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PHOTO TOUR: DOBAN-NOR (11 DAYS)
Tour duration
11 DAYS
Tour route
Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)

The route of this tour includes unexplored ravines and valleys in the mountains that are rarely visited by tourists as well as a beautiful enigmatic lake. You will surely come back if you visit the places just once. 

Route: Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)

Season: June to October

Recommended period: June and September

The first item on the agenda is Tekes Gorge. The Tekes River is the main source of the region's major river, the Ili. The head of the Tekes River lies at 3535 m above sea level at the foot of the main group of the Khan Tengri Mountains. The banks of the Tekes River and its tributaries are covered in shrubs and patches of birch and osier groves. Soil is very fertile in the lower valley, and pastures and meadows along the river are bountiful. The whole Tekes Valley is picturesque, each turn of the gorge being a display of wide beauty that will surprise you in a pleasant way. Our next destination is Kokpak Gorge. The gorge has many blind branches that do not look like dead ends and appear very beautiful. It is no less picturesque than Tekes Gorge but longer. It is quite popular among local shepherds and gatherers from nearby villages. However, the main attraction on the route is Lake Tuzkol, which is a dead salty lake. Salt level in the lake varies depending on the time of year and can be as high as 300 g/L. Compare: the concentration of salt in the Dead Sea is about 340 to 350 g/L. Remarkably, no rivers mouth into the salt. It is arheic. Locals say it is fed by underground mineral springs, so the mud in it has healing properties. Back when Mongols inhabited the area, the lake was called Doban-Nor. In means Windy Lake in Mongolian. The lake offers a panoramic view of the 7000 m Khan Tengri Peak on a sunny day. The next destination is the highlands of the Ketmen. The Ketmen Range divides two valleys. The highest points of it overlooks Khan Tengri, Jengish Chokusu and other breathtaking peaks of the northern Tian Shan. It was home to a Tengrist community for ages. 

TOUR SUMMARY

Day 1. Almaty—Tekes Valley

Group gathering at 07:00 a.m. Departure from Almaty. Lunch at a cafe on the way or a picnic. Arriving at the overnight site on the bank of the Tekes River. Putting up a camp, walking until sunset, and photo shooting. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp by the river.

Kilometers to be driven: about 350

Days 2 to 3 The Tekes Valley

Early rise at 04:30 to take sunrise photos. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Free time. Lunch in the camp. Walking from lunch to sunset and taking photos in the valley. Returning to the camp for dinner and preparing for the next day. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp located at about 2000 m above sea level. 

Total walking distance: about 2 to 8 km per day.

Day 4. Tekes River—Tekes Falls 

Early rise at 04:30 to take sunrise photos. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing. Moving to the waterfall in the upper reaches of the river. Putting up a camp. Lunch. Moveing to the pass to take panoramic photos. Returning to the camp for dinner and preparing for the next day. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp located at about 2000 m above sea level. 

Day 5. Tekes Falls—Lake Karakol

Rise at 08:00. Breakfast and packing. Moving to Lake Karakol. Arriving at the overnight site and putting up a camp. Lunch, walks around the lake. Ascending the mountain to take photos of Khan Tengri Peak. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time and preparation for the next day. Optional night sky photo shooting. An overnight stay in a tent camp located at about 3200 m above sea level.  

Day 6. Lake Karakol—Kokpak Gorge  

Early rise at 04:30 to take photos of the sun rising above the lake. A walk in the mountains. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing and moving to Kokpak Gorge after breakfast. Lunch upon arrival. Putting up a camp. A walk in the nearby. Dinner. Free time and preparation for the next day. An overnight stay in a tent camp located at about 2200 m above sea level.  

Day 7. Kokpak Gorge—Lake Tuzkol

Early rise at 04:30 to take sunrise photos in the mountains. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing and moving to Lake Tuzkol. Lunch upon arrival. Putting up a camp. Lunch. A walk by the lake after lunch, sunset photo shooting. Returning to the camp. Dinner and preparation for the next day. Free time. Optional night sky photo shooting. An overnight in a tent camp near Lake Tuzkol. 

Days 8 to 9. Lake Tuzkol

Rise at 04:00 and start for the sunrise shooting site. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Rest until lunch. Lunch in the camp. Walking from lunch to sunset. Meeting the sunset on a point overlooking Khan Tengri. Returning to the camp for dinner and preparing for the next day. Free time. An overnight in a tent camp near Lake Tuzkol. 

Day 10. Lake Tuzkol—Ketmen Pass

Rise at 04:00 and start for the sunrise shooting site. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Rest until lunch. Lunch, packing and moving to the Ketmen Pass. Putting up a tent upon arrival. Meeting the sunset on the pass overlooking Khan Tengri Peak. Descending to the camp. Dinner and preparation for the next day. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp on the Ketmen Pass at about 3000 m above sea level.

Day 11. Ketmen Pass—Almaty

Rise, breakfast, and packing. Departure for Almaty. Lunch on the way. Arriving in Almaty about 6 p.m.

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