The Kanas Lake is located in the heart of the Kanas Nature Reserve,120 kilometers away from Buerjin County - Xinjiang 's Altai Region. Its name, Kanas, is a Mongolian word that means“a beautiful and mysterious place". About 1,375 meters above sea level,25 kilometers long and 1.6-29 kilometers wide, the crescent-shaped alpine lake takes up an area of 37.7 square kilometers. It reaches about 188.5 meters at the deepest point, making it the deepest alpine freshwater lake in China, and offering good quality water.
Under the blue sky and the fluffy white clouds, the lake water is as limpid as a mirror decorated with the reflections of the snow-capped mountains and dense forests. A notable feature of the lake is that the water changes its color with the changing of the seasons and weather Within a single day, the water's color may turn from green to blue.gray or white.
Kanas Lake was formed through severe glacial erosion by glaciers. The lake is estimated to be 200,000 years old and is China's deepest fresh water lake (184 meters in one spot). Kanas Lake Comprehensive Natural Reserve, a golden zone bordering four countries of Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and China, is the only drainage basin of the Arctic Ocean in China. In Xinjiang, the reserve, minimally influenced by mankind, preserves the completeness of a primitive state with the largest number of tree species of coniferous forest and wildlife species.
Besides, the famous legends about "Kanas Monster" , the "Emei Spectacle”, which lights up the clouds after a morning rain, adds another air of mystery to the lake. The practices of the Tuwa Tribe and Altai Mountain rock-paintings have been attracting explorers and travelers to this area for decades.
The Kanas Lake is hidden deeply at the base of the Friendship Peak of the Altai Mountain in Xinjiang.On a map of China, which shows the country in the shape of a rooster, the lake is located at the tip of the rooster's tail.Most people will be overwhelmed by the lake's beauty at first sight.
The Kanas Lake used to be part of the Kanas River. Later, as a result of glacier movements, the river course was blocked and the lake came into being.The lake is surrounded by high mountains,whose tops are coated by snow but slopes are covered by dense forests and colorful wild flowers.
The water in the Kanas Lake presents a spectrum of colors along with the changing weather and seasons.Sometimes it is pure blue or emerald green, and other times turquoise blue or white and gray.On some occasions the lake even shows a mixture of multiple colors at the same time.Therefore, the lake is reputed as a “color-changing lake."
The lake looks more charming and mysterious at dawn and dusk.
Before daybreak, the lake reflects light clouds in thesky, while the surrounding mountains are all shrouded in mist and cannot be seen at all. The silver-white surface of the lake is extremely peaceful without the slightest ripple. The Kanas Lake at this moment is still “in a sound sleep." Sometimes a couple of early-rising birds fly across the lake, their shadows reflecting in the water so clearly that it looks as though four birds are flying together.
The landscape of the lake at dusk is quite different from that in the early morning. Even in a mid-summer month like June, the night temperature here will drop below 10 degrees Celsius. Light snow starts to fall,but only on the mountainside, never falling into the lake. People by the lake can see clearly the whole process of a forest turning white amidst the light snow. When evening falls, the surface of the lake gradually turns dark blue, while a light fog slowly rises above the lake and gradually merges into the shades of the night.
Fish Watching Pavilion
Kanas Lake Fish Watching Pavilion was built on the top of Harakat (In Mongolian means Camel Peak) at an altitude of 2030 meters. It is more than 600 meters away from the lake. Because it is in the best position to observe the "lake monster", it is named Fish Watching Pavilion.
There are two ways to reach the fishing pavilion:
one is to take a bus at the back of the mountain to the mountainside; the other is to climb up the mountain on foot via the stone steps built for climbers at the lake outlet. The "fish watching Pavilion" on the west side of the lake can view the overall beauty of Kanas lake. One of them can have a bird's eye view of Kanas lake, and 3/4 of the lake has a panoramic view.
Tuva Village in Kanas
The Kanas village is close to the Kanas Lake.The local villagers are Tuva people.It is said that Tuva people are offspring of the old,weak, sick and disabled soldiers left by Genghis khan when he Ied his troops to attack the West.Tuva people have kept their unique custom and language.Their language falls into the Turkic language group of the Altaic language family and is closely related to the Kazak language.They hold their primitive costume, focusing on Pasturing, fishing and collecting.Meanwhile they still keep worshiping the heaven, water and mountains.The Kanas Lake and Tuwa people, in a harmonious union, constitute a unique view and folk culture at Kanas.
The Legend of Kanas Lake Monster
Besides the extremely beautiful scenery, the Kanas Lake boasts another major attraction, the legendary "lake monster."The story of the “lake monster” can be traced back to long ago, as some people claimed that they had accidentally seen a strange animal reveal its head from the water at dusk or daybreak. Judging from the scale of the splashes of the water, the people claimed that this animal had a gigantic body-probably 10 meters long. The local herdsmen also provided additional evidence about the existence of the “lake monster." They claimed that some oxen and horses went missing while drinking from the lake, and afterwards they could only find random hoofprints of the animals by the lake. They also ruled out the possibility of the animals slipping down and falling into the lake themselves, as the ground on the lakeside was solid.
Over the past years several teams of explorers have come to the lake in an attempt to reveal the truth about the “lake monster.” They dove into the lake, set up traps or lay baits, but all efforts ended in vain. However, they did find a huge predatory fish-the giant red fish-in the lake, and suspected that it might be the alleged “lake monster." With the official name of taimen, the giant red fish shows a red-brown color in its breeding season and is aggressive by nature. Some people believe that there might be some extremely large taimen living in the Kanas Lake, which have a body length of more than 10 meters and therefore are large and strong enough to drag away and swallow down oxen and horses, thus triggering the tales of the legendary “lake monster."
Animals and Plants
Embraced by snow-capped mountains, the Kanas Lake area is covered with dense forests and is the only region where animals and plants of South Siberia species can be found in China. There are 798 kinds of plants,of which 30 kinds are rare plants,34 kinds of animals,75kinds of birds.124 kinds of insects,8 kinds of fishes and 7 kinds of amphibians.The Kanas Nature Reserve is the home of Siberian larches, spruces,firs and birches,snow leopard, stone marten, silver foxes and Altai frogs.More over, Kanas is also a treasure for scientific research.
A glorious stretch of primeval forest rings the lake, and the river which feeds it. Larch, red pine, spruce and birch, the classic continental trees still grow in profusion here, where they make a home for all manner of noble creature too self-respecting to linger near human settlements.
A thousand plant species, three hundred kinds of animals and a hundred of birds, big numbers that do little justice to an area of teeming biodiversity unique for being the southwest tail of the Siberian taiga.
Tourists are fascinated by the enchanting primitive beauty of its undulating mountains,crisscrossing ravines and gullies (water-made ravines),luxurious forests and grasslands, clear waters, and fresh air. Hemu River, opposite to the Kanas Lake, is surrounded by mountains and birches.Remaining its primitive beauty, the river becomes a hot scenic spot in recent years.
Warm Tips for Kanas Tourism
1. The temperature difference between day and night in Kanas area is very large. The temperature at sunrise in the morning is about - 5 C, and it can reach 27 C when sunshine is strong at noon. When you watch the sunrise, you must wear down clothes, sweaters, etc. Because of the strong ultraviolet radiation and dry climate in Xinjiang, it is strongly recommended to prepare enough sunscreen and pay attention to moisturizing.
2. The temperature difference between day and night in summer and the region is very large, and the climate is dry in Xinjiang. Drink plenty of water, wear caps, and sunscreen; even in midsummer weather, pants and jackets must be prepared. In autumn and winter, you need to bring cold-proof clothes, especially in Kanas, Narati, Swan Lake and other places. Wind and snow may occur at any time. If you are a photographer, you need to be prepared for the cold weather in advance.