I am leaving Kazakhstan tonight for six weeks in Colorado, England and Scotland (don't worry, I plan to be back in Kazakhstan in August). So this weekend, was my last chance for a romp in the country-side of southeastern Kazakhstan. Some friends and I used the opportunity to go camping and hiking at the famed Kolsai lakes in the mountains on the Chilik River.
To reach the Kolsai lakes, you drive east from Almaty turning south just before crossing Charyn Canyon. The landscape shifts from the red rocks of the Charyn Canyon, to rounded green hills somehow reminiscent of hobbiton. As the road leads into the mountains, it deteriorates drastically, and the last 30 kilometers involve the arduous dodging of dangerous potholes.
By the time we reached the first lake on Friday evening, it was well after dark. We paid the park fees, camp fees (750 tg per tent) went about setting up camp in the dark. Our evening ended with a delicious burrito dinner, and a roaring fire with s'mores beneath the nearly full supermoon.
Saturday morning brought a gorgeous view of the first lake, and droves of tourists prompting us to pack up camp and head up the trail to the second lake.
The first section of the trail climbs the steep hillside above the first lake and cuts across grassy, wildflower dotted hillsides, high above the first lake. The trail then drops back down to the river and winds through the forested valley following the river. The constant roar of the water rushing through the boulder strewn river bed accompanies all but a few short sections of the trail.
The last two kilometers leading to the second lake are one long, steep uphill climb and we climbed it with the sound of summer thunder ringing in our ears. We reached the top and found a sheltered spot only minutes before the first of the afternoon downpours began.
The Second Lake:
|the mountains above the second lake|
|our camp is in this picture somewhere|
|I wish this picture did justice to the moon on Saturday night|
One last picture of the first lake...
Next stop: Durango Colorado