Lake Kaindy – Kazakhstan’s Sunken Forrest

21 January 2013

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Lake Kaindy is situated near the village of Saty in the Kungey Alatau Mountains (a range in the North Tien-Shan) in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan.

There wasn’t always a lake there: the trunks of pine trees jutting out of the water provide testimony to that.

So what happened here?

The lake is only 400 meters length but in some places it is over thirty meters deep.  It was formed as a result of the massive 1911 Kebin earthquake.  There was a huge landslide which blocked the gorge and a natural dam was formed – and endured.  As the waters rose and it submerged the Schrenk's Spruce (the place means lots of spruce) growing in the area.

Above the water all that can be seen are the huge trunks.  Below, however, it is a different story.  This is 2000 meters above sea level and the water is so cold that it has effectively preserved the spruces’ branches below the water line.

Image Credit Flickr User Zhirayr Nersessian
The water itself is often of a somewhat kryptonite hue.  This strange coloration is caused by lime and other mineral deposits which have been seeped in to the water since the lake’s creation just over a century ago. Yet once you get closer to the lake the water appears crystal clear – you can sometimes even see the trout which were introduced in to the lake in the 1930s.

Image Credit Flickr User Nuggems
The site is as popular for diving as it is for sight-seeing. Each year scores of Kazakhstani and Russian divers brave the freezing temperatures to swim amongst the branches of the trees.   Water always attracts and this is a hugely popular place in the largest land-locked nation in the world.

Image Credit Flickr User Nuggems
The lake is a mere 130 kilometers away from Kazakhstan’s second city, Almaty (which translates as the city of apple trees), which has a population of 1.5 million and is the country’s economic and cultural heart.  Mere because this is the 9th largest country in the world and this sort of distance is considered small by Kazakhstan’s 16 million citizens.  Almaty was the capital city until Astana was given the title in 1997 (and given how that place has been transformed the locals might consider themselves lucky to avoid all the construction work!). 

Image Credit Flickr User Zhirayr Nersessian
Yet even though the lake is only a short distance from bustling Almaty, to get to it you would have to be prepared to off-road on some very rugged terrain for the last 15 kilometers away from the village of Saty.  Yet for those who make the journey the experience is, it seems, always worth it.

Image Credit Flickr User Zhirayr Nersessian
Kuriositas would like to thanks Flickr Users Zhirayr Nersessian and Nuggems for their kind permission to use their photographs here. Copyright remains with the photographers. Please visit their photostreams by clicking the link on their names.

Image Credit Flickr User Zhirayr Nersessian

First Image Credit Wikimedia



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