In this article we will answer most frequently asked questions like "Where is Kolsay lakes", "Hiking at Kolsai National Park", "Is it possible to do camping on Kolsay Lakes" and many more others.
So, this is what Wikipedia says about Kolsay Lakes: "Kolsay Lakes National Park (Kazakh: Көлсай көлдері ұлттық паркі, Qólsaı kólderi ulttyq parki) is located on the north slope of the Tian Shan Mountains, southeast Kazakhstan (10 km from the border with Kyrgyzstan). Often referred to as "Pearls of Tien Shan", the park's main feature are the Kolsay Lakes located between the Raiymbek District and Talgar District of Almaty Region. The scenic Lake Kaindy is also within the park. The park boundary is 120 kilometres (75 mi) southeast of Almaty." We fully agree that the lakes are true gems of Tian Shan mountains, and the reason why we love to come back there again and again is perfect hiking routes and finger-licking home-made Kazakh food in local guest houses.
First Kolsay Lake
Weather at Kolsay Lakes.
We love to visit the lakes in any season - it's always great to walk around the lake, enjoy the stunning view of unique Tian Shan spruce trees and breath crystal clean air filled with healing phytoncides from conifers.
But you have to be ready for big change of temperatures: it can be hot summers (+30 degree Celsius) and fiercely cold winters (-25 degree Celsius). Even during one summer day you can experience summer heat at the first lake & heavy rain with ice cold wind at the second. So don't forget your wind-proof raincoat and warm fleece sweater! And of course in any weather you will need appropriate footwear - hardened and supportive hiking boots to combat dirt, mud & jagged rocks.
Hiking around the Kolsay lakes.
Personally I think the hiking experience between first and second Kolsay lakes is absolutely perfect in terms of gradual rise of altitude and complexity of terrain. There are three points with benches, little tables and at some of these points you can find informational boards with altitude number you are on. At these points we usually do short rest breaks. So until the first rest point (it will say that you are on altitude of 1882 meters) its mostly quite relaxed mode of hiking with just one steep point close to the middle part of the first lake - it is like preparation of your body for the next parts. Between first and second points you will feel that hike became a bit more intense, and the part between second and third points will be most complicated but at the same time most intteresting! It will be steep rise with zigzag tiny roads going all the way up hill. Most of the people turn back on this part but actually it is the last big hike on the way to the second lake. So if you have enough time (always turn back after 4 pm in mountains if you don't plan to camp) and energy - just keep going. After you finally reach the third rest point with benches (there is no table at that last point) its only around 30 minutes of hiking to the second lake. It is around 8 km one way between the lakes, usually requires around 3 hours of active hiking. At the beginning of the second lake its possible that you meet border guards ( the border line with Kyrgyzstan is very close to the lakes), they usually check the passport - don't forget to take the passport! You will need to show it at the entrance to the Satty village firstly, then you'll show it at the entrance to the national park on the way to the first lake and lastly on the second lake. If you wish to hike further to the third lake, you will need special permission that will allow you to be at the border line area between Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan. At the second lake we usually have well-deserved picnic, short walk around the lake and then we go back. Its also possible to camp at the shore of second lake, there is nice flat area great for setting the tent.