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| Kolsai lakes - "Pearls of the Northern Tien-Shan" - represent a cascade of three mountain lakes. Anyone who at least once has seen these fascinating treasures of nature, will never forget their splendor, dark blue water, peace and calmness around...
Route: Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1. Almaty - Saty Settlement - Kaindy Lake - Saty Settlement
Having met the guide at your hotel at 08:00, you will board a comfortable minivan to start your unforgettable journey to Kolsai Lakes. This day you will cross over 300 km from Almaty to Saty settlement (5-6 hours). On the way you will have an opportunity to stop in a village to feel the atmosphere of a local market. Upon arrival to Saty, you will check-in at the guest house, where you will spend next two nights. After lunch, you will change the vehicle to one of AWD local cars, such as "UAZ" or "PAZ" (Russian car models), as they are fully capable to cover uneven mountain road (12 km) to Kaindy Lake.
Kaindy Lake (birch lake) is situated among magnificent pine forest at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level and is famous for its origin. It was formed in 1911 due to the powerful earthquake that triggered the landslide blocked the valley by the natural dam, and the water has flooded the valley. The water of the lake is very cold, that is why the needles of the flooded trees are well preserved and clearly visible through the transparent surface of the water, and dry stems of fir trees overlook the water surface, like the masts of the submarine squadron. It is impossible to describe in words all this mystical splendor of the lake – it is necessary to go there and see everything with own eyes.
After walking around the lake you will return to Saty settlement to take a shower, have dinner and rest. Overnight in the guest house.
Day 2. Saty Settlement - Kolsai Lakes - Saty Settlement
This day starts with breakfast and departure to Kolsai Lakes at 08:00. For the day you will be provided with bottled water and lunch-boxes. Please take care of your own backpack to carry the lunch.
Kolsai Lakes - "Pearls of the Northern Tien-Shan" - represent a cascade of three lakes. The largest lake is accessible for all visitors. It is the most beautiful lake, having a lack of civilization and the abundance of mushrooms. Horse lovers can order horseback tour to this place. The highest lake is small. It is located on the border of fir-wood and the alpine meadows and amazes by its harsh alpine beauty, as well as the rich flora and fauna. Vertical drop between the three lakes is about 700 meters. The lowest lake can be reached by car. But you should walk few kilometers along mountain trails to see the second and the third lake. Without doubts the tourists are expected to have a wonderful vacation in these places - berries, mushrooms and fishing. The water in the lakes is cold and clean and is home for the rainbow trout - a fish that lives only in the running or spring water. In the around mountains you can see Marals, mountain goats, wolves and even bears.
Having arrived to Kolsay-3 Lake and got a brief instruction, you will start the trekking. The route lies on the bank of the lake and continues with the path through the pine forest, alpine meadows along pure mountain river flowing all the way down from Kolsai-2 Lake. The total walking distance between two lakes is about 7 km and usually takes 3-3,5 hours one way. An altitude rises up more than 400 m, from 1818 m above sea level at the first lake to 2250 m at the second lake. There is no category of difficulty and route is accessible for healthy, average-trained people.
Enjoying your lunch in front of the cold and pure-clean lake in surroundings of magnificent mountain peaks is priceless after active trekking. Afternoon walk back to Kolsai-3 Lake and driving back to Saty settlement. Arrival to the settlement. Dinner and overnight in the guest house.
Day 3. Saty Settlement - Charyn Canyon - Almaty
After breakfast you will leave a hospitable family and depart to Charyn Canyon at 08:00. It will take about 2 hours to reach the canyon. Upon arrival, you will admire the grand panorama and go down to the bottom of the canyon to walk around 2 km through the maze of the Castles Valley.
Charyn Canyon is a natural complex, unique in its kind not only in Kazakhstan but also worldwide. It was formed during Paleogene and reminds the Grand Canyon of Colorado River in North America, although inferior to it in size. The height of the steep slopes of the canyon is up to 150-300 meters. Extraordinary dissection of the terrain is striking: the numerous ravines form a dense, chaotic network. Wind and water have created the beautiful "Valley of Castles", where you are always surrounded by the fancy towers composed of sedimentary rocks. The length of the valley - more than 2 km, width - 20-80 meters. For millions of years the nature has been creating a unique architecture, erecting magnificent castles carefully and slowly. You can spend hours walking among the strange towers and columns, being surprised by the wild imagination of the nature.
The bottom of the Canyon has slight descend to the end of the walk, where you will get to the fresh oasis on the bank of icy cold Charyn River, where also located eco-park with several yurts (traditional dwellings) and a small open air café, working in the summer time. After some rest walking back and driving to one of the observation points for another breathtaking panoramic view. After 3-4 hours spent in the canyon you will depart to Almaty. The lunch will be served in a local café in a village in 1-hour driving distance after the canyon. Arrival to your hotel in Almaty is approx. at 19:00.