Guide-book: Kolsai and Kaindy lakes

Kolsay lakes

Kolsai is a name for a cascade of three lakes in Kungey Alatau ridge. Depending on the weather, the water colour may vary from dark blue to turquoise or green. The Lakes are located at different heights in several high-altitude landscape zones with specific flora and fauna like snow leopard, brown bear, maral, roe, blue whistling-thrush and golden eagle.
Kaindy Lake with its “underwater forest” is another attraction of Kolsay National Park. The lake was formed in 1911 after a huge earthquake that resulted in a big landslide from the eastern slope. A natural dam blocked the gorge and the waters of Kaindy River flooded the spruce forest. Eventually, those parts of the trees sticking out of the water lost branches and bark, and the wood became white. Their underwater bottoms were overgrown with algae, so the whole landscape looks mystically.



  • April: +2°...+12°C daytime; -5°...+5°C in the night
  • July:+15°...+25°C daytime; + 5°...+15°C in the night
  • October: -2°...+8°C daytime; -8°...+2°C in the night
  • January: -10°...-20°C daytime,  -15°...-25°C in the night

Snow cover:

  • April 1-2m
  • July --------
  • October 0.1-0.2m
  • January 0.5-1 m


Roads: there are 280km by good asphalt road from Almaty to Saty village. From Saty to the Kolsay-1 Lake there are 14km, asphalt road. To Kaindy Lake: there is a turn to Kaindy gorge near the entrance to Saty village. There are another 12km from the turn to the Lake by ground trails (uphill, off-road: good for SUVs and 4-wheels).

Trails: those marked on the map are comfortable and frequently used.

National Parks: Kolsay Lakes and Kaindy are located in Kolsay National Park. Entrance fee must be paid at a Park's post, there are two of them: on a way to Kolsay-1 and on a way to Kaindy.

Petrol stations: a good one in Bayseit village (145km from Almaty).

Shops and cafes: there are few shops in Saty village. Cafes are attached to the guest houses.

Water: there are few clean springs with drinking water along the path from Kolsay-1 to Kolsay-2 lakes. The water in the river flowing into Kaindy Lake is also drinkable.

Cellular coverage: cellular connection along the asphalt roads and in villages. No connection around the lakes.


Guest houses

• there are guest houses in and around Saty village (along the gorge)


• there are good places for tent camping near Kolsay-1 and Kolsay-2 lakes, and along the trail. Excellent camping sites near Kaindy there are at the confluence. Permission for tent camping is required, must be paid at the Park's post when entering.


Drive to the east from Almaty, by Kuldja tract. When passed Chilik town, turn right on the ring and move further in a direction of Bayseit village. After Bayseit, go through the Kokpek gorge heading to Charyn bridge. Haven't reached the Bridge, turn right on the crossroads and move in a direction of Zhalanash village. After Zhalanash, the road turns to the west and leads to Saty via Maly Zhalanash village.


Nature: spruce and birch forests, beautiful highland lakes, wildlife (in the upper reaches wild goats and deer can be met)

Summer activity options:

Winter activity options: ski tour, winter hiking


In March and April, due to warming and a large amount of snow on the slopes of the gorge, an avalanche situation may develop. Way to the Kaindy Lake can be impassable.

Activity options:

Hiking to the Second Kolsay Lake
You may plan 3 full days for this trip. On a first day, when drive from Almaty, you can stop in Charyn canyon and take a hike for 2-3 hours by the famous Valley of Castles. When reach Saty village, accommodate at a guest house (there are few in and around the village), in close proximity to the Kolsay-1 Lake. Second day can be spent in hiking: drive up to the First Lake and leave a car at a parking place. Follow the trail, which starts at a First lake and leads to the Second one (there are signs): hike up may take up to 4 hours. Way back is by the same trail (2-3 hours), along the pictorial gorge overgrown with Tien Shan spruce. Round trip is about 19km in total (9.5km one way) with 400m in height difference - that makes 4-8 hours depending on walking speed.
A good idea for the next day is to see the Kaindy Lake with famous underwater forest, before driving back to Almaty. To Kaindy there is a ground trail - it start in 1km to the east from Saty village, and leads up along Kaindy gorge. There are 12km in total, full off-road. After visiting Kaindy, you get back to the main road from Saty, and follow the way to Almaty.

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Kolsai and Kaindy lakes map

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Kolsai and Kaindy lakes map