The Kolsay Lakes

The Kolsay Lakes, often referred to as the "Pearls of the Northern Tien Shan," are a chain of three stunning mountain lakes located in the Almaty Region of southeastern Kazakhstan, near the Kyrgyz border. These lakes are known for their exceptional natural beauty, clear waters, and the surrounding lush forests and alpine meadows. 

Here is an overview of the Kolsay Lakes:

Location: The Kolsay Lakes are situated in the northern part of the Tian Shan (Tien Shan) Mountains, approximately 10-12 hours' drive from Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. The lakes are found in the Kolsay Gorge, which is part of the Ile-Alatau National Park.

Formation: The lakes were formed by a series of natural processes, including glacial activity. The names of the three lakes are Kolsay-1, Kolsay-2, and Kolsay-3, with each lake being at a higher elevation than the one below it.

Kolsay-1: The first lake, Kolsay-1, is the easiest to access, and it's the largest of the three. It's surrounded by a dense forest and offers opportunities for fishing and picnicking.

Kolsay-2: The second lake, Kolsay-2, is located higher up in the mountains and is known for its crystal-clear waters. The surrounding area features alpine meadows and is a popular spot for trekking.

Kolsay-3: Kolsay-3 is the highest and smallest of the three lakes. It's known for its rugged beauty and proximity to the Kungey Alatau glaciers. Hiking to this lake is more challenging but rewarding.

Flora and Fauna: The Kolsay Lakes region is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species. Visitors can spot various wildlife, including marmots, mountain goats, and a variety of bird species. The area is also known for its wildflowers during the summer months.

Hiking and Trekking: The Kolsay Lakes are a hiker's paradise. The trek between the lakes offers different ecosystems and stunning scenery. Hiking to Kolsay-2 and Kolsay-3 can be more challenging due to the elevation gain.

Camping: The lakeside areas provide suitable locations for camping, and camping is a popular way to experience the natural beauty of the region.

Photography: The breathtaking landscapes and the reflections of the mountains in the pristine waters of the lakes make the Kolsay Lakes a paradise for photographers.

Seasonal Considerations: The best time to visit the Kolsay Lakes is during the summer months (June to September) when the weather is milder, and the wildflowers are in full bloom. The area can be quite cold and snow-covered during the winter.


The Kolsay Lakes are a hidden gem in Kazakhstan, offering a peaceful and picturesque retreat in the heart of the Tian Shan Mountains. It's a place where nature enthusiasts, hikers, and photographers can immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes of the region while enjoying the serenity and tranquility of the mountain lakes.