The Kanas is a magical and appealing place for all ages. It is an enchanting Mongolian name which means “beautiful and mysterious”.
The Kanas or Hanas, located in the territory of Burqin County, central part of the Altay mountains, is a state level natural reserve and the most distinctive natural landscape zone, with an area of 2000 sq kms.
It borders on Mongolia, Russia, and Kazakstan at longitude 86’54” east and latitude 48’75” – 49’11” north, like a feather tail stuck up at the northwest corner of rooster-shaped China’s domain (map).
In terms of science and humanity, the Kanas is China’s only extension of the Siberian Taiga Forest, the only Palaearctic Euro-Siberian wildlife distribution region in China, the only place of origin for the biggest tributary of the Ertix River in the river system of the Arctic Ocean, an important ecological area to check the northward movement of the Gurbantunggut Desert and also the only compact community for the Tuwa tribe, of Mongolian nationality.
The Kanas has unique geographic position, favorable natural conditions and strange biological composition. The region, as a rare typical area with European ecological system in China, shapes
a lot of peculiar and splendid biological and geographical phenomena, featured by undulating hills, continuous ice-capped peaks, criss-crossing ravines and gullies, dense forest and a great disparity elevation.
The Kanas, in many people’s mind, simply means the Kanas Lake, where above is the blue sky, dotted with elegant white cloud: below is a pool of green water, as limpid as a mirror: around are grand glaciers, pure white snow, lush forest, luxuriant pasture and gurgling streams, adding radiance and beauty to each other as if they were dissolved into one body. So one can not help feeling excited at such a marvelous sight.
Mr Qian Wei-chang, a famous Chinese scholar once spoke highly of the Kanas by saying “Here is the only Swiss landscape in Asia”.
The Kanas is situated in the cool temperature zone. The long winter season lasts seven months; spring and autumn link up without a clear summer all the year round and frost-free period reaches 80-108 days. From early June to Mid-october each year, the climate here is pleasant;
the moon is clear and the sun is sunny; the mean temperature is around 16°C, with relative humidity of 63% even in the hottest month of July.
Being located in the heartland of the Eurasian continent, far from sea, with rich heat and light resources, the place is endowed with the climatic feature of warm spring, autumn and mild winter. The rainfall is ample, with an annual precipitation of 1000mm or so as a result of the incessant invasion of the warm and humid air mass in the west air current from the Atlantic Ocean. The moisture passage creates the moistest green land in Xinjiang, where the content of oxygen is very high and quite suitable for recuperation or vacation. It is both a summer resort and tourist scenic spot.
The Kanas is located at the top part of the Altay mountains, in which the massifs are huge and cuts are sharp. Quite a few parallel block mountains, in tramontane basins and valleys join here. There exists a great disparity in varied topography and landforms. The climate, soil and living things are vertically distributed in sharp contour. It is the most complete vertical natural belt in the world and biological diversity shows its best here.
From the altitude of over 4000 meters down to the hilly lowlands are permanent snow-accumulated zone, alpine tundra with sparse moss plant, alpine meadow zone, sub-alpine meadow zone, dominated by alpine
bushwood plant, forest-pasture zone, including mountain coniferous forest region, mountain broad leafed and mountain meadow-pasture region alive with Siberian larch, Korean pine, spruce, interspersed with birch, elm and poplar, low-hilly land and mountain marshland as well as canyons
eroded and cut by rushing water, with vegetation of bushwood at the low-hilly pasture and aquatic vegetation. The landscapes vary with natural belts and all shades of hue become clear. One can not but praise such a natural wonder.
The Kanas Lake was born around 200,000 years ago. During the Quaternary Ice age, the relay lake was formed as a result of being scoured by fossil glacier and the effect the boulder clay blockaded the accumulated valley water. Shaping like a crescent moon, the lake is over 24 kms long, averages 2 kms wide, about 90 meters deep and the deepest place can reach 184 meters. As the deepest alpine fresh water lake in China, it has an area of 46sq.kms and water storage of about 4 billion cubic meters, whose surface is at the altitude of 1340 meters.
If you make trip to Kanas lake, you have to drive a car northward for 150 kms or so from the county seat of Burqin. The trip will take you across a desert, over the Odd Stone Ridge, into the Hliutan, Karakungay upland meadows; by way of valley forest zone, and scenic
spots as well, including the Crouching Dragon Bay, the Moon Bay, the Immortal Bay, the Maid Bay and the Kanas village before getting to the bank of the Kanas Lake.
The mountainous road is a major course here suitable for a cross-country car to drive on. At bank sits the Kanas Country Villa.
Kanas Lake is actually a section of broad river course rather than a lake. It originates from the broadest section of the Kanas River below the glacier of the Friendship Peak at the altitude of 4,374 meters. One must climb up in order to get a better view of its slender and crescent shape.
Looking around, in the distance is an expanse of white ice-peaks, clothed in silver. Nearby are pure white mist-like streamers twining the mountains; mixed coniferous and broad-leafed forests here and there in the mountains link up with mountain meadows. When autumn comes, on
the mountain slope along the bank, golden coniferous larch, yellow-turned-red birch leaves and verdant spruce, whose red leaves look like a blaze under the dazzling sunlight, seem to be coated with a layer of golden colour on all the mountains and are reflected in the green water, thus forming a harmony of cool and warm colours and an artistic conception.
What’s more, it is rather a gorgeous world, whose landscape of lake and mountain can be called “Human’s fairy land”.
If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our Asia Insiders page.