Kolsai Lakes Kungei Alatau

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Somehow, most Kazakhstani citizens believe that Kungei Alatau is the territory of Kyrgyzstan already, but the border passes exactly between two ridges along Chilik valley. Meanwhile, border on the east side of Talgar is laid exactly along Kungei watershed. And thanks to this, the perfect mountain lakes of eastern side of Kungei are under full and unconditional jurisdiction of Kazakhstan. The root of the mass mistake is not lack of patriotism, but poor knowledge of geography.

Uniqueness of Kolsai gorge is that three lakes at once are located on the relatively small distance from each other. And the first (lowest) one can be easily reached, it is 3-4 hours drive from Almaty. Another two hours (on a horse) would lift you to the second lake. After spending the night on the second one, you need just a few hours to get to the third one, which is at the upper border of the forest. And from there, if everything is fine, you need to mount Sary-Bulakpass (3278 m) up, and then you have all chances to get to Issyk-Kul (and it is  already Kyrgyzstan) by the evening. But it is just an option. For most of the people the first lake is enough; it stretched along the gorge at an altitude of 1800 meters above sea level. Here is some infrastructure, people and the benefits of civilization.

The first Kolsay (on the map it is called Lower) is typical mountain reservoir formed as the result of a cataclysm that caused the collapse of the slopes of the gorge. As a result, the way of a mountain stream wasblocked, and the lake was formedbehind the natural dam. Typically, these lakes can reach a considerable depth, and be an ideal candidate for inhabitation of every antediluvian exotic, such as Nessie. Although,nothing like this has been noticedin the depths of the first lake, so far; it does not mean that it will not happen in the near future. Usually, the appearance of monsters is in direct relation with the phenomenon of mass tourism. It seems that with the development of tourism we are going to be witnesses of a fascinating hunt after elusive Kols–Nessie’s sister.

Especially, all three Kolsai lakes are suitable for such phenomena;spacious second lake (the most beautiful), which is called Mynzhalka some times; and wild third (Upper) one, which I personally like the mostfor its otherness and extreme.

Regarding the species that live in the First Kolsai, first of all, I have to mention rainbow trout, which was delivered from Czechoslovakia and bred for "royal fishing" for senior communist rulers. A special hunting house with staff of special rangers was built for them on the dam. During the Soviet times, no one was allowed in to the valley. Now, paid routes are laidin the gorge for "unorganized" tourists. Regarding trout, it became less. Although, if you sit on the lakeside you will see how elastic splashes disturb the mirror surfaceof the lake.

Kaiyndy is our entrance to the nether world

Kaiyndy is located in the basin of the river Chilik, close to the famous Kolsai lakes, they are across the gorge and to another mountain basin in the gorge Uryukty. It is also close (by our standards) the Aktogai Charyn Canyon and to aspen forests of Chilik flood plain because of the historic horse - foot passes to Issyk-Kul. This part of Semirechye, by its landscape, aspires to an example of the world's natural heritage,according to the UNESCO classification.

Kaiyndy is interesting by its unique appearance. Imagine a dark, almost black mirror-like surface of the lake with smooth white trunks of the dead spruces sticking out from the waterthatis jammed between wild mountains. Mystery and tragedy is spreading from all of this. Some special oppressive silence of these places only adds a sense of closeness to something otherworldly and enchanted. Like some spell lies on the lake, imposed on it for somefault by some pagan host of local scale.

But the main effect is created by the reflections of dead tree trunks sticking out from the black mirror water. Here on Kaiyndy, your own feelings become keener from this primitive fabulous atmosphere. You feel like you are standing on the edge of that very pit, where Dante’s character found himself after passing over the half of his earthly limit. But here, the entrance to the netherworld, so far, is covered with a layer of viscous and dead water. For the time being...

Chronicle of the disasters

But if you come to these lakesides without feelings, using only your brain, turbulent geological history will appear in front of the eyes, and Lake Kaiyndy was right in the middle of it. Obviously, the reservoir used to be much greater in size and depth, boundary of the former water level, which can be seen on the lakeside,clearly indicates that. It resembles to Lake Issyk. Apparently, here was once a tragedy comparable to the Issyk: mudslide burst into Kaiyndy, overflowed the bowl, and demolished a natural dam. The water left. And a vast field formedinstead of the lake, where magnificent forest of centuries-old Tien- Shan spruces eventually grew. But the interior of the Earthin these places is very restless, and all the mountains, here, are covered with scars from the terrible earthquakes, shaking the young mountains. During one of the earthquakes, slope collapsed and partially restored the dam. Lakebowlrefilled with water, flood and killed the forest. But apparently, the water in these areas has also some embalming properties. Anyway, spruces did not rot and fall, but remained standing in the middle of the newborn lake as a stockade of bare trunks.

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