The amazing sunken forest of Lake Kaindy
Kazakhstan's scenic and eerie underwater natural wonder
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Lake Kaindy, sunk deep within Kolsai Lakes National Park in Kazakhstan, is a natural landmark that was created out of a disaster. In 1911 an earthquake struck the Tian Shan Mountains in what was then Russian Turkestan. Known as the Kebin earthquake, the tremors triggered avalanches and landslides that killed over 450 people, flattened more than 700 buildings in Almaty, and forever altered the geography of the region.
One particularly violent landslide sent limestone debris crashing into a gorge to form a natural dam. Over time the gorge was flooded by rainfall and mountain river water. The rising water levels created an attractive lake, subsequently named Lake Kaindy.
But what makes this lake especially appealing is its incredible sunken forest, a collection of Schrenk’s spruce that was submerged as the gorge filled up. Only the needle-like tips of these once mighty trees remain visible, and stand like the masts of stricken ghost ships.
Another draw is the lake's iridescent hues. The limestone deposits have left the water a bright palette of bluish-green, colors that positively glow in sunlight to leave Kaindy looking like a Caribbean lagoon rather than a lake set in a Central Asian mountain range.
A year-round destination, Kolsai Lakes National Park is noted for its water features. Besides Kaindy, visitors are regaled with other lakes, all spectacular in their remote setting and scenic beauty.
Outdoor enthusiasts and adventure tourists are drawn to this part of the world for its unspoiled splendor and relative accessibility (Lake Kaindy is only 129 km (80 miles) southeast of Almaty). Many choose to hike the region in summer, camping in traditional yurts set near some of the lakes. In winter, it's still possible to explore the area. This time of year sees Kaindy caked in ice, the sunken forest quiet and still in the watery gloom.
Browse the gallery and find out more about this enchanting natural wonder.
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