Kanas is a nature reserve located in the Altay mountains of northern Xinjiang in China famed for its beautiful natural ecosystem formed by lakes, rivers, glaciers, forests, and grasslands. The highlight of the Nature Reserve is the Kanas Lake. Originating from the Kanas Glacier in Altay Mountain, the Kanas Lake is located 1,375 meters above the sea level and covers an area of 45.73 square kilometers. The long bean-shaped lake gives rise to the Kanas River which flows out for about 125 km through pristine, alpine forest before discharging into the Irtysh at Burqin Town. In autumn, the picturesque landscape bursts into a riot of colors with gold, red, blue and green.
Kanas, which means “beautiful, rich and mysterious” in Mongolian, might be the most alluring resort in northern Xinjiang. But many come here hoping to catch a glimpse of the Kanas Lake Monster, a mythical beast that countless tourists swore to have seen. Similar to Scotland's Loch Ness monster, stories of sightings have frequently appeared in Chinese media since the 1980s, when more visitors and settlers came to the area, bringing tons of journalists and conspiracy hounds even though researchers have dismissed the Chinese Nessie as a huge member of the salmon family.
Even without the lure of a monster, Kanas Lake is spectacularly beautiful with its vivid, minty green water surrounded by forested and snow-capped mountains. On one side of the lake, there is a 2000-meters long bank of dead trees that have accumulated over the years, carried by strong wind and waves. The huge dike of dead trees is a rare spectacle.
Kanas Lake is 140 kilometers away from Burqin County, and 246 kilometers 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 get there. You can also ride horses with local guides.
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