Almaty • Kazakhstan • 1818 m
There are 3 mountain's lakes which are strung along the Kolsay river. The source of the river Kolsay start from the South at the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in the Kungey Alatoo range :
- The lower lake is about 1 km long, 400 meters wide, and 80 meters in depth. It is accessible by road and has guest-houses and campsites. (altitude: 1818 meters).
- The middle Kolsay Lake (Mynzholky - meaning "1000 years old"). Five kilometers upstream from the lower lake, the middle lake is the largest of the three, and reaches a depth of 50 meters. (altitude: 2,252 meters). It is considered the most scenic of the three Kolsay Lakes. In one day, you can hike from the lower lake to the middle lake and back.
- The upper lake is situated six kilometers above the middle lake, the upper lake is surrounded by spruce trees and alpine meadows. It is 6 km from the Sary-Bulak pass and Kyrgyzstan. (altitude: 2,850 meters). Today the access to the upper lake is restricted and you need a special permit.
All glacial lakes of the region are located at altitudes of 3200–3500 m closer to the central part of the Kungei Alatau range. Most of these lakes are not stable, the water level often change, appear and disappear. You may have in mind that in the hot summer months, the moraine dams of these lakes sometimes break through and form mudslides, which are dangerous for tourists. The main causes of mudflows are torrential rains, slipping of glaciers and moraines into moraine lakes, breakthrough of natural dams created by avalanches or debris on rivers.
In order to protect this unique environment, the State National Natural Park "Kolsay Lakes" was established in 2007.