Lake Esik is at a height of 1760 m above sea level, set against steep conifer-covered slopes. The lake is but a fragment of the size it was before 7 July 1963, when a torrent of melt-water running down the Zharsai river, one of the two main inflows into the lake, destroyed the natural dam and caused much of the lake to be washed away. More than 200 houses further down the valley went with it. The Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the USSR, Kosygin (who was known in the West as Mr No), and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakh SSR, honoured Kunaev, were at the lake just before the tragedy struck. The far side of the lake is part of the Almaty State Nature Reserve, to which access is restricted.
As you arrive at the lake, some 300 m before the car park on its northern shore, note the face of Lenin painted onto a slab of rock on the right-hand side of the road.