Kolsay and Kaindy Lakes

Kolsay and Kaindy are amazing Ile-Alatau mountain lakes located about 280 km far from Almaty city.

Location description:

Kaindy mountain lake is located in Kungey Alatau mountains in Kolsay National Park, 129 km south-east from Almaty on altitude of about 2000 m. The lake is quite small – 400m in length and 30 m in depth. The lake was formed in 1911 when rockslide created a dam in the valley. The main peculiarity of the lake is the tree trunks popping out of the water. Cold water in the lake prevented them from decay for more than hundred years.

Kolsay lakes are located in neighboring valley to Kaindy. There are three lakes: Lower, Kolsay 1 – on altitude of 1818m, Middle Kolsay 2 – 2252m and Upper Kolsay-3 – 2852m. The road to lakes ends on the northern tip of Kolsay-1 lake – the most visited lake with campsites and guest houses. Kolsay-2 lake is the biggest one and located 7 km further south along the river. The walking time is about 3-4 hours one way. The highest and smallest lake is 6 km further from the Middle, but due to close border to Kyrgystan the access to that lake is usually prohibited.

Tour description:

Preferable season for the trip to Kolsay and Kaindy lakes: May-September. Tour duration is 3 (2) days (depending on preferred tour composition).

See the interactive map of the basic tour program below with main tour milestones.

  1. DAY-1, DEPARTURE: You will be picked up at agreed location. It’s preferable to start trip as early as possible to escape from city traffic jams, 07:00 by default. When outside the city we will take our way to the East along the chain of Ile-Alatau mountains.
  2. Next stop will be in small village. Baiseit market is a good place to buy local seasonal fruits and vegetables and stretch legs a bit after 1 hour drive. After market the landscape becomes less green with closing mounting ridge. Finally, road will turn into Kokpek pass and start to go up in between rocky hills. After going through the mountains, you will find yourself on a big desert Siugatin Plato located between two mountain ridges on the North and South. The road will go through deserty plato.
  3. CHARYN CANYON: Just in front of another ridge there will be a turn to Charyn Canyon (Valley of Castles). Visit of Charyn Canyon will take about 3-4 hours. We will walk through the canyon to the bank of Charyn river and have lunch in oasis. After some rest we go back to the car and return to main route. The road will lead through pass and cross Toraigyr ridge with fantastic view on the valley.
  4. MOON LANDSCAPE. We will make a small stop on Charyn river bridge and go to “Moon Landscape view”. Amazing view on surroundings will make you breathless for a while. Road to Sati village will take about 1,5-2h with a short stop with a view on Black canyon.
  5. SATI. We will come to Sati village around 19-00. There are many guest houses in the village. Its good place to stay overnight to immerse into traditional kazakh life and relax after exciting day. (Optional: we can stop in yurt/guest house/tent near Kolsay-1 lake).
  6. DAY-2, KOLSAY-1. After breakfast in the morning we go to Kolsay lakes. The road from Sati to Kolsay-1 lake takes about 30 minutes. We leave our car on parking lot and start our journey toward Kolsay-2 lake. The distance to Kolsay-2 lake is about 7 km and it takes 3-4h to get there.
  7. KOLSAY-2. The landscapes along the trail are great. After arrival to the lake we will have lunch and some time for relaxation. After we go back to Kolsay-1 and spend some time there. By 19-00 we return to Sati village for a dinner.
  8. DAY-3, KAINDY. After having breakfast we go to Kaindy lake. The road there is bad and it takes about 40 min to cross 10km. Finally there is parking lot near small Kaindy lakes. We will have small hike to several places near the lake to enjoy its beauty. For lunch we go back to Sati village. The road back to Almaty takes about 4 hours. In the evening we return back to your place of stay.

Note: Tour program can be shortened to 2 days (exclude Kolsay-2 hike and Moon Landscape place), but it’s not recommended as travelling will take significant amount of time.

Interactive map tips:  Use button on the up-left corner to customise visible layers. Click on any icon on the map to get more information about the place – linked to google maps.  

Prepare yourself:


Weather in mountains can change rapidly, so check weather conditions in advance to take appropriate clothes and shoes. Temperature is usually 5-10°C lower than in the city and at nights can reach 0°C. General recommendations for comfortable and safe journey:

  • Passports – to pass entrances to National parks
  • Hat or cap – to protect yourself from sunstroke in summer / cool wind in autumn and spring
  • Sun glasses –  to keep your eyes safe from bright sunlight
  • Good tracking boots / sport shoes – important to have good traction
  • Warm/windproof clothes – not to get frozen in the evenings and during rainy weather
  • Photo camera – to make memorable pictures
  • Sun protection cream – more exposure to ultraviolet higher in the mountains

Service cost:

For a group of 2 adult people 3-day tour will cost – 190.000 tenge for a group. The price is approximate and may vary depending on tour composition, number of people and place of accomodation. For group of more than 4 adult people second car will be required.

Service costs included:

  • Transportation – comfortable 4×4 offroad capable car (capacity: 4 adults + 2 kids on 3rd row seats).
  • Guidance – provided on English language
  • Fees to National parks
  • Snacks and water

Service costs NOT included (more information can be provided):

  • Accommodation – depends on individual preferences. (Recommendation: sati village guest house, 10.000 tenge per person per night, breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
  • Food – in case you would like to stay in tent (To be calculated separately based on your preferences)
  • Insurance

Complementary services:

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER:  If you book multiday tour or several daily tours and you are a group of 2-3 adult people + kids I highly recommend to take professional photographer to capture most exciting moments and views in the tour. The service cost 30.000 tenge per day. After tour you will get at least 100 professionally processed photos in a digital format. In case you would like to have photo album from your tours, you will get 10% discount on it . The examples of professional photos from the tours are HERE.

MEET AND GREET: In case you order multiday tour / several daily tours in advance we can meet you in the airport and deliver to your place of stay in Almaty for free.

General Information:

Please, for booking a tour try to contact in advance (at least 2 weeks before) especially if you are planning your trip on holidays. Trip description is given for general information and can be altered based on your preferences and desire. In case you have used our services, you are kindly asked to leave your feedback on a tour in comments or in social networks.