In Mongolian, Kanas means ''rich and beautiful, mysterious and enigmatic'', and visitors to Kanas Nature Reserve have no problem figuring out why! The park shares borders with Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. The unique topography has been formed over millions of years by glacial flow and the force of the local rivers. The park encompasses Wolong Bay (Crouching Dragon Bay) Moon Bay, Yaze Lake (Duck Swamp Lake), Double Lake, White Lake and Friendship Peak Glacier, untouched forest and fragrant pastures. The wildlife in this area is as diverse as the landscape, ranging from cows and sheep to snowcocks and red deer.
The Tuva Mongols who live in Hemu Village are said to be direct descendents of Genghis Khan. These Buddhist people live in traditional houses half-buried into the ground as protection against winter cold. Their festivals are lively and colorful times, when visitors are welcomed to share ancient customs with the people of the tribe.
Kanas Lake is the highlight of any visit to the nature reserve. Cool water from Kanas Glacier winds its way 125 kilometers through mountains until it pools at this spectacular spot on the Kanas River. The color of the water varies a great deal according to the season, the weather and the depth of the water: sometimes it appears a deep sky blue, at others it' s a lush forest green, but sometimes it can appear as white as milk. The lake covers 4,570 hectares (11,293 acres) so the lakeside is vast. There are six distinct bays on the river each of which has its own mythology.
The first bay hold a huge rock which has been eroded by glaciers into the shape of a sheep looking peacefully across Kanas Lake. The second bay is said to be home to the Kanas Lake Monster. The monster has been part of local myth for centuries and is still being spotted by eagle-eyed visitors, some of whom go so far as to accuse the shy creature of dragging animals into the lake to devour them beneath the water. This is the deepest part of the lake, so like his cousin in Loch Ness, the Kanas Lake Monster may evade capture for a long time.
The third, fourth and fifth bays are perfect for nature lovers, who can find nature platforms, abundant birdlife and a calm, pretty island thickly planted with trees. The sixth bay has its own unexplained mystery. A 2-kilometer bank of dead trees has partially blocked the river despite there being no obvious reason for them not to just float away. It is said to be proof that not even the trees can bear to leave Kanas Lake. Structures around the lake include the Fish-Watching Pavilion, from which almost the whole lake can be seen.
The best time to visit is from June to October before the cold winter begins.
Because of Kanas Nature Reserve' s position along the border of China, visitors should apply for a Burqin County Frontier Permit.