Two Day Tour to the Charyn Canyon and Kolsai & Kaindy Lakes
Duration: 2 days
Experience the scenic beauty of south-eastern Kazakhstan on this private tour from Almaty. Discover the majestic Charyn Canyon and try active hiking at the stunning Kolsai & Kaindy Lakes. Take in unforgettable views of the classic landscapes of the Zhetisu region with your knowledgeable guide.
In Dostar Trips, we treat each of our guests as a friend we just didn’t meet yet (“dostar” means friends from Kazakh). If you take a trip with us – you can rely on our friendly support during all your stay even after the tour, we will always be happy to help you with anything you need – advise the best place to eat, buy a train ticket, meet locals. Check out what our previous guests are saying about us on TripAdvisor. Let’s be friends!
- Visit the most beautiful national parks in Kazakhstan
- Take the splendor of Charyn Canyon with a nice hike in the Valley of Castles
- Enjoy breathtaking scenery of Kolsai lakes and ascend from the first lake to the second
- Tackle a mystery of a sunken forest at Kaindy lake
- Experience Kazakh cuisine and culture in a carefully selected Kolsai lakes guesthouse
Day 1: CHARYN CANYON & KAINDY LAKE
Explore Charyn Canyon and see the sunken forest at Kaindy lake.
We will pick you up right from your hotel, you’ll be met by our friendly English-speaking guide and super-experienced driver. Let’s set off from Almaty and follow the new Silk Road of our days – the Khorgos-Almaty highway. On the way to the canyon, we will talk about the country, culture, people, and the history of Kazakhstan. Driving time to Charyn Canyon from Almaty is around 2.5 hours one way with stops (distance from Almaty to the Charyn Canyon is around 220 km or 136 miles).
During our road trip, you will observe the striking diversity of landscapes: from green agricultural fields of nearby villages sown with fruits and vegetables suddenly being swapped for the endless ascetic steppes stretching to the edge of the horizon with a rare bunch of sheep leading by a lonely herder.
On the way, we will have a stop at the little rustic Uighur village with the lively and colorful market and smell of grilled meat and tandyr samsa (meat-filled savory pastry baked at the special tandyr oven)! Be ready for the new gastronomical experiences! Let’s follow the words of legendary Anthony Bourdain: “Your body is not a temple – it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”
Today during our Charyn Canyon tour from Almaty you will not only try new food but also be awestruck by the impressive beauty of the canyon. We will have gentle descent at the Valley of Castles and have a picnic at the shore of the Charyn river that carved the canyon 12 million years ago, and then ascend up back to the surface with a short scramble up at the end. So please make sure to wear comfortable shoes with a good outsole.
After spending around 3 hours in the canyon we will leave it and drive to Satty village, which is the closest village to Kolsai lakes. Driving from the canyon to the village will take around 2,5 hours (92 km or 57 miles), but don’t worry: the road is brand-new, and landscapes you’ll see on the way worth driving!
Arriving at Satty village and departure to Kaindy Lake.
Unusual and mysterious Kaindy Lake (Birch Lake) is located at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. Kaindy lake was formed as the result of a huge landslide after the powerful earthquake in 1911. The landslide blocked the river and the water has flooded the valley. That is how appeared the lake with Tien Shan fir tries in the middle. The water of the lake is very cold, that is why the needles of the flooded trees are well preserved and clearly visible through the transparent surface of the water, and dry stems of fir trees overlook the water surface. It is impossible to describe in words all this mystical splendor of the lake – it is necessary to go there and see everything with own eyes.
In the evening we leave Kaindy lake and drive to Satty village, where we have a hearty dinner at the guesthouse of a local family. Banya – sauna if you wish.
Night at the guest house
Day 2: KOLSAY LAKES
Hike and scramble from the first Kolsai lake to the second through the spruce forest.
Wake up in the heart of the Northern Tian Shan mountains, fuel up on breakfast at the guesthouse before starting the hike from the first Kolsai lake to the second one.
Today’s hike is a wonderful waltz of ascending and descending through the old spruce tree’ forest, it’ll take around 6-7 hours both ways (16 km, around 500 meters is a height between lakes).
The hike is great training for the whole body, so don’t forget to bring comfortable hiking clothes and shoes!
Important: Please take an actual passport (not a copy) for hiking, cause the border with Kyrgyzstan is located around 10 km from the second Kolsai lake and you can be asked to show your passport by border soldiers.
In the afternoon we will have a well-earned picnic and relax time on the shore of the second lake. My favorite part of the hike I should say!
It’s time to move back to the first Kolsai lake, after giving the last glance at the lake we will drive back to Almaty. Driving will take roughly 5 hours with hygienic stops (Almaty to Kolsai lake distance is approximately 288 km or 179 miles).
Arrive in Almaty, drop off at your hotel (or at the airport – as you wish)
What is included:
- Accommodation – guest house at Kolsay Lakes’ Satty village
- Food – 2 lunches, 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
- All fees & tickets
What to take:
- Comfortable shoes (better if it is waterproof & with rubber relief sole)
- Warm rain jacket (it’s possible to have some rain on the way to the second lake)
- Hiking sticks
- Insect repellent
Photography from Slawomir Adamczak, Pawel Plocienniczak & Stephen Bridger
All prices are in USD, prices are negotiable depending on your needs and wishes.