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PHOTO TOUR: VALLEY OF CASTLES (10 DAYS)
Tour duration
10 DAYS
Tour route
Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)

A photo tour to the public Sharyn National Park, which offers not only a diversity of natural objects but a historical and cultural heritage.

Route: Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)

Season: January to December

Recommended period: April to June and September to November

Sharyn State National Natural Park is a stripe of pidmont valleys and intermountain troughs that flanges the Sharyn River, the largest tributary of the Ili River in Kazakhstan. The Sharyn Valley is a unique place where remnants of prehistoric plants and animals have been preserved. In the lower reaches of the Sharyn and its tributary, the Temirlik, grows the relict Fraxinus sogdiana species. Legend has it that the winged Fraxinus sogdiana seeds were brought by the wind to this Valley of Yurts 5 million years ago. Millions of years have passed, the mountains and climate have changes, the ancient era has ended, and mammoths have ceased to exist. But the ash-tree remains. The ash grove became an official natural landmark in 1964. Four trees approximately of the same age are fenced in the grove. It is, in a way, an open-air museum. Botanists believe the trees to be over a thousand years old. The Sharyn Canyon is a natural complex unparalleled not only in Kazakhstan but across the world. It dates back to the Paleogene and resembles the Grand Canyon, Colorado, US, though is smaller. Its steep slopes are 150 to 300 m tall. The relief is impressively rugged with a thick, somewhat messy network of ravines and combes. Wind and water have created the picturesque Valley of Castles that surrounds you with sophisticated towers of sedimentary rocks. The valley is over 2 km long and 20 to 80 m wide. Nature has been working on the unique architecture for millions of years. Indeed, it took its tome to create truly colossal castles. You can spend hours walking among the fantastic towers and pillars, admiring nature's imagination. 

TOUR SUMMARY

Day 1. Almaty—Valley of Castles

Group gathering at 07:00 a.m. Departure from Almaty. Several stips and lunch at a cafe on the way. Arriving in the Valley of Castles Canyon, putting up a tent, walking and photo shooting. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time. Optional night photo shooting. An overnight stay in a tent camp in the national park.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 200

Days 2 to 3 The Valley of Castles

Early rise at 05:30 to take sunrise photos in the canyon. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Free time. Lunch in the camp. Moving to the photo shooting location to take photos of the sun setting above the canyon towards the evening. Returning to the camp for dinner and preparing for the next day. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp in the national park.  

Total walking distance: 5 to 7 km

Day 4. Valley of Castles—Temirlik Canyon

Early rise at 05:30 to take sunrise photos in the canyon. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing and driving to the Temirlik Canyon with several stops on the way. Arriving at the overnight site, putting up a camp, and having lunch. Walking to the cascade downstream after lunch. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time. Optional night photo shooting. An overnight stay in a tent camp by the Temirlik River.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 70. Walking distance: 4 to 5 km

Days 5 to 6. The Temirlik Canyon

Early rise at 05:30 to take photos of the sun rising above the canyon. Returning to the camp for breakfast, then free time and walks in the canyons. Lunch in the camp. Walking in the canyon until sunset. Returning to the camp for dinner. Preparing for the next day and free time. Optional night sky photo shooting. An overnight stay in a tent camp by the Temirlik River.  

Total walking distance: 10 to 15 km

Day 7. Temirlik Canyon—Unnamed Sharyn Canyon

Early rise at 7 a.m. Breakfast, packing, and driving to the unnamed canyon with a few stops on the way. Arriving at the overnight site and putting up a camp. Lunch. After lunch, walking until sunset and photo shooting. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time. Optional night photo shooting. An overnight stay in a tent camp located in the unnamed canyon.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 50. Walking distance: 5 to 7 km

Day 8. Unnamed Sharyn Canyon

Early rise at 05:30 to take sunrise photos in the canyon. Returning to the camp for breakfast. After breakfast, a walk in the canyon and photo shooting. Lunch in the camp. Walking, then moving to the shooting point to take photos of the sun setting above the canyon. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp located in the unnamed canyon.  

Walking distance: 10 to 12 km

Day 9. Unnamed Sharyn Canyon—Ulken-Bogutty Mountains

Early rise at 05:30 to take sunrise photos in the canyon. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing. Driving to the Ulken-Bogutty Mountains Lunch at a cafe on the way. Arriving at the overnight site and putting up a camp. Walking and photo shooting until sunset. Returning to the camp for dinner. Free time. An overnight stay in a tent camp located near a red canyon in the Ulken-Bogutty Mountains.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 120. Walking distance: about 5 km

Day 10. Ulken-Bogutty Mountains—Almaty

Early rise at 05:30 to take sunrise photos. Returning to the camp for breakfast. Packing. Driving to Almaty with lunch at a cafe on the way. Arriving in the city at about 6 p.m.  

Kilometers to be driven: about 150

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