Lake Kaindy in southern Kazakhstan is one of the newest and most unique natural wonders on our planet. Although literally unknown in the West, if it was located in any European country, it would be its best tourist attraction. Especially beautiful in the fall (autumn), Lake Kaindy boasts not only exceptionally attractive blue color of water and snowy rocky mountains surrounding it but also the unique, silver trunks of dead spruce sticking out of the lake's surface. The "flooded forest" is indeed one of the natural landmarks of Kazakhstan. It all creates a fairy-tale like scenery, not seen anywhere else.
How to get to Lake Kaindy
Lake Kaindy (meaning landslide in Kazakh) is located in the south of Kazakhstan, within Kolsai Lakes National Park, right at the border with Kyrgyzstan. Wikitravel states that the distance from the country's largest city and former capital - Almaty (I've described it here) is 130 km (80 miles). This may be true if it's measured in a straight line, but due to the mountainous nature of the region and poor condition of the roads it would take around 5 hours to drive - and following the roads, the correct distance is around 275 km (170 miles).
Google Maps don't work properly in Kazakhstan and locals use the Russian search engine yandex. If you speak Russian, and are able to drive in Kazakhstan, you can go to the village of Saty in Kolsai National Park - the base for the mountainous trips with local houses available to rent. Lake Kaindy is additional 15 km (9 miles) up a dirt road (1 hour drive) away from Saty. There is an entrance gate to the lake and you must pay a fee to continue driving.
The village of Saty does not look like a typical tourist village in western countries. It's completely local and there is no Internet, shopping centers, pubs or any modern things of this sort. I didn't even notice a hotel there! Most probably, you must know some locals to know in which house to stay.
Everything is made in a local style - the experience is unforgettable and so worth it! The food is prepared out of local ingredients grown by local farmers, at dusk it gets quiet and you feel as if you've traveled in time some 100 years back. I'll write more about Saty village in the post about the other two Kolsai Lakes soon.
If you don't speak Russian - you're going to have a problem. Very few people in Kazakhstan speak English. Even in hotels, at the airport information desk or in tourist points we didn't find anyone who spoke English!
If you want to find yourself in a different world, easy to reach, completely undiscovered and so exciting - choose Kazakhstan! It's a sheer essence of adventure.
There are, however, travel agencies who can prepare an amazing, adventurous tours with a private driver and home stays with Kazakh families - you can admire the spectacular natural wonders as well as the local way of life at a good price. It's an experience one of a kind! If would like to get more information, you can contact me here.
How and when Lake Kaindy was formed
As I've mentioned earlier - Lake Kaindy is one of the newest lakes in the world. It was formed by an earthquake in 1911 which triggered serious landslides in the region. The river was blocked and the forest that grew at the foot of the hill was flooded by water. Up to this day we can admire the silver protruding dead trees that contrast amazingly with the bright blue surface of the lake.
Underneath the surface, the branches are preserved well, overgrown with algae and other water plants. Diving there must be an amazing experience! But it's not available to an ordinary traveler.
Visiting Lake Kaindy
Lake Kaindy (as well as the other Kolsai Lakes) is situated in an extremely attractive area where desert, steppe, dry mountains, canyons end and snowy peaks with more humid climate begin. You can clearly notice the change in surroundings while driving - one side of the mountains is dry and sunny, and the other is densely forested - often with clouds that are hung over the snowy peaks and seem to be locked in that position - they hardly ever cross to the dry side of the slopes.
When you are in Saty, it might seem difficult to believe that 15 km from here you'll be able to see alpine mountains flora and lakes. Indeed, you feel like you've entered a different world - suddenly the barren hills give way to high mountains and lush green forests. We visited lake Kaindy in the fall (autumn) and it was beautiful. The trees started changing colors and made the whole area even more attractive.
Lake Kaindy itself is really attractive and beautiful. There were a couple of tourists there but all of them were local. The place is literally untouched. It's the advantage as well as disadvantage: the only thing that could be improved about visiting the lake is that there should be a trail around it and a couple of viewing points. It would allow the visitors to enjoy the view both from the shore and from a higher point. The lake is right in a middle of a thick forests and cannot be seen properly from the dirt road - the trees cover everything. To take some nice photos I had to break through the thick shrubs and brambles - it wasn't pleasant at all! But the views were of course!
Nevertheless, the whole experience was amazing and the dead trees in the lake make it probably the most extraordinary mountainous lake in the world.
Copying without permission is not allowed. If you wish to use any of the site's content (photos or text) or work with us, please contact us.
We welcome questions, advice, support or criticism. However, spam comments will be removed.