The Kanas Lake is located in the northern Bu'erjin County of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and 150 kilometers to the county town. Kanas in Mongolian means lake in canyon. Nestled in the deep forests and mountains of Altay, the lake is 1,374 meters above sea level and covers an area of 45.73 square kilometers with the deepest point of 188.5 meters.
Embraced by snow-capped mountains, the Kanas Lake is covered with dense forests and is the only area where animals and plants of South Siberia species can be found in China. A total number of 798 kinds of trees have been found in the area, including some rare species such as larch, red pine, spruce, fir, and birch. The lake also has 39 species of beasts, 117 species of birds, 4 species of amphibious animals, 7 species of fish, and more than 300 species of insects.
The Kanas Lake has several great sights
·Monster in the Lake
Legend has it that huge lake monsters live in the deep water of the lake and often has dragged horses and camels drinking along the lake into the water before swallowing them. It is said that the monster is actually a kind of rare fish named Hucho taimen in Chinese, also called huge red fish, with the longest one measuring up to over 10 meters.
·Buddha Halo Shining over Sea of Clouds
After heavy rains in the early morning, one can appreciate the sunrise while standing in the Pavilion for Viewing Fish on the top of a peak. During sunrises, clouds and mist curl high up over the Kanas Lake. Sometimes, one can encounter the great spectacle of Buddha Halo, like that of Emei Mountain, with reflections of the pavilion and human figures in the halo.
·Great Spectacle of Color-changing Lake
The Kanas Lake is famous for its changing colors. The color of the water changes several times in a day, from dark green to sky blue, then to gray and white.
·Thousand-meter Long Bank with Withered Trees
On the lakeside are lots of withered trees whose branches are interlocked. Carried by strong wind or waves into the lake, these dead trees strangely flow against the current to the lake's north end and pile up in the upper reaches. With the elapse of time, a thousand-meter-long dike of dead trees came into being, forming a rare spectacle.
·The Tuwa Tribe
A Mongolian tribe called Tuwa lives on the south bank of the Kanas Lake. Believing in Lamaism, it is a valiant ethic minority with a long history. Tuwa people speak Turkish, resembling the language of Kazakh, and live on hunting and graze. They also have a special folk custom.
The Tuwa people build their houses with pine wood, whose four walls are stacked up with logs, with ceiling floor and slant pointed roof suitable for frequent rain and snow arrounding in mountainous area. When flowers bloom in warm spring, they drive their cattle and sheep to the summer pasture on the top of a mountain. In late autumn, they drive their stocks down the hills and live in the log cabins for a long winter.
They live mainly on dairy products, meat and flour, such as: beef, sheep, milk, cheese, dried yogurt, sour milk, butter, milky tea and milky wine etc.
Riddle of the Kanas Lake Monster
Over a thousand years, a legend has prevailed in Kanas. It is said that some animals drinking along the lake, like horses and cows, have been swallowed by the "lake monster" over time. Sometimes even some people boating in the lake have disappeared mysteriously.
In 2003, some local officials, who inspected the security of the lake, saw two huge subjects flying out of the water as high as 20 meters, before quickly diving back into the water. Moreover, some tourists have also seen a similar phenomenon.
Does the Kanas Lake monster, long veiled in secrecy, really exist?
Was the big fish that people saw really the so-called monster in Kanas Lake?
In order to explore this question, we must first look at the history surrounding the myth of the Kanas Lake monster.
Besides Kanas Lake, Wolong Bay (Crouching Dragon Bay) and Moon Bay are also attractions alluring many visitors and photographers. Virgin forests and flowery grasslands combined with clear green water make the whole area a paradise.
1 . Kanas Village
The Kanas Continental Villas of Xinjiang Western International Travel Service is located the lakeside. There are nice dining-rooms, groggeries, ballrooms hall and marketplaces, etc.
2. Crouching Dragon Bay
The Crouching Dragon Bay, on the way coming close to the Kanas Lake, along the river the peaks stand erect, forest become lush and dense. canyons become deep and rivers become swift. After crossing a wooden bridge, one will
see a stretch of pure betula pendula, whose trunks are tall and straight, barks are white, branches are drooping gracefully, with clear-cut aspect, being known as A Maid in Forest. After the birch forest, the valley suddenly become broad, wjth the Crouching Dragon Bay ahead, shaping like a cauldron, called Cauldron-bottom Lake by the local people. Some tourists, on getting here, will think it is the Kanas Lake. However,they wont know the truth until lingering on with no thought of leaving for half a day and then, they simply call it Little Kanas Lake. The Crouching Dragon Bay has a water area of about 90,000 sq meters. The Kanas River slowly flows by, its color is pure blue and clean and soft waves are floating, with the scenery of rivers and mountains behind being reflected on the water. The ait in the bay looks like a giant crouching bay. It is said that long, long ago, a giant dragon once played with water by mounting the clouds and riding the mist. All of sudden, the weather changed drastically, the ice sealed and snow froze in a moment, for which the giant dragon was frozen stiff here, thus being named the Crouching Dragon Bay. Here is an ideal place for cultivation of fish with its long bay and slow flow, in which someone once caught a 2 meter-long Big Red Fish.
3 . Moon Bay
Taking a trip northward 1 kilometer from the Crouching Dragon Bay, one can overlook the Moon Bay on the mountain-encircling road. The bay is a section of Z-shape river course, whose serene, blackish-green water looks like a "Crescent".
At sight of this scene, one can feel the magical creation of great nature featured by an evening crescent compared to faint and quiet dreamland.
In the crescent like section sits a foot-shape isle, which is said to be a foot-print left by the goddess of the moon, having secretly eaten the glossy dragon while flying back to the moon in a hurry. The indigenes also call it "Crescent Lake" or "Foot-bottom Lake".
There are also many other attractions in the Kanas Nature Reserve. Yaze Lake (Duck Swamp Lake), Double Lake, White Lake and Friendship Peak Glacier are also amazing. Visitors can fully enjoy the harmony of nature and human as well as the splendid scenery of the Kanas Nature Reserve.
Because of the long winter in Kanas, the best time to visit is from June to October.
As Kanas is located along the border of China, you have to apply for a Frontier Permit for Burqin County.
How to Get There:
Kanas Lake is 140 kilometers (about 87 miles) away from Burqin County, and 246 kilometers (about 153 miles) away from Altay City. You can take a plane to Altay City or take a coach to Burqin County at Urumqi, and then rent a motorcar to Kanas. You can also ride horses with local guides.
If you want to spend the night around Kanas Lake, you can live with local families or in tents. You can also stay in Kanas Shanzhuang where you will find a greater variety of services and accommodation.
It is recommended that you stay with local families in a Hemu Village if you want to experience a taste of the 'old days'.
Frontier Permit: CNY 50/Person
Kanas Lake: CNY 150 (May 1-Oct.15); CNY 80 (Oct.16-next Apr. 30)
Hemu Village: CNY 60
Regional Bus: CNY 80