Lake KaIndy (Dead lake)
Kaindy lake is one of the most famous natural wonders of Kazakhstan, known for the narrow trunks of the spruce trees that rise up from its eerie blueish color water almost like in a horror movie and therefore some refer to it as the Dead lake of Kazakhstan. Kaindy lake is located in the Chon-Urekty gorge, in the Tien Shan mountain system at an altitude of about 2000 meters above sea level and not very far from Almaty. The length of the lake Kaindy is only 400 meters and the depth is about 30 meters, making it significantly smaller and less deep than the Kolsai Lakes not far away, nearby the village of Saty. If you are visiting the area, make sure to visit both, Lake Kaindy and the Kolsai lakes. Lake Kaindy is also a part of the Kolsai lakes national park.
The Kaindy lake is very cold most of the time, having the highest temperature of only about 6 C during the summer (some still dare to walk in the part where the river meets the lake for great Instagram images). The chilly temperature also keeps the underwater trees preserved in the lake. Otherwise they most likely would have already fallen down. The water in the lake changes the color irregularly from greenish to extreme blue according to the light conditions meaning that the lake can look very different from different angles and during different weather conditions and seasons.
Even though the Kaindy lake is relatively close to Almaty and near the Kolsai lakes, it does not have as many tourists most likely due to it being harder to reach. From our perspective it is still the most interesting sight in the area with the eerie blueish color water and the tree branches partially visible from underwater.
If you happen to be traveling in Kazakhstan in the autumn time, you can also enjoy the amazing autumn colors of the trees near the lake reflecting from this peculiar colored lake! Kaindy lake is also accessible during late autumn and even early winter before the snow depth gets too high for cars and horses.
Kaindy Sunken Forest
Kaindy is a young lake that was formed in January 1911 after a major earthquake, which resulted in a mountain collapse, blocking the river and causing the newly formed small valley to be slowly filled with water and grasping trees and other plants in the cold water. The tops of fir trees are still pointing up from the surface of the lake. Well-preserved branches and needles can still be found in the water as can be seen in some of the youtube videos provided by the divers. It is possible to go for a dive and explore the magical underwater world of Kaindy Lake but it requires the diving certificate and equipment and most hardest of all, the permit from the local authorities that evidently can be received though.
At the entrance to the lake by the camp there is a post where a fee of about 750 tenge per person is charged as an entrance fee. Before reaching Kaindy Lake, there is another small pond where you can park and camp if you wish. There are also yurts where you can order a barbecue, drink tea and koumiss. Further to Lake Kaindy, you need to walk about 1 km or you can order a horse ride as well. Do not limit yourself to visiting only the main lake, go further to the observation deck, there is a beautiful view of the lake from above and further to the confluence of the river. You may reach the other side of the lake where is another picturesque spot, there you may also try the water temperature.
Dead lake of Kazakhstan
As mentioned, some call Kaindy the Kazakhstan dead lake and really Kaindy could be described as a dead lake due to the dead gray and somewhat ghostly trees. Some also say that the trees are growing here upside down, but it is simply not true. Otherwise, the lake being very cold throughout the year and the amount of nutrients in the glacier originated water, there is no big amount of vegetation or other life in the lake.
Nevertheless, in the underwater images and videos it can be seen that there is some algae growing from the tree branches and there are quite often birds swimming at the lake and eating so the lake could be considered very alive in our opinion.
Travel to Kaindy
Kaindy Lake is located at a distance of about 130 km east from Almaty, nearby the village of Saty, that can be accessed through the Kuldzhinsky highway. Public transportation to Saty village could be an option as well but knowing the road conditions and the conditions inside marshrutkas it can feel even a lot longer trip than it actually is. The road to Kaindy is about is about 300 km and takes from 4 to 6 hours.
The route to the lake starts about 700-800 m before reaching the village of Saty and turns towards the mountains on your left, just after you pass the small river coming from the lake which is joining the river Shilik on your right side. Compared to the nearby Kolsay lakes it is a lot more difficult to access the Kaindy lake. We would only suggest taking a ride from the local people using old Soviet UAZ or old small marshrutkas with good offroad capabilities.
The way up goes through very bad and narrow dirt road with big boulders and partially in a riverbed with considerable amount of water during high water periods. In some points the water level is a lot more higher than in the video below. Nevertheless, if you are driving a proper off road vehicle and have experience in crossing rivers, this about 10 km route can be a nice adventure.
There is a camp about 1 km north from the lake where the cars stop and from where you can rent a horse or walk a road/path among the forest to the lake. Kaindy is a bit far for a day trip from Almaty but there are several guest houses nearby the lake that will accomodate you with pleasure and provide meals as well.
Sights near Kaindy Lake
Page updated 5.11.2022