Kanas Lake Nature Reserve


Stunning Kanas Lake (哈纳斯湖, Hānàsī Hú) is a long finger of water surrounded by soaring mountain peaks nestled in the southernmost reaches of the Siberian taiga ecosystem, pinched in between Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan. Most of the local inhabitants are Kazakh or Tuvan, though Chinese tourists (and the occasional foreigner) descend on the place in droves during the summer months.

Many visitors come hoping for a cameo by the Kanas Lake Monster, China’s Nessie, who has long figured in stories around yurt campfires to scare the kids. She appears every year or two, bringing loads of journalists and conspiracy hounds.

The whole area is only easily accessible from April to October, with ice and snow making transport difficult at other times. The gorgeous autumn colours peak around mid-September.