow. The warm season lasts from April to the end of September. The Kolsai Lakes are a destination for many travellers. The hike to the Kolsai Lakes is one of the easiest. If you travel from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan to Lake Issyk-Kul, you can enjoy the beauty and diversity of nature in these countries.
Kolsai is a great place for camping, hiking, horse riding and mountain biking. The nearest settlement is Saty village, 320 km from Almaty. The first lake is 1 km long and about 300 m wide. A road leads to it.
The middle lake is at an altitude of 2,552 m, 5 km above the first lake. It is large and extraordinarily picturesque, like a bowl of turquoise crystal in the palm trees of the mountains. At sunset, the lower and middle lakes teem with playing trout. The upper Kolsay is 4 km further and 600 m higher than the second lake. Behind it, at an altitude of 6 km, is the border with Kyrgyzstan. The Sary Bulak Pass (3278 m) offers a view of the blue Issyk-Kul.
The entire distance to the pass and on to Issyk-Kul can be covered on horseback in one day, on foot the crossing takes 2-3 days. The landscape is mostly forested, the valleys between the lakes are usually designed for three days. Horses can be hired in the village, sledges from the local forester. Hiking trails have been laid out and inns run here. At Lake Kolsay-1, tourists are accommodated in the Zhibek Zholy guesthouse, at Lakes Kolsay-2 and 3 in tents. Kolsai-1 is 300 km from Almaty and 45 km from the Zhibek Zholy guesthouse in Zhalanash. Kolsay-2 and 3 are 2.5 to 4 hours apart.
There are guesthouses on the coast, always ready to receive visitors who want to rest by the lakes with crystal-clear water reflecting the impregnable mountain peaks and slopes. From the windows you have a magnificent view of the lake, and the evenings in front of the fireplace will remain in your memory for a long time.
Those lucky enough to visit these places will never forget the splendour, peace and tranquillity of the surroundings. When the surface of the water is absolutely calm, it reflects the sky and the enchanting panorama of the mountain landscape. The lakes, surrounded by rocks, forests, alpine meadows and whole clearings of delicate olive-coloured edelweiss flowers, will literally enchant you.