As you move to the Southeast region of Kazakhstan, you will see a clear change in the terrain. Over here you will be able to find everything, from arid deserts to lush valleys. The region is also famous for its Zhetisu territory, which also means seven rivers. One of them is the beautiful Kolsai National Park. Most travellers club the visit to Kaindy Lake and Kolsai Lakes together. The trio is known as the Golden Triangle.
Kolsai Lake 1
Kolsai Lake 1 or Lower Kolsai Lake or Nizhny Kolsai Lake is close to Saty village. You need to drive uphill from Saty village for about 15 km. The lake shows its deep colours during sunset and sunrise time. Over here, you can do boat riding or pitch tents around the lake or enjoy a good picnic.
Kolsai Lake 2
Kolsai Lake 2 is 8 km from Kolsai Lake 1. However, to reach this lake you have to trek from Kolsai Lake 1. It starts with a gradual climb where you walk right parallel to the Kolsai lake 1. After a while, you will be trekking through the forest grassland.
It takes about 3 to 4 hours to reach the top and few of the patches are very steep.
Even if you do not plan to trek all the way to Kolsai Lake 2, at least go halfway to the other side of Kolsai Lake 1 where you will come across many river streams and a picnic spot without any tourists. It is very peaceful here.
Along the way, you will also come across two yellow signboards that let you know the altitude and distance remaining to Kolsai Lake 2.
How to get Reach the Kolsai Lakes
If you have your own private car or have rented your own car, then even commuting won’t be an issue. It is easy to explore Kolsai Lakes independently in this case.
If you are travelling on a budget and cannot take a private car, then another option available is to take a shared taxi to Kegen. From here you can hitchhike to the village Saty. From Saty village the lakes are another 15 km.
We chose to stay in Saty village overnight and then hitchhiked to Kolsai Lake. Hitchhiking is quite common in Kazakhstan. People readily give a lift if they are going in the same direction, however, it is always better to contribute towards the fuel cost. Hitchhiking is not entirely free in Kazakhstan.
Accommodation at the Kolsai Lakes
Saty offers plenty of homestays and hotels to stay in. They also offer food and will charge about 5,000 to 6,000 tenge. We booked the hostel on the spot so there was no problem in finding one.
However, there is also an option of staying near the lakes. There are yurts close to the lake that will charge about 7,000 to 10,000 tenge. You can also pitch your own tents and camp next to the lake. There is a ground area specially dedicated to camping.
The best time to visit the Kolsai Lakes
Kolsai lakes can be visited throughout the year, however, summertime is usually the busiest time of all. When you will visit the Kolsai lakes between May and October, the lakes are melted and you can enjoy a good picnic and boating in the summer heat.
Although if you want to witness snow, then go between December to April. But during there months you won’t be able to visit the Lake 2 since the trail is covered with snow and ice. Also, try to avoid the lakes during the weekend time as it is very crowded during those days. To enjoy the peace and quiet visit the lakes during weekdays.
What to pack for the Kolsai Lakes
- Warm Jacket – Temperature in Kolsai Lakes can get very cold. Especially if you are planning to camp here then getting warm clothes is very essential. In fact, the temperature in Kolsai lake 2 is even colder
- Rain Cover/Poncho – Carry a good piece of rain cover if you are planning to travel during the monsoon season.
- Hiking Shoes – The trail to both lake 1 and lake 2 can get muddy. Even if you do not have a professional pair of hiking shoes, try to bring at least a sturdy pair of shoes
- Sunglasses, Hat and Sunscreen – At higher altitudes, the sun can be very harsh and harmful for your skin. Carry a good pair of sunscreen and hat to protect yourself from skin tanning
- Snacks – The only general store that you could find is in Saty village. Carry enough snacks so that you have access to food near the lake
- Toilet Paper – The toilet near the lake does not have the facility of toilet paper. Ensure you are carrying some
- Passport – Before you enter the Saty village, you will be asked to show your passport. Ensure that you are carrying one so that you can enter the village that leads to these lakes
Kolsai Lakes are very beautiful and once of the major tourist’s attractions. Even though reaching here is slightly difficult but the beauty of the lakes will make the effort worth it. Ensure that you have done proper research so that your travel can be easy.