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PHOTO TOUR: TABAN KARAGAI (10 DAYS)
Tour duration
10 DAYS
Tour route
Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)

A photo expedition to Paradise under the Sky, the Taban Karagai Plateau located in the Trans-Ili Alatau Mountains, where the diversity of wildlife, its purity and beauty enchant even experienced travelers.

Route: Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)

Season: June to October

Recommended period: June

The Taban Karagai Plateau is located in the southeastern part of the Trans-Ili Alatau Range and in fact completes it. Such places are commonly referred to as divides. The plateau divides two river valleys, the Chilik Valley and the Zhenishke River. The place is often called Paradise under the Sky. Its highest point is 3200 m above sea level. It is clear that the upper part of the plateau used to be covered with eternal ice a long time ago. The glaciers eventually melted, leaving a lot of giant rocks and stone roadblocks that complete the mild slopes with herds of horses and flocks of sheep pasturing on them. Indeed, it offers a spacious pasturing ground: the plateau is about 50 km long and up to 20 km wide. A solid carpet of flowers covers the plateau in summer. Edelweisses grow to be up to 50 cm high here and produce flowers the size of a human hand. When dusk comes, mountain chill relieves the heat of the day, and the starry sky looks so close that you might touch the stars if you stand on a rock. Pretty playful weasels come out to bask in the sun. There is more of them than one can count. The diversity of wildlife, its purity and beauty enchant even experienced travelers. You can admire the view of the vast Taban Karagai for hours.

TOUR SUMMARY

Day 1. Almaty—Taban Karagai Plateau

Group gathering at 07:00 a.m. Departure from Almaty. Lunch at a cafe on the way. Arriving at the overnight place near a spruce forest. 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 near a spruce forest located at about 2000 m above sea level.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 250.

Day 2. Taban Karagay Plateau, Stone Garden

Early rise at 06:00 to take sunrise photos. Returning to the camp for breakfast. After breakfast we pack and drive to the Stone Garden, which is the highest point of the plateau. We make a few stops to take photos and have lunch (a picnic) on the way. Arriving at the Stone Garden and putting up a camp. Walking until sunset and photo shooting. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time and optional night photo shooting. An overnight stay in a tent camp located at about 3200 m above sea level. 

Kilometers to be driven: about 20 km.

Days 3 to 4. Taban Karagay Plateau, Stone Garden

Early rise at 06:00 to take sunrise photos. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Free time after breakfast. Walking in the Stone Garden, taking photos. Lunch in the camp. Moving to the sunset photo shooting location after lunch. Returning to the camp for dinner and preparing for the next day. Free time and optional night sky photo shooting. An overnight stay in a tent camp located at about 3200 m above sea level. 

Total walking distance: about 5 km.

Day 5. Stone Garden—Akkiya Pass 

Early rise at 06:00 to take photos of the sun rising above the Taban Karagai Plateau. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing and moving to the Akkiya Pass after breakfast. Arriving at the pass, putting up a camp, and lunch. After lunch, walking until sunset and taking photos of the sun setting over the Chilik Valley. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp located at about 2900 m above sea level.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 10 km.

Day 6. Akkiya Pass—Chilik Valley 

Early rise at 06:00 to take sunrise photos in the Chilik Valley. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing and moving to the Chilik Valley after breakfast. Descending into the valley and choosing an upstream overnight place. Lunch on the way (picnic). Arriving at the overnight site and putting up a camp. Dinner. Free time and preparation for the next day. An overnight stay in a tent camp by the Chilik River at about 2300 m above sea level.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 25 to 50 km.

Days 7 to 8. The Chilik Valley 

Early rise at 06:00 to take sunrise photos in the valley. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Trekking in the valley after breakfast. Lunch during trekking (a picnic). Returning to the camp after sunset for dinner. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp by the Chilik River at about 2300 m above sea level.  

Total walking distance: about 14 km.

Day 9. Chilik ValleyTaban Karagay Plateau

Early rise at 06:00 to take sunrise photos in the valley. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing and driving towards the Saty Pass with a few stops to take photos. Lunch on the way (picnic). Arriving at the overnight site, putting up a camp, walking, and sunset photo shooting. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time. Optional night sky photo shooting. An overnight stay in a tent camp located at about 2300 m above sea level.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 60

Day 10. Taban Karagay Plateau—Almaty

Early rise at 06:00 to take sunrise photos in the valley. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing and setting off for Almaty. Lunch at a cafe on the way. Arriving in Almaty at about 7 p.m.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 220

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