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TREKKING TO THE HEAD OF THE KORA RIVER (9 DAYS)
Tour duration
9 DAYS
Tour route
The Dzungarian Alatau (Almaty Region, Kazakhstan)

A 7 days' tours of medium difficulty to the Dzungarian Alatau with an elevation of 1800 to 3400 meter above sea level, including Kora Gorge, the Tronov, Bezsonov, and Sapozhnikov Glaciers, and the Olga Pass.

Route: The Dzungarian Alatau (Almaty Region, Kazakhstan)
Season: June to October
Recommended period: August to September
Route difficulty: average difficulty trekking
Elevation: 2000 to 3400 m above sea level.

TOUR SUMMARY

Day 1. Almaty—Taldykorgan—Taubulak

Departing from Almaty at 7:00. Arriving in Taldykorgan at 10:00. Visiting the Local History Museum of the Almaty Region. Lunch. Moving to the Taubulak Eco Camping Ground (132 km, of which 61 are in the mountains). The 6 hours' trip includes 2 to 3 stops (10 to 15 min) at unique sites of the Dzungarian Alatau. Arriving at the Taubulak Eco Camping at 5 p.m. Checking in and resting. Dinner, free time, and preparation for the start. Overnight at the Taubulak Eco Camping. 

The mountains of the Dzungarian Alatau form the natural border with the People's Republic of China and have a total length of 400 km. Here lies one of the most picturesque gorges in Semirechye, the 90 km long Korinskoye Gorge. The Kora River on its bottom is born high in the mountains, in the ancient glacial kingdom. In winter and early spring, its water is calm and clear. However, when the snow on the slopes begin to melt, the river becomes turbid and merciless. It carries enormous rocks effortlessly and breaks century-old tree trunks like matches. The road that winds along the river is only accessible to good off-roaders, so everybody who takes it will be impressed. All you can see around is woods. Spruce and fir trees intertwine with lace-like green birch foliage, and a motley carpet of flowers covers the meadows. As the road gets higher, nature becomes harsher: the cheerful birch groves give way to high plateaus with dozens of big and small waterfalls tumbling down the magnificent rocks. Since it has been a restricted access area as a border zone, rare species such as brown bears, red deer, and mountain goats have been preserved here, not to mention wolves, foxes, and hares, which travelers often see. Osman fish lives in clear mountain rivers that head from glaciers on peaks.

Day 2. Taubulak—Kaskabulak Gorge—Kaskabulak Glacier

Early rise and breakfast. Departing from the Taubulak Camp, trekking up along Kora Gorge. Crossing to the left bank of the Kora River, then trekking to Kaskabulak Gorge. Going up the gorge to the Kaskabulak Glacier along the Kaskabulak River, which sometimes spates so much that it is hard to find a place to wade across it. As we approach the circus of the glacier, the relief becomes harsher: arrays of morraine rocks makes us go up and down all the time, which makes the trip rather tiresome. Under the glacier on our right lies a lake where the Kaskabulak River begins. The place offers a beautiful view of the Kaskabulak Glacier as well as the Edelweiss, Tentek, and Kokchetav Passes. Putting up a camp. Dinner and an overnight stay in tents near the glacier.

Total walking distance: 16 km

Day 3. Kaskabulak Glacier—Tektensai Gorge—Tronov Glacier

Early rise, breakfast, and packing. Trekking up the glacier to the Kokchetav Pass. Walking on the glacier is much easier because the slope is slight. The terrain is snow patches and stones alternating. We then go down to the Tektensai Gorge for some rest.  Then we go up to the Tronov Pass and down to the Tronov Glacier. The Tronov Glacier is one of the largest and most picturesque glaciers in Central Dzungaria. The way up the glacier begins at the head of the Shegirbulak River. Melted-out stones alternate with slushy ground mixed with ice that oozes water. The glacier is all broken with some cracks exposed and others filled with snow. Some of them are very deep and wide, and you can hear water roaring inside them. We move in a team without crampons, gradually approaching the left edge of the glacier. The slope is as slight as about 15 degrees. Putting up a camp. Dinner and an overnight stay in tents near the Tronov Glacier.

Total walking distance: 8 km

Day 4. Tronov Glacier—Olga Pass—Bezsonov Glacier

Early rise, breakfast, and packing. Climbinb the eastern morraine of the Tronov Glacier to the Olga Pass. What makes the Olga Pass unique is that the classic ways of entering the Tronov and Bezsonov Glaciers are widely spaced. In order to enter the path leading down to the Bezsonov Glacier, we need to do some medium-difficulty climbing on the west of the ridge or cross a small steep snow patch on the east. You should use a security rope on the snow path. The bypass on the rocks might prove time saving. We come down to the morraine of the Bezsonov Glacier. Putting up a camp. Dinner and an overnight stay in tents near the Bezsonov Glacier. 

Walking distance: about 7 km

Day 5. Bezsonov Glacier—Kora Gorge—Yuzhnaya River

Breakfast and packing. Descending from the Bezsonov Glacier is less pleasant: your feet sink in small rain rills under the snow, sometimes getting stuck up to the knee. It becomes much easier as soon as we reach the beginning of the morraine. Having reached the junction with the Yuzhnaya River in Kora Gorge, we choose a camping place. Putting up a camp. Dinner and an overnight stay in tents.

Walking distance: about 7 km

Day 6. Yuzhnaya River—Sapozhnikov Glacier—Yuzhnaya River

Breakfast. Radial entrance to the Sapozhnikov Glacier. Dinner and an overnight stay in tents. 

The second largest glacier in the Dzungarian Alatau was named after explorer V. Sapozhnikov. His 1902 expedition covered about 2000 km of caravan road and took five months. Sapozhnikov approached the Dzungarian Alatau from the south and used two difficult routes to cross the ridge: from the Khorgos River to the west to northwest and, after reaching Kopal stanitsa, to the east, exploring the heads of the rivers on the southern and northern slopes to Lake Zhasylkol and northward to Lepsinsk city. Members of the expedition were three medical students, a geologist and a teacher from Verny. The expedition was repeated in 1904, collecting plenty of material and creating a number of maps. Sapozhnikov's book "Essays of Semirechye" was published in 1906. 

Day 7. Yuzhaya River—Kora Gorge

Rise and breakfast. Packing and descending in Kora Gorge. An overnight stay on the bank of the river not far from the wading place.

Total walking distance: 14 km

Day 8. Kora Gorge—Taubulak

Breakfast and packing. Crossing to the other bank and descending in Kora Gorge to the Taubulak Camp. Rest and preparation for departure to Almaty. Overnight at the Taubulak Eco Camping.

Walking distance: about 7 km

Day 9. Taubulak—Taldykorgan—Almaty

Breakfast. Departing from Taubulak at 9 a.m. Lunch in Taldykorgan on the way. Arriving in Almaty about 8 p.m. 

Kilometers to be driven: about 380 km.

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