Kazakhstan Where to Go and What to See

The Orthodox Ascension Cathedral in Almaty, built out of wood and with no nails.

Where to go and what to see?  Sadly, for most people, when considering and planning a visit to Kazakhstan – the ninth largest country in the world – the answer can’t be “everywhere and everything”.

Most people seem to go to Almaty – the largest city, the historic capital, and a great point to visit some of the beautiful natural attractions.

The second major destination is Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), the futuristic modern capital of the country.

Click through the tabs below for more information.

Almaty Region 1

From lush green inner city parks to snow capped nearby mountains, Almaty is a beautiful city in an equally beautiful region, full of much to see, do, and enjoy.

Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan.  It was the nation’s capital between 1929 and 1997, at which point the futuristic new city of Nur-Sultan was created in northern Kazakhstan and became national capital.

Almaty has a population of just over 2 million people.  Its size and its history, and also the happy chance of its location, make it the place in Kazakhstan where most visitors enjoy most of their time.

The city itself mixes old and new, west and east, with the result being a very diverse range of architectures and cultures.  Grand Soviet era monuments (and occasionally ugly Soviet era buildings) co-exist with beautiful parks and open spaces, with older Imperial style architecture and eastern designs plus with a variety of modern buildings and international brand five star hotels.

The city remains the financial, economic and cultural heart of the country.

Its location – surrounded to the south by a semi-circular ring formed by the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, gives visitors beautiful vistas wherever they look, and with an abundance of national parks, mountain lakes, and other areas of outstanding national beauty nearby and suitable for easy day tours or overnight stays (see the other tabs in this and the next section for details of some of these places).

Weatherwise Almaty enjoys a mild climate – warm to hot in the summer, and cool to cold in the winter, and generally warmer than most of the country to its north.  While snow does happen in the winter, this also activates world class winter sports and skiing opportunities in the nearby mountains, making it a great destination year-round.

Its airport (ALA) offers domestic and international flights, and is the largest airport in the country.  Its train station provides day and overnight services to other parts of the country.

Within the city itself you can find both excellent international style shopping and also more “local style” crafts and souvenirs, and several excellent open markets, most notably the Green Bazaar.  A wide variety of restaurants and cuisines are available, as is evening entertainment, including the Kazakh State Circus.

There are many museums, art galleries and theaters in the city.  Probably the leading museum is the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan.  Others of interest include the Museum of Folk Music Instruments, the Kasteyev State Art Museum, and – if you’d like a change from major museums and instead might enjoy something more quirky, the “Museum of Broken Hearts”.  Other museums include a military and a railway museum, and plenty of other specialized museums too.

The two best known parks are the First President’s Park and the Park of the 28 Panfilov Guardsmen.  Within the latter park is the Zenkov or Ascension Russian Orthodox Cathedral, made of wood and with interlocking construction, entirely without nails.  Completed in 1907, it is believed to be the second tallest wooden building in the world.

A popular attraction is going up the top of Kok-Tobe hill on the eastern side of the city.  A beautiful six minute gondola ride takes you from the city up the side of the hill to a panoramic lookout point at the top, where various amusements and attractions can be enjoyed.

Visitors could easily spend many days in Almaty itself.  We recommend at least two full days and more if your total travel time allows it.

Weekend routes depart from Almaty during the warm season to Altyn Emel, but they travel only to the Singing Dune, although there are many other interesting objects in the national park – the unique Saki mounds of Besshatyr, the mountains of Katutau and Aktau, petroglyphs, etc. If lucky, you can see wild gazelles, kulans or Przewalski’s horses.

What can be seen:

– Mounds Besshatyr 6-5 centuries BC. e. – This is the main archaeological site of Altyn Emel Park. Here the leaders of the Tigrahaud Saks and their close ones are buried. In small mounds, simple warriors were buried. Tombs from the Tien Shan spruce were built inside the royal mounds. In total there are more than 30 graves, the largest 17 m high, 104 m in diameter. There are no such huge Saka burials in another territory of Central Asia.

-Przewalski’s horse. One of the main tasks of the national park is to increase the population of wild animals. Przewalski’s horse is the only wild horse in nature. The first to meet her for the first time was Russian researcher and geographer N.M. Przhevalsky in 1878, and this species was described by zoologist Polyakov in 1881. Going on a trip to Asia, reaching the inaccessible terrain of Dzungaria, located on the border of Northern China and Mongolia, he met a herd of horses hitherto unknown to Europeans. Locals called them “tahs”, translated into Russian, this means “yellow horse”. Their habitat was wide, horses could be found on the vast territory of the steppes from Kazakhstan to northern Mongolia.

These are small-sized horses: the body length does not exceed two meters; height 135 cm, maximum 1.5 meters; the average weight is not more than 350 kg, but heavy individuals with a mass of 400 kg are also found. Ears of small size are mobile and sensitive. The animal feels the enemy at a great distance, thanks to its excellent sense of smell and sensitive hearing. They are used to keeping their eyes open. Until recently, one could hear the statement that this wild horse is none other than the ancestor of a domestic horse.
Weak individuals are looked after to be released again into the free environment.

-36 km from the mounds is located Singing Dune
-On the way to the Singing Dune, it is difficult not to notice the stone stella Oshaktas.  Oshak – a hearth, tas-stone in Kazakh), you can see three large stones standing upright.  According to legend, the stones were piled up by the subjects of Genghis Khan for cooking, when in 1219 he and the army came to these parts. However, there is a less interesting version of the appearance of stones — they served as signal towers, on which bonfires were lit when enemies appeared. Smoke from bonfires was visible at a great distance. And there are a lot of such structures in Semirechye. And the origin of the stones, possibly from the nearest Kalkan mountains.

 -Cordon Cosbastau with a 700-year-old willow. 700-year-old willow grows on the cordon of Kosbastau, it is about 30 km south of the village. Basshee. The tree is very huge, branchy. Biologists suggest that the tree is 700 years old. Over the centuries, willow has grown to gigantic proportions. To grab the trunk, it takes several people. Also, on the cordon of Kosbastau, you can put up tents, there is a beautiful pond in which fish are found, Iridodictiums of Kolpakovsky grow along the banks, they are called wild irises.

-Katutau they are compared with Martian or lunar landscapes. Katu tau in translation from Kazakh means – frozen mountains. A very apt name, because the mountains are of volcanic origin. Once there were powerful eruptions of ancient volcanoes. Here are the “drops”, as in the photo – this is a frozen lava. In the distant past, on the border of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, in this place there were two volcanoes included in the volcanic belt, the remains of which were preserved in the eastern part of modern Kazakhstan. These are, for example, the mountains of Buguty, Bektau-ata, Karkaralinsk and others. At sunset, the frozen lava looks very beautiful, the imagination draws silhouettes and figures of various fantastic creatures and animals. It is said that there are even larger lava spills in Katutau. This interesting place is located 25 kilometers from Aktau, a turn into the gorge, where frozen spills of volcanic lava are located, is provided with a sign.

 Approaching the mountains of Aktau, landscapes are changing before our eyes.

-Canyons of Aktau (the road to them is about 74 km (from the village of Basshi),) is the most beautiful place in the national park “Altyn-Emel”. The mountains of Aktau in translation from the Kazakh language mean – White Mountains. But you can also see colorful mountains, or even richly red.  The Cretaceous Mountains of Aktau formed 60-70 million years, at the end of the Mesozoic, at the beginning of the Cenozoic era. It turns out that dinosaurs, extinct about 65 million years ago, could be witnesses of their origin. The Aktau Mountains, in fact, is the bottom of a dried up ancient sea.  In these mountains, archaeologists have repeatedly found the remains of ancient, extinct animals. Red, white, pink, greenish layers – the beauty of these desert mountains is simply mesmerizing and amazing! Yes, nature did a great job!

The continuous growth of the Aktau mountains, the work of flood flows, wind, continue to work on the further formation of mountains and canyons cutting through them.

From the vegetation, it is mainly saxaul and other desert species. The fauna of Altyn Emel, is described as the richest – gazelles, kulans, Przhevalsky horses, etc., but we only saw a large-headed lizard. Still, a lot of tourists visit AE, and the noise they make, of course scares away wild animals. Probably the most popular mountain in Aktau, which is depicted in one way or another in numerous photographs of tourists and tour brochures. firms near.

In the territory of Nat. the park carefully follows the order, cordons around, the territory is patrolled, carefully preserve such beauty, we can say – a pearl in the crown of Semirechye.

The 2 mile/3 km long Barkhan Singing Sand Dune in the Altyn-Emel National Park.

The Barkhan Singing Sand Dune is an extraordinary natural phenomenon, located about 95 miles (150 km) from Almaty, in the Altyn-Emel National Park.

The dune itself is almost 500 ft high (150 m) and about 2 miles (3 km) long.  Its (almost) unique feature is that it makes a noise – it “sings”, but the sound is more like a buzz or a muted deep jet engine than a song or musical note.  Here’s a good example on YouTube.

Scientists aren’t entirely sure what causes the sound.  There are several different possible explanations, to do with the sand slipping and sliding as it rolls down the slope, either some sort of frictional effect or displacing of air between the sand grains.  For whatever reason, the sound requires the outer layers of sand to be dry.

People often choose to climb the dune and then slide down it.  Doing so triggers the sound.  Climbing up is not easy (but also not impossible) – your feet sink into the sand as you climb up, but if you go slowly, it is fine, and there are great views from the top, to the River Ili, and the mountains in several directions.

The Barkhan Singing Dune can be enjoyed as a day tour from Almaty, or as part of a multi day tour from Almaty, typically into the Altyn-Emel National Park and perhaps to some of the lakes.

BAO – a turquoise pearl among the Tien Shan mountains

At an altitude of more than 2500 m above sea level, among the majestic Tien Shan mountains, the transparent expanse of the Big Almaty Lake shines under the rays of the sun. Many millions of years ago, the mountains, shaking once again from the powerful shocks of the earthquake, “gave a slack”, and a beautiful lake appeared in the formed fissure-hollow.

How many meters is Big Almaty Lake? BAO cannot be called large: the coastline is only 3 km long, the depth reaches 40 m, the length is 1.6 km, and the widest place is 1 km. But everyone who has visited the Big Almaty Lake at least once left a piece of their heart there forever. Beautiful and clean, it captivates with its beauty and stunning panorama: the strict peaks of Zailiysky Alatau, just like guards, rise above the lake, the highest of which are Tourist (3954 m), Ozerny (4110 m) and Sovetov Peak (4317 m), towering directly above the lake, and a little on the side you can see the pyramid of the Big Almaty peak (Z681 m).
In fine weather, calm mountains and clear lake water reflect harsh mountains and a high sky, which seems to have sunk in the icy water of an alpine reservoir …

And the “character” of the lake is feminine, changeable: water, like the mood of a beautiful woman, constantly changes color – from turquoise blue to emerald. And depending on the time of year, the depth of BAO changes: in winter it becomes shallow, and by August the water level rises by almost 20 meters!

Many people flock to this indescribable beauty every year. An amazing combination of snow-white “gray” mountains, the blinding sun, turquoise water of the lake, and centuries-old green pines against the background of ringing silence and intoxicating with its freshness and purity of air causes a feeling of unreality and detachment.

To get to the Big Almaty Lake, there are several possibilities.

By car
By bus

Getting from Almaty to BAO by your own car is very simple. A good asphalt road along which many cafes and restaurants are located will quickly lead you to this realm of beauty and grandeur of nature. In addition, there is only one road, and it is simply impossible to get lost. Not a smooth road leads to BAO, but a serpentine with a large number of sharp turns, narrow sections and places where rockfall is possible.

Big Almaty Lake is located 15 km from the city limits of Almaty.

You cannot get to the lake directly by bus.  But if you are not afraid of long walks, you can try this option.  From the park of the First President you can take a bus to the final stop.  There you need to go through the turnstile of the eco-post (the territory of the Ile-Alatau National Park begins behind it).  At the fork between the gorges of Bolshoi Almaty and Almarasan you need to turn left and go along the highway for about 8 km (2-2.5 hours), and then 1.5-2 hours along the pipe (turn right before a steep climb near the power plant).

In total, the length of the pedestrian part of the route is about 10-11 km, and you will have to go uphill almost all the time.  Therefore, it is worth soberly assessing your strength and physical fitness.  If you decide to go on foot, then you will be more than rewarded for your courage: the views that accompany the road to the lake itself are worthy of the brush of great painters!  You can also go along the highway – this path is longer (15-16 km), but technically simpler.

Interesting places in the vicinity of BAO

 You can spend the night in a hotel located 2 km above the lake, next to the observatory. Admire the nightly celestial bodies, viewing them through a telescope – the dream of people who are passionate about the secrets of the universe.
 Fans of everything related to outer space should go even 8 km higher; there, on the Zhusaly-Kezen pass, there is a scientific Space Station.
 Travelers who are ready to test themselves as climbers can climb the peak of Big Almaty and the peak of Tourists.
 In the AK Sunkar falconry kennel, tourists will get acquainted with the amazing world of birds, an exciting bird show is held here.

A person who finds himself in such amazingly beautiful places once again becomes convinced of how amazing planet Earth is.  Regardless of the type of movement, an excursion to the lake will bring a lot of pleasure.  This corner of nature will attract to itself, floating in memory in all its greatness.

The stunning natural beauty of Charyn Canon, east of Almaty in Kazakhstan.

Charyn Canyon is one of the best known and most popular attractions in Kazakhstan.  As is immediately visible from any picture, it is often compared to the Grand Canyon in the United States, both in terms of size and beauty.

The canyon is located within the Charyn National Park, a 485 sq mile (1250 sq km) park established in 2004 and is located about 125 miles (200 km) east of Almaty.  The park is long and thin, primarily protecting much of the canyon and a region about 2 miles (3 km) to each side of the canyon walls.  The canyon runs about 56 miles (90 km) in length, and in places is as deep as 1000 ft (300 m).  It was formed by the Charyn River, and comprises five different canyon sections, known as The Valley of Castles, The Temirlik Canyon, The Yellow Canyon, The Red Canyon and the Bestamak Canyon.

The best known and most popular section is The Valley of Castles, called that because of its unusual rock formations, with a depth of about 330 ft (100 m) and about two miles (3 km) in length.

The canyon was formed about 12 million years ago, out of sedimentary red sandstone that has been subject to wind and water erosion.  Its slopes and shapes continue to slowly evolve.

Charyn Canyon is covered with mystical legends, traditions and secrets. The people called the stony sculptures “Dragon Gorge”, “Witch Gorge” and “Stone Sack”. In ancient times, people believed that spirits lived here, and felt they should not be disturbed.

Charyn Canyon can be enjoyed at any time of year, and presents quite a different experience at different times of year.

When is the Best Time to Visit?

In spring, nature comes to life, everywhere is filled with colors, and the air is unusually clean and fresh. 

In summer, the temperature can reach 36 degrees Celsius, but if you do not care about the heat, there’s something about the canyon’s colors that seem ideally suited to hot dry weather.

In September and the fall season, the Charyn Canyon is also beautiful in its own way. Yellow grass, the smell of bonfires and incredible nature.  In the winter, you’ll see snow instead – so why not visit two or three or more times each year to capture the canyon in all its changing beauty.  Really, any time and every time is a great time to visit!

How to Get to the Charyn Canyon?

You can drive yourself, or even take local transportation from Almaty to the canyon.  For the greatest convenience of course, we recommend you have us arrange a day tour (or an overnight stay) from Almaty.

It is about a 3 – 3 1/2 hour drive from Almaty to the canyon rim.  You can only go down to the canyon floor via off-road vehicles, or even walk down from the rim.

The duration of a typical day tour from Almaty and back to Almaty is usually 10 – 12 hours, with about half spent traveling and the other half at the canyon.

What is Interesting in the Charyn Canyon?

Most people enjoy several different activities on a Charyn Canyon visit.  A walking tour of the “Valley of Castles” section of the canyon is usually a highlight of most tours. Weather permitting, a picnic lunch on the banks of the Charyn River, perhaps sheltering under some of the trees in summer, is a lovely experience.

Sogdian ash trees grow along the canyon.  This is a unique tree that grows 35 ft (10 m) high, and reach sizes of almost 10 ft (3 m) in diameter.  The tree is rarely found elsewhere.  These trees have been growing in the canyon for about 700 years, and the groves of these trees are under the protection of UNESCO. Its length is about 20 kilometers, and some trees have been growing here for more than 700 years. Sogdian ash trees are 10 meters high, and the thickness can reach several meters. 

On the territory of the Charyn Reserve there is also another grove – “Turangovaya”.  This is made up of Asian Poplar trees, which are considered sacred among the Kazakhs, and its felling is considered a great sin. These trees have powerful roots that can find water at a depth of up to 160 ft (50 m). That is why poplars feel great even in very harsh conditions, which is why they gained such popularity in Kazakhstan.

Since 1964, the grove has been protected by UNESCO as a natural monument. By its cliff, more than one and a half thousand species of plants grow. Many of them are listed in the Red Book. There are many animals that are amazing. For example foxes, hares and jerboas. Around tourists surrounded by pristine beauty.

Another interesting option is to visit the canyon at night. The clear air reveals a magnificent starry sky and the silhouette of the canyon looks like the walls of a huge castle. This spectacle is truly impressive and fascinating.


There is also a main tourism visitor center facility, complete with gazebos, bungalows, traditional yurts and summer cafes.

In the eco-park a wide selection of entertainment is available:

o safari in the vicinity on off-road vehicles

o riding on the river on ATVs

o fishing

o horse riding in the canyon

o a small zoo with local animals

o Saki (traditional local ethnic) bathing


See amazing raptors up close at the Falcon Nursery.

Sunkar is the only falconry nursery in Kazakhstan to breed endangered birds of prey.  The nursery is registered in the international CITES convention.

Nursery “Sunkar” is located 7 kilometers from Almaty in the mountainous part, up the street. Navoi, in the direction of the Big Almaty Lake, right in front of the eco-post in the Big Almaty Gorge, in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau.

This is a unique nursery of rare and endangered bird species, unique in its species composition and equipment.  The nursery is the only one throughout Kazakhstan in its profile.

Sunkar was founded in 1989. During the period of its activity, the nursery raised 1060 individuals and gratuitously released 360 saker falcons into nature.

In addition to birds, hunting dogs are also bred – the”Tazy” breed, also known as the Central Asian Shepherd. During a spectacular performance with freely flying birds of prey, they will tell you about the traditions, customs, history of falconry, one of the oldest traditions, which is hunting birds.

A bird of prey show is a performance in which the main participants are birds of prey. This is not a circus or a zoo. Birds at the time of presentation are not attached and are not in cages.

The presentation involves several species of birds of prey, demonstrating, under the guidance of an experienced falconer-golden eagle, various hunting methods. Viewers will learn about the history of falconry, the biological characteristics and lifestyle of birds of prey.

People conducting the show are dressed in hunter costumes and show how they train birds at different stages of training. The host’s charisma rolls over, humorous, no words. And when a bird of prey flies at you with a wingspan of 3 meters or more – breathtaking. Bright emotions, special impressions and an unforgettable vacation for you and your family after everything you see there, you are definitely guaranteed!

Birds, by the way, are also different (and shows on different days may differ), in the nursery they show falcons, balans, eagles, owls, vultures and others). The duration is a maximum of half an hour, but it is very interesting, they keep in touch with the audience all the time, use jokes, therefore, in principle, flies in one breath. You can also book a horse ride, there is an outdoor pool (all for an additional fee). And there is a cafe there, you can eat, cook delicious, home-style, and the first, second and compote.

To date, the Sunkar nursery contains 370 individuals of 15 species of birds of prey. During the existence of the nursery, more than 600 birds were released into the natural environment. In the falcon center “Sunkar” contains 7 species of rare endangered birds of prey. This is a detachment of falcons, saker falcons, chahinas, peregrine falcons and gyrfalcons, in addition, there is a detachment of eagles, an eagle burial ground, the steppe eagle and the national pride of Kazakhstan – the golden eagle.

Scavengers are represented by several individuals – a snow vulture, a black vulture, a vulture vulture and a bearded man. There are still favorites of children – owls, especially everyone likes the largest owl in the world – the Himalayan owl. The complex revived the extinct dog breed “Kazakh Greyhound Tazy”, which was recognized as the State Property in 2013, as the wolf pups who grew up in the complex became artists and starred in the famous film “Shal”.

Birds of prey (with the exception of scavengers) eat only fresh meat. And in order for our pets to receive high-quality and nutritious nutrition, a vivarium was built in the nursery, designed for a one-time maintenance of 10 thousand rats.

The territory of the nursery “Sunkar” (Sunkar in translation from Kazakh – falcon), beautiful, equipped. In addition to seeing animals and birds, you can ride a horse, watch a show of hunting with birds of prey. There is a sauna, playground, soccer field, restaurant, cafe, hotel. I would also advise, after visiting the nursery, to go to the picturesque rockfall “Stone Flower”. To do this, go through the entire nursery and go deep into the gorge for a kilometer and a half to two.

Representation with birds of prey in the vicinity of Almaty is held daily from 17.00, except Monday.

These magnificent creatures bond with their trainers, and provide a spectacular demonstration to visitors.

In the central part of the Zailiysky Alatau ridge, on the northern slope in the immediate vicinity of Almaty, Ile-Alatau State National Natural Park is located. It was created by the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated February 22, 1996 in the territory of Almaty region. The natural park is located in three districts: Karasaysky, Talgar, Enbekshikazakh.
Its length from the Chemolgan River in the west and to the Turgen River in the east is 120 km, and in diameter reaches 30 km. The area of ​​the park is 202,292 ha. The national park is located within absolute heights from 600 to 5000 m above sea level.
The main task of this state institution of republican significance is the preservation and restoration of natural complexes and at the same time providing people with the opportunity to relax in a civilized manner in nature.
And there is something to see in the park. After all, it is located within absolute heights from 900 to 5 thousand meters above sea level. And this means – forests, gardens, in which many species of different trees. Within one day, you can make a trip, equal in length to several thousand kilometers, from the Kazakh steppe to the Arctic. There are seven zones of vertical landscape zoning in the park! At the entrance there are dry steppes, at the top in the mountains are alpine meadows and cold, snow-covered rocky peaks. The park has 20 natural monuments, including the Chin-Turgen moss spruce forests, under the soil cover of which permafrost lies, creating a microlandscape of the forest-tundra. In the vicinity and on the territory of the Ile-Alatau Natural Park, there are more than 40 historical and cultural monuments of the peoples who have inhabited this territory since the Bronze Age.
The flora of the park – this is 1200 species of plants – in its composition reflects the diversity of the entire Northern Tien Shan. As already mentioned, the alpine and subalpine zones are forbs of meadows, here you can meet moss swamps. In the midlands and at an altitude of 1600 – 2400 m there is a shrub-forest belt. This is the most favorite vacation spot – deciduous and coniferous forests in combination with grass edges.
 The nature of the park is based on picturesque forests composed of Schrenk spruce and accompanying small-leaved species of Sievers apple tree, hawthorn, wild apricot, Tien Shan mountain ash and other tree and shrub species. Scientists consider the low mountains of the Trans-Ili Alatau in Semirechye to be the center of origin of cultivated apple varieties all over the world.
Many medicinal plants grow in the park: here you can collect tansy, yarrow, rosehip, valerian, mountain ash, juniper, hawthorn, dandelion, plantain and many other healthy berries and herbs. Also in the mountains you can enjoy apricot, raspberry, currant, wild strawberry, blackberry, barberry and sea buckthorn. During walks in the park you may come across decorative plants: red book saffron, primroses, tulips, irises, bells, violets.

In the National Park there are also very rare plants that are listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan: 36 species of grassy, ​​shrubby and woody plants. Among them are two types of tulips and one each of iris and peony. By the way, according to historians, it was from Zailiysky Alatau that a tulip along the Great Silk Road came to Holland, where it is now considered a symbol of the country.
The wildlife of the park is also rich and diverse. About 1,500 species of invertebrates and 213 species of vertebrates live here – these are mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Most often in the forests and in the mountains you can meet deer – deer, roe deer, and in the rocks – the Siberian ibex – theca. Quite often in the thicket of the forest and in open spaces you can find deer, deer, roe deer, and above, in placers of rocks, Siberian capricorn – theca. A wild boar, a wolf, a fox, a badger, as well as mouse-like rodents are not uncommon. Many of the animals living in these places are listed in the Red Book.
This park contains the famous Kok-Zhailau tract, the magnificent Almaty Lake, the peak of the Constitution 4,540 meters high (there are 265 large and small glaciers in the Zailiysky Alatau, a large part of which are located in the park), the medieval Talgar settlement and the Turgen gorge, nearby with which you can see three beautiful waterfalls: Medvezhy, Skalisty and Kairaksky. thermal springs: radon in the basin of the Bolshaya Almatinka river, on the basis of which the Alma-Arasan sanatorium was created, and the siliceous-thermal ones – Gorelnik and “Tau-Turgen.
Having bathed in these mineral waters, you strengthen your health and get a lot of pleasant sensations in the body.
A well-developed network of roads and trails, cafes, restaurants and other service facilities creates favorable conditions for eco-tourism – in the summer from the blooming rose gardens of the city (the park begins in the suburbs of Almaty), you can climb the zone of eternal snow in two hours by jeep. There are also conditions for sports, especially winter sports.
The most important thing that attracts is outdoor recreation and ecological tourism. Mostly the National Park is visited for a short rest. This is called a weekend break. It is Saturday and Sunday, sometimes also Monday due to the fact that markets are closed on this day. Among the week, visitors make up only 10% of the total number of vacationers. All gorges and forest districts are distributed by the number of visitors, the largest by the number of vacationers is the Big Almaty Gorge, then the Turgenskoye, Aksayskoye, and then Kotyr-Bulakskoye, Issykskoye, Kaskelenskoye and Butakovskoye.

About overpasses – the “gateway” of the National Park.
 Overpasses have been installed in the main gorges on the border of the Ile-Alatau GNPP. They are established primarily for environmental purposes, to monitor compliance with the park’s protection regime: to suppress poaching and fire danger, and, of course, to charge for the use of specially protected natural areas in accordance with the law. Funds received from overpasses are used to improve the territory of the park, including garbage collection, recreation facilities, landscaping, tourism development: improvement of routes, production of promotional items, purchase of tourist equipment and more.
The entire territory of the National Park is divided into forest walks. An inspector is assigned to each of them. He has a special office building where he is located and from where he patrols his territory. And in the most visited gorges, operational, mobile security is organized – these are groups of 3-4 people who travel around the territory by car or horse-drawn transport and conduct campaigning and explanatory work among vacationers, talking about the rules of behavior in the park.
The park is divided into forestries, and in each of them observation towers are set up at high points. There are special people who are monitoring that there are no fires, in case of other unforeseen circumstances, to report this to the dispatch service, and measures will be taken immediately.
It is important to know that unauthorized hunting and fishing, picking berries and mushrooms without permission, as well as staying with pets (cats, dogs) are prohibited in the park.

Almaty Region 2

The gorgeous colors of Lake Issyk, a short distance from Almaty in Kazakhstan.

While not as well known as some, Issyk Lake is considered by those who see it as one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the entire world.

The lake is relatively new in geological terms.  It was formed 8,000 – 10,000 years ago, as a result of a rockslide damming a valley, with the Issyk river accordingly pooling and forming a lake behind the natural obstruction.

Starting from the 1930s, it became an increasingly popular tourist destination, and it is rumored that it was a favorite place for Nikita Khrushchev in the early 1960s.  But then, in 1963, a massive mudslide (the largest and most destructive of anywhere in the Soviet Union during its entire ~75 years in existence) washed away most of the tourist development and saw the natural dam collapse, with a flood of water and debris cascading down the slopes and killing more than 1,000 people in the downriver town of Issyk (also spelled Esik).  The lake was drained and ceased to exist, much to the sorrow of all who loved it.

In the early 1990s the natural dam was reconstructed and reinforced, and the lake has gradually refilled.  It is currently at about 3/4 of its original volume, and its earlier beauty has returned.  It measures 1.15 miles long (1.85 km) by 1/2 mile wide (780 m) and reaches depths of about 190 ft (57 m).  The lake is over a mile high, at a height of 5774 ft asl (1750 m).

The lake is particularly known for its deep green and blue colors – beautiful aquamarines and turquoises.  Colors change depending on the light, sun, and cloud.

Because it is fed from snow melt, the water is cold.  Even in mid-summer, water temperatures only reach 48°F/9°C, and not only do people not go swimming in it, but fish are only very seldom seen in its waters either.  But please don’t think the lake or nearby is barren.  There are over 30 different types of wild animals living around the lake, and 150 types of birds.

Note that there is a totally different lake with a similar name, Issyk-Kul Lake, in nearby Kyrgyzstan.

How to Get to Issyk Lake?

Issyk Lake is 40 miles/65 km from Almaty.  It usually takes less than 90 minutes to get to the lake from the city.  The route to the lake is a scenic pleasure in itself, crossing over the Big Almaty Canal, going past teh Scythian mounds, entering the Ili-Alatau National Park, and going through the town of Esik, alongside the Issyk River, and to the lake.

What Will You See?

The beautiful lake itself, its associated river, and dense coniferous forest on the slopes of the mountains. On the former bottom of the lake that hasn’t been returned to water and which was not destroyed by the mudflow, there is a birch grove.

Best Time to Visit?

From a weather and warmth point of view, July, August and September are the best months to visit these places, although in the mountains, the weather can deteriorate at any time of year with little warning.

During the winter, the lake usually freezes over, but that doesn’t deter visitors, who appreciate the different scene and peace of the frozen lake in winter as much as the beautiful colors of the lake in summer.

How to Get There?

There is a good quality road that takes you up to the lake, and most of the year this is readily passable by car.  Alternatively, we can organize a day tour from Almaty for you.

Kapchagay is one of the most popular resorts in Kazakhstan. It is located on the banks of the reservoir of the same name – an artificial reservoir formed in the middle reaches of the Ili River, by blocking it in the Kapchagai Gorge.
Kapchagay is 76 km from Almaty. In 2017, a 6-lane concrete block was laid towards the reservoir, providing the opportunity to quickly get to the recreation areas located here.

On the shore of the reservoir is the city of Kapchagai, built in the seventies of the twentieth century, in connection with the construction of the Kapchagai hydroelectric station. Young specialists from all over the Soviet Union came to large-scale construction of a hydroelectric power station in those years. Many of them took root and remained to live here. As a result, a small town is inhabited by people of various nationalities.
The Kapchagai reservoir has impressive dimensions: about one hundred kilometers in length and twenty-five kilometers in width. The depth of the reservoir reaches forty-two meters. This is one of the largest reservoirs in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Due to the large size and emerald shade of the water, the reservoir is often called the Kapchagai Sea.
The beaches on Kapchagai are quite wide, gently sloping and sandy. A breeze often walks over the water surface, creating small waves. All these factors, coupled with the long, hot summers, served as excellent prerequisites for using the reservoir as a place for a beach holiday. Today, on the shores of Kapchagai, there are about one hundred and fifty boarding houses and recreation areas that provide their services to both residents of the Almaty region and the whole of Kazakhstan.
There are upscale hotels, guest houses in the style of “robinsonade” and, of course, recreation centers in the national style. Fresh air, amazingly clean water, yachts, jet skis, motor ships, and other indispensable attributes of water recreation attract every year an increasing number of guests from near and far abroad.
With the development of infrastructure, Kapchagay is becoming more attractive for vacationers from the CIS countries. In any recreation area, you can be offered to use a motor boat, a boat, go water-skiing or rent a yacht for a walk along Kapchagay. If necessary, you can turn to the services of instructors in water sports or watercraft management. Cafes, bars, discos and shops on the coast are present in sufficient numbers.
 Near the sandy beaches are mountains and valleys. There is a category of tourists who come here with climbing equipment and combine a spa holiday with the conquest of mountain gorges and peaks. But for the most part, people tend to Kapchagai for even tanning and swimming in the “sea”. It is worth noting that the service here is not inferior to European resorts, and the prices are quite affordable.
The depth of water in different places of the water range from 3 to 40 meters and is a favorable habitat for carp, grass carp, bream, pike perch, Jericho, crucian carp, snake-head, catfish, crayfish, and even less common today, spike – fish from the family sturgeon.
Many tourists visit this unusual corner not only for their wonderful nature, but also because Kapchagay is a center of entertainment and a casino.
In 2007, a law was passed in the Republic of Kazakhstan, according to which the whole gambling business should be concentrated in two zones defined for this, one of which was named the city of Kapchagay. Since then, casinos began to open here, and numerous agencies have been organizing junket tours – specific tourist trips for gambling people. If you have reached the age of 21 and possess not only excitement, but also a sufficient amount of material resources, which are not at all a pity to lose miserably, then you can try to catch the fortune by the tail in one of the Kapchagai casinos. Wealthy Alma-Ata and Aktau residents come here to try their luck. In addition to the casino, it is planned to build a golf club, hippodrome, zoo, Disneyland and much more in Kapchagai as part of a special project to create an entertainment center.

You can get to the Kapchagai reservoir as follows:
• By train: daily from Almaty-1 railway station, trains leave for the city of Kapchagai (Kapshagai) ..
• By bus: daily buses depart from the Sairan bus station to the city of Kapchagai.
• By private car: from Almaty to Kapchagai you need to follow the north direction on the A3 highway. Approximate travel time – more than 1 hour.

High in the mountains, in the lintel connecting the mountain ranges of Zailiysky Alatau and Kungei-Alatau, between the overgrown with spruce slopes of the Kolsai Gorge, these natural treasures are safely hidden – wonderful lakes.  Each of them has its own unique charm.  Each is beautiful in its own way.

The Kolsai lakes are called the “pearl of the Northern Tien Shan”.  But in reality it’s not even a pearl, but a real necklace: there are three lakes.

The first at an altitude of 1.8 km meets guests Saty Lake.  Its length is about a kilometer, the width of the reservoir “spreading” along the gorge is 400 meters, and the depth is 80 meters.  The water in the lake is very cold even in summer – not higher than 6-8 degrees.

The second Kolsaysky lake – Mynzhylgy – is located 430 m higher.  Its depth is 50 meters.  A narrow mountain trail leads to the lake.  It is the largest and most beautiful of the three lakes.  As if rewarding travelers for a long and difficult climb, it meets them with an amazing landscape: a natural dam made of fallen spruce trees and picturesque shores “decorated” with alpine flowers, among which here and there snow-white stars of edelweiss flicker.

Upper Kolsai – the highest and smallest lake – is located 600 m higher – at an altitude of 2850 m above sea level.  It “hid” between the majestic cliffs and the bizarre evergreen juniper.

The water in Kolsai lakes is extraordinary: centuries-old Tien Shan spruces have just been reflected in the dark blue depths – and now the water is already emerald green – like a coniferous forest painted the lake in its colors!  But the next moment, a high blue sky looked into the lake – and the water immediately turned bright blue!

The nature of Kolsai Lakes is extraordinary.  Ponds surround pristine forests, alpine flowers grow on the slopes.  There are many animals in the protected area of ​​the national park.  If you’re lucky, you can see the Turkestan lynx, snow leopard, bearded man, blue bird.

The water in the lakes is crystal clear and transparent, the banks are gentle without rocky cliffs.  In the water mirror, the magnificent Tang Shan firs and the deep blue sky are equally well reflected.

Of course, in such amazing reservoirs the “inhabitants” should live to match them.  So it is – rainbow trout is found in the Lower and Middle Kolsai Lakes – a truly “royal” fish!  And she feels herself in the crystal clear waters of the lakes very freely – no one will catch her here.  After all, the territory where Kolsai Lakes are located is a national park.  So at sunset, the trout arranges a “performance”, jumping out of the water and showing themselves to the grateful audience in all its glory.

The closest “neighbors” of the three Kolsai lakes are the mysterious Kaindy lake, located 11 km to the east, and the beautiful blue lake Issyk-Kul, which can be reached through the Sary-Bulak pass.

The bewitching beauty and splendor of the majestic mountain landscapes and the fabulously beautiful Kolsai Lakes, the silence and tranquility reigning here, fascinate and intoxicate with the juicy aroma of herbs and flowers, giving the pacification and peace of mind that we are so lacking in the eternal bustle of big cities and the crazy rhythm of modern life.

When to go to Kolsai Lakes

The optimal time for visiting is May-September.  Going on a tour in May-June, take a spray against insects with you – at this time, tick activity is increased.

Kolsai lakes. How to get there

By personal transport.  From Almaty to Kolsai Lakes about 300 km (285 km to the village of Saty).  The road takes 4-5 hours.  Going on a journey, you need to be prepared for the fact that the last 50 kilometers the road is far from ideal, and you can’t get to the lakes themselves by an ordinary passenger car.

Leaving Almaty along the Kuldzhinsky tract, you need to go east to the village.  Low water: do not miss the fork.  On it you need to turn right, drive a bridge across the river.  Chilik and right after the bridge turn right again.

Then the movement goes along the main road.  Having passed the village Nura and Baiseit, move to the fork leading to Chongju.  The road to Kolsai goes straight.  Here, asphalt is replaced in places by gravel. 
Passing the Toraigyr pass, you should turn right – to the village.  Zhalanash.  Take the bypass road to the village.  Saty (the road there is quite difficult (winds along the gorge, goes to the sides, rises and falls down with rather large differences), but in good condition, so it will not be difficult to drive along it).

Saty is the last inhabited locality along the route: Kolsai Lakes are located 10 km from Saty.  To get there, you need to drive through the village and at the fork, head up and left along the main road.  At the next fork, go straight to the environmental post.

Kolsaysky lakes are located in the territory of the national park “Kulsay kulderі”, therefore entry is paid.

There is a road to the first lake from the post, and then you can get further only on foot.

Intercity buses.  Flights from Almaty to the village Saty depart from the city bus station according to the schedule.

On tourist buses.


Guest houses. In the village Sat can be accommodated in guest houses for 2-6 people.

Hotel.  In a picturesque location on the lake there is a hotel with comfortable rooms (with amenities, shower and TV).

Wooden cottages and yurts.  If convenience is not the main thing for you – you can mix yourself in yurts or cottages located near the first lake.

Tents.  Accommodation near the second and third lakes is possible only in tents.


Hiking.  In addition to walking around the Lower Lake, you can go on foot to the Middle and Upper.  From the first lake to the second – 5 km, to the third you have to go another 4 km.  And after 6 km there is the Sary-Bulak pass, from where a stunning panorama of Issyk-Kul opens.  The road is not easy, so the trip should be planned for two days.

Horse rides.  In the village of Saty, you can rent horses and visit all three lakes in one day (the whole trip is about 25 km).  Or just take a ride on horseback.


If you do not like climbing mountain trails, you can just walk around the first lake and through the forest, collecting generous gifts of nature – mountain strawberries, raspberries, mushrooms. Mountain bikes.

Water walks.  To ride on the lake, you can rent a catamaran or a boat.

Amazingly beautiful, mystical and mysterious place.  Seeing Kaindy for the first time, it seems that this is a real shipyard!  Indeed, from the turquoise surface of the reservoir here and there sharp peaks stick out, similar to the masts of sunken ships.  What is this?  What secrets does Lake Kaindy hide in its depths?

The sunken forest of Lake Kaindy

Among the stony slopes, covered with dense emerald greenery of coniferous forest, a panorama of the Chilik River valley, gorges of Saty and Kaindy comes out of extraordinary beauty …  Among this splendor, one cannot but notice the turquoise expanse of the lake, which bears the same name – Kaindy.

Translated, it means “teeming with birch trees.”  But do not look in surprise at the Tien Shan fir trees surrounding the lake – there are also birches here – 5 km from the reservoir there is a birch grove.  However, it’s not only the beauty of the surrounding nature that attracts tourists here – the “highlight” of the local landscape is Lake Kaindy itself, or rather, what is hidden under the water of this reservoir.

In fact, the peaks sticking out of the water are the dry tops of the spruce.  The trees themselves, as you might guess, “drowned” in a mountain lake.  In any other place, they would have already decayed long ago, but in Kaindy there is such cold water (even in July no higher than 6 ° C) that the trees are literally mothballed!  So in clear weather they are clearly visible through the water.  Well, divers can even walk along the paths of this fabulous underwater forest!

Kaindy Lake is rightfully considered one of the natural wonders of Kazakhstan.  This beautiful mountain pond is located on the northern slope of the Kungei Alatau gorge, at an altitude of 1867 m above sea level.

How to get there?

Kaindy Lake is located at a distance of 288 km from Almaty.  You can get there by car.  Most of the route runs along the highway (about 190 km along the Kuldzhinsky tract).  Before reaching s. Saty somewhere 700-800 m, you will need to turn left into the gorge (turn opposite the mazars).  Be prepared for the fact that the river will have to be wade twice.  In addition, you will encounter quite steep descents and ascents, so that only off-road vehicles can overcome this road.

A barrier will be waiting for you near the forester’s house, where you will have to pay eco-collection (Kaindy Lake is located in the Kolsai Lakes National Park).  Further, the road goes along the birch forest, which gave the name to the lake.  You will now have the river all the time on the left side.  Immediately after the grove, the road runs into a clearing – cars usually leave everything here, and go to the lake on foot (the road will take no more than a quarter hour).

The lake is located in a hollow below the meadow.  It is almost invisible from above – the view covers the forest.  But an unusually beautiful panorama of the mountain landscape opens to the south and east of the lake.  You can put up a tent on the shore or just take a walk if you do not plan to stay overnight.

Another way to Lake Kaindy is through the pass from Issyk-Kul.  This is also a walking route, but you will need to get out of the village. Taldyssu.


Going on a trip, remember that even in summer it is not hot at all – in July the daytime temperature is not higher than +23, and at night it can even drop to zero.  In addition, the weather in these places is completely unpredictable and capricious: it can rain at any moment.

How Lake Kaindy was formed

Despite the unusual and mysterious appearance of the lake, there are no secrets in its history.  A little more than 100 years ago (in 1911), the southern slopes of the Zailiysky Alatau and the northern slopes of the Kungei Alatau shuddered from the strong shocks of the Kemin earthquake.  Over 5 minutes, oscillations continued, the strength of which exceeded 8 points!  And the mountains could not stand it …  Deep cracks and tears formed, landslides and numerous landslides occurred.

One of such landslides blocked the river – and the mountain valley in front of this “dam” was filled with water, flooding the coniferous forest growing there.  So there was Lake Kaindy.  Its length is about 400 m, and the maximum depth (according to 2014) is 21 m.  Initially, Kaindy was deeper by almost 10 m, but in the 80s, mudflow caused its “adjustments” to the size of the reservoir, and the flood in June 2010 has further reduced the level of depth.

By the way, before this, the spruce trees were completely under water, and after the leash, the tops of centuries-old spruce trees were bare, and the wind and sun “took” them, giving them a unique look of the masts of sunken ships.  The 15-meter “masts” look especially impressive when fog descends on the lake – eyewitnesses say that the area takes on a completely surreal look!  This is a rare beauty lake!

Tab Content

Cave painting on the territory of modern Kazakhstan appeared in ancient times. Looking at unique drawings, you can get acquainted with the customs of our ancestors, their beliefs and see scenes from everyday life. The two most famous accumulations of petroglyphs are located in 120 and 170 km and from Almaty.
Petroglyphs of the archaeological landscape of Tamgaly (Tanbaly)
170 km from Almaty is the largest collection of ancient drawings of Kazakhstan, which has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2004. Near Lake Balkhash in the Arnahai massif, you can see unique images – “Petroglyphs of the archaeological landscape of Tamgaly.”

Petroglyphs of Tamgaly were discovered in 1957 by A.G. Maximova. It was she who became the first archaeologist to begin studying the Tamgaly petroglyphs. Later, her colleagues joined the studies of this valuable historical landscape monument. The world-famous archaeological complex has become the national symbol of Kazakhstan, because it is unique in its composition and has no analogues in the world. The State Open Air Museum was created here.
About 4 kilometers from the Tamgaly tract, tourists will find a small visit center. Here you can get acquainted with a small collection of sanctuary finds. Most of the exhibits and artifacts obtained by archaeologists were sent to large museums in Kazakhstan. At the entrance to the tract installed a detailed map of the tourist route. At the most interesting places of the sanctuary are detailed signs.
Over a hundred monuments, the origin of which dates back to different eras, are concentrated on the relatively small territory of the Tamgaly tract. The most famous are petroglyphs, but burial grounds, altars, places of worship of ancient tribes, mounds, ancient quarries are still of great interest to archaeologists and tourists. The archaeological complex contains historical information and objects, the first of which appeared in this place more than three millennia ago. The most ancient drawings belong to the Bronze Age. According to the results of scientific studies, it has been established that the range of application of petroglyphs is a period from the Bronze Age to the XIII – XIV centuries of our era. The average age of Tanbala petroglyphs exceeds four thousand years.
The most significant part of the complex is the canyon. On its rocks, scientists counted almost three thousand petroglyphs. The oldest of them, created during the time of the inhabitants of the cult of sun worshipers, were carved on the surface of the rocks, oriented only in a certain direction. In front of each of the large rocks of this canyon there is a place in the valley, from where you can see all the drawings of the Bronze Age at the same time. The drawings themselves Tamgaly tracts at the same time form complex compositions.
These compositions from petroglyphs form an integral artistic narrative that reveals all the details of the ancient mythology of the tribes that lived here in the Bronze Age. Many of these drawings are unique and are found only in this place of Central Asia. The second feature of petroglyphs is their strict defined sequence. Artists of antiquity embodied their art in a strict system and only in a specific exhibition.
Many petroglyphs underwent restoration. Some of them were assembled in parts and re-glued, on some traces of vandalism were removed. One of the most famous drawings is the images of “sun-headed” people. Hunting scenes are also common among petroglyphs. The need for art has been developed in people since ancient times, which is reminiscent of the numerous dance scenes.
In addition to images of animals living here, such as a spotted bull and a deer, you can also find drawings of mythical animals, for example, unicorns. Known is the drawing, which is called the “Philosopher” or “Sage.” Petroglyphs of later centuries are supplemented with inscriptions made by ancient Turkic runes. On some rocks you can see on the one hand rock paintings of the Bronze Age, and on the other hand inscriptions made by the participants of the first Buddhist missions in Kazakhstan.

Groups of Tamgaly Petroglyphs
The tour of the tract begins with the burial ground of Karakuduk-II, dated XII – X centuries BC, located on the plain in front of the canyon. The burial places of children and adults were found in it in the cysts characteristic for that time – burial boxes composed of thin stone slabs. The main part of the route is the central part of the reserve, in which most of the petroglyphs are divided, divided into five groups.
1st group
It consists of 111 petroglyphs, most of which are unfinished drawings of the Bronze Age. Basically, these are large sketches of animal figures, the size of which reaches 60–70 centimeters.
2nd group
The largest and most representative, besides the oldest part of the Tamgaly petroglyphs. It has 432 cave paintings, which are carefully and deeply driven into the stone walls of the gorge. Only in this group are there images of ancient “mummers”. Most of these petroglyphs date back to the Middle Bronze Age. This is the most expressive and oldest series of amazing cave paintings of the tract.
3rd group
A series of 444 petroglyphs, most of which were updated in later times. Some of these drawings were supplemented by petroglyphs of the Saka period and the Middle Ages. They are arranged in such a way that it is convenient to admire them from the opposite side, as if visitors were in a real art gallery.
4th group
This group consists of 700 petroglyphs, which form the compositional center of the ancient sanctuary. Most of the drawings do not have artistic value and look inconspicuous. They belong to the early Iron Age and the Middle Ages, the most recent of which date back to the 19th century.
Of exceptional historical value is a panel of the Bronze Age, which depicts in a certain order the seven deities of the ancient pagan cult. A little lower you can see the adherents of the pagan cult, raised their hands in prayer, and several warriors whirling in battle dance, as well as a woman in labor.
5th group
This is the largest group of petroglyphs, which has more than 1000 cave paintings. Here you can see images of different eras, but only a few panels belong to the Bronze Age. They depict horses, wild boars, bulls with stripes on the body, carts and chariots drawn by camels, as well as several mythical drawings of the “sunheads”. On the rocks, 11 petroglyphs depicting deities can be counted, but these figures repeat the characters from the 4th group.
Researchers claim that this place was sacred to the local population. Once upon a time, priests performed their mysterious rites here. It should be noted that Tanbala impresses everyone with its excellent acoustics. Even a whisper is carried several hundred meters here. Scientists are sure that the priests used this feature of the area in their rituals.

Burial grounds
The burial grounds of the complex are located both in the hilly and flat parts of the tract. According to the design features, two types of burials are distinguished: stone fences with crates of drawers inside and burial mounds with stone-earthen embankments over the graves.
The burial ground consists of 4 cysts with burial places of adults (No. 26-29) and 25 stone boxes with burial places of children, symbolic graves-cenotaphs. The remains of the buried and accompanying items were found in the graves: clay vessels, jewelry (earring, beads, clam shell) and a bronze plaque mirror. On the wall of stone box No. 22, a petroglyph was found – an image of a goat.

Settlements in Tanbaly are located exclusively in the mountain part of the tract. In a hilly terrain (small hills), settlements occupy a small area of 300 to 1200 square meters. m. and are located in various geomorphological conditions: on wide sections of valleys, gentle slopes of small gorges (sai) or on elevated sections of the so-called. “Hanging” valleys. Despite the differences in topography, all sites have a southern, southwest or southeast exposure. The presence on the majority of settlements of the remains of stationary buildings (dwellings, cattle pens), as well as the indicated location features indicate their long-term, mostly seasonal (in winter), use by the ancient herders of Tanbala.

How to get there
There are two ways to get there:
On a sightseeing bus.
By own car, breaking 170 km from Almaty to the north-west. The accumulation of petroglyphs is 5 km from the village of Karabastau.
The Tanbali tract is located in the Zhambyl district of the Almaty region north-west of the city of Almaty in the southeastern part of the Chu-Ili mountains. The Chu-Ili mountains extend from south to north from Zailiysky Alatau to Lake Balkhash and the Betpak-Dala desert. The picturesque relief of the Tanbala tract has been formed over the past 100 million years of the geological history of the Chu-Ili mountains. The main role in this process was played by tectonic movements.

The Tamgaly Tas natural boundary attracts thousands of tourists, fishermen, and climbers. In May, the annual festival of bard song is held here. It is good to come here with a tent and spend the night on the shore of Ili, next to the mysterious cave paintings and inscriptions. This is the place where you relax with your soul. So pulls there again! I want to come, and even just sit down and look, and look into the blue distance.
How to get to Tamgaly Tas from Almaty?
First we get to Kapchagay, to the post of the GAI Rubezh – it is 65 km from the intersection of the Northern Ring and Burundayskaya (Pervomaika settlement). From Rubezh to the Pisanykh Rocks, you need to drive another 30 km. The road to Kapchagay is an excellent, six-lane highway, moving in the middle row, you can safely ride at an average speed of about one hundred km / h. After the traffic police post, we first cross the bridge, and then go left, at the roundabout, to Bakanas. The Bakanan highway is not of very poor quality. After we drive 19 km from Rubezh, from far away, to the right, we see a green building – cafe Kerbulak, here we turn left onto a dirt road that is accessible for any type of transport, including low-flying vehicles.
8.5 km after the exit onto a well-packed dirt road, there will be a fork, there we turn left and drive another 2.5 km, we go to the bank of the Ili River, where we will see picturesque cliffs and gates – the entrance to Tamgaly Tas.

Tamgaly Tas – legends and hypotheses
As you know, if scientists can’t offer any reliable version of what is happening, many legends and most fantastic hypotheses are born. From century to century, people have tried to find an acceptable explanation for everything that they saw around them. There are several such assumptions about the Tamgaly Tas petroglyphs.
The most “beautiful” legend of the Buddhist mission, which back in the 10th century, following in the Seven Rivers, made a halt on the banks of the Ili River. However, the forces of nature did not allow travelers to enjoy their vacation – the earth shook, trembled and formidable rocks could not maintain their equanimity and grandeur – a huge block of stone with a crash crashed to the ground. Wise Buddhists decided that it was no accident, and, taking it as a sign, found it necessary to go back to their native India. And on the breakaway part of the rock, images of Buddhas and a Bodhisattva were left behind. That, however, this legend does not explain the purpose for which these cave paintings were carved.
The second hypothesis ascribes the authorship of petroglyphs to the Kalmyks, who made drawings and inscriptions on the rocks in Todo Bichig, a language created in the middle of the 17th century by the Buddhist monk Zaya Pandita. The research of Nikolai Pantusov also speaks in favor of this version. He makes such an assumption, referring to the stories of nomads wandering around these places who told him what they heard from their ancestors. However, this information was also stingy and insufficient, so the Kalmyk version remains in the category of assumptions and unconfirmed hypotheses.
“Stones with signs”
The name Tamgaly Tas – “Stones with signs” – was given to the tract by the very nomads who came to this area in the second half of the 19th century. What are the mysterious petroglyphs of the tract Tamgaly Tas?
The most important and significant are of course the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In addition to the drawings, the six-compound mantra Om mani padme hum is also carved on the rock – an indispensable and one of the most important attributes of Avalokiteshvara, because of which the bodhisattva of compassion is called the “Lord of Six Syllables” – Shadakshari.
Having a deep sacred meaning, this mantra, most famous in Buddhism, literally means: “Oh, a pearl that shines in a lotus flower!” However, its meaning is practically not interpreted literally – the mantra is interpreted in accordance with the meaning of each of the words that embody the purity of the body, speech in the mind of the Buddha (Om), the desire for compassion, love and awakening (Mani), wisdom (Padme) and the unity of wisdom and practice (hum).
Also, among the many petroglyphs (and there are about 1000 of them) there are ancient Türkic runic letters written on the stone “page” of the rock, dating from the 8th-9th centuries. They, according to scientists, were left by other nomads – Polovtsy.

As well as numerous cave paintings. This is a real ancient art gallery! Ancient artists of several historical eras left their creations here. Primitive, unpretentious cave paintings by ancient authors, and their scientists counted more than 4,000 drawings, were attributed to the Bronze, Turkic eras and the period of the early nomads.
On even slate surfaces you can see animals: goats, deer. Horses, bulls, camels, dogs, hunting scenes, figures of men, women. There are graceful miniature images, and there are whole canvases. A special place – Tamgaly Tas
As a rule, images of Buddhist deities were left in “special places” – where special energy was accumulated. Such places are also called “places of power.” Since ancient times, people have felt some extraordinary rise in energy and vitality at certain points on the Earth. So it was here, on the banks of the Ili River, in the tract Tamgaly Tas. Even ancient people came here to get a boost of vigor and health. And now the tradition is alive that if you only lean against the Buddha carved on the rock, the ailment will recede.
A special place – Tamgaly Tas
As a rule, images of Buddhist deities were left in “special places” – where special energy was accumulated. Such places are also called “places of power.” Since ancient times, people have felt some extraordinary rise in energy and vitality at certain points on the Earth. So it was here, on the banks of the Ili River, in the tract Tamgaly Tas. Even ancient people came here to get a boost of vigor and health. And now the tradition is alive that if you only lean against the Buddha carved on the rock, the ailment will recede.
If you come here to the Written Rocks, then be sure to go to the “Ancient City”, which is located at a distance of about 3 km. from Tamgaly Tas. This is a huge decoration, built in 2004 for the filming of the film “Nomad”, the city is in good condition. In order to get to the “Ancient City”, turn to the village of Kazakhstan and, after driving another 20-21 km, turn right, towards the left bank of the Ili.
And in May, an international tourist festival of the same name takes place in these places. Tamgaly Tas Festival is a festival of outdoor activities, extreme tourism and progressive sports.
The Tamgaly Tas natural boundary attracts thousands of tourists and climbers. The places here are beautiful, have a special energy.

Turgen is not just a beautiful location for photo shoots, there are many interesting places and options for outdoor activities.  You can see Turgen waterfalls or the historical and ethnographic open-air museum, you can go to a trout farm or an ostrich farm, or you can get to the unique Chinturgen moss spruce forests.

The Turgen Gorge is one of the most beloved places of the residents of Almaty: here are the most beautiful Turgen waterfalls. The Turgen River originates high in the mountains of Zailiysky Alatau. The current is strong, its average speed is 3 m / s. On this river rafting competitions are held annually. Also a few hundred meters from the ecological post there is a statue of the Golden Man, next to which is a spring.

How to get there

You can get to the Turgen Gorge by car along the Talgar, Kuldzhinsky highway or do part of the way along the Shymkent-Khorgos highway. Follow the direction through the city of Issyk. At the intersection near the Royal Petrol gas station, after the Tole Bi village, there will be a right turn leading to the Turgen Gorge. After 7.3 km you will see an ecological post where you should pay an environmental fee for entering the national nature park. After 0.7 km – the spring of Kiel-Bulak and the “Golden Man”. After another 2 km – trout farm. Further the road leads to waterfalls. On the Talgar highway you need to get to the village of Issyk, drive through the village. Issyk, then the same road to the village of Turgen, and then a turn into the Turgen gorge (there is a large sign).

There are very few untouched corners of nature left in the world, which, moreover, could be visited without danger to life. Almaty region is rich in such exquisite joys. Turgen Gorge is one of the most pleasant places for lovers of natural landscapes and picnics on the grass. Lands belong to the Alatau State Reserve. The name “Turgen” has two hypotheses of origin. The first is from the word “fast.” The Turgen River rushes at an average speed of 3 m / s. The second – from the “parking”, because it was here that the Europeans crossed the trade route towards China and India. The end of the road from the village of Turen reaches the majestic plateau of Assa, chosen by the ancient caravaners. Today, there, at an altitude of 2,560 m above sea level, there is a local observatory, which also receives tourists. The rocky surface will surprise with rare traces of fossilized plants that have remained in this form to please the eye since the preglacial period. Wandering along the slopes is not only aesthetically pleasing. They are tasty because they are overgrown with raspberries, barberries, apple trees, apricots, and wild rose. There is something to surprise. For example, a special type of birch, the Tien Shan, is distinguished by a peach bark. This is one of the most valuable types of wood. There is also a lot of living creatures, but it will not work to feed squirrels and roes, they are wild. Above in the rocks you need to be careful – not only foxes or badgers live there, but also bears, lynxes, and leopards.

Features of Turgen Falls

Most often they go to the Turgen Gorge to look at waterfalls, which are significantly different from each other, but there are 7 at once for a length of 44 km. To see everything, you need to have serious mountain tourism skills, since only three of them are quite accessible.

Bear waterfall

The most convenient to visit was an attractive outwardly Bear Falls.

Medvezhy Waterfall is located in the Ile-Alatau National Park at an altitude of 1559 meters above sea level and belongs to the Turgen Falls. The small river Turgen forms it, tearing off a cliff from a 30-meter height. In addition to the fact that the waterfall itself is in a very beautiful place, a turbulent and foamy stream of water literally crashes into the rock, as if trying to break through it, completing the picturesque landscape from the overhanging rocks on three sides, which were once shattered by an earthquake. The smallest splashes scatter in all directions, forming a real cloud.
The flow rate of water is 0.4 cubic meters. per second, the river is stormy and cold. On the hottest days, the temperature does not rise above 12 degrees. It is very interesting to watch the waterfall in winter. It completely freezes. Bizarre shapes complement the natural rock paintings of petrified plants, which are perfectly visible at this time of year. Athletes climb a giant icicle to the top of the mountains. On the way there are tourist signs, benches and tables for relaxation. Many nice clearings where you can sit. It is only 1-2 km from the highway on foot, it is difficult to get lost, the road is without heavy places. Suitable for families with children and the elderly.

Getting to the waterfall is very easy, therefore Medvezhy is one of the most visited and popular waterfalls in the Turgen Gorge (the distance from Almaty to the waterfall is 87 km, from the highway about 1-2 km). On the way to the waterfall there are many places where you can relax and have a bite to eat.

Kairak Waterfall

A completely different impression will be made by Kairak Falls, called the local Bozgul.

to Kairak waterfall, after the village of Batan should go to the north-west (at the fork – to the right). There is no road, you can get to the waterfall only on foot. On the way to the waterfall are Chinturgen moss spruce forests.

The road to Kairak Falls is pretty good (dirt road). It goes through the forest and takes about 3-5 hours (length – 7800 m from the fork in the village of Batan).
The height of the waterfall is about 55 m, it is of glacial origin. If you take into account the rapids, the total height will reach 74 m. The vaults of rocks give special charm, it is located in the mountains. Due to the fact that the gorge is sheltered from the sun, the earth remains always frozen 2-3 meters deep. Permafrost is affectionately covered by nature with natural moss shawls 30–40 cm thick. Chinturg spruces grow from it, which are characteristic only for the northern part of the gorge. They, along with ferns and shrubs, envelop magnificent rocks with delicate greenery. It is much more difficult and longer to get, from forestry with an average step of about 3 hours. However, it is he – the most impressive, tall and beautiful of all seven in the gorge. Rocky Opposite the Bear, on the opposite side, at a distance of 4 km is another waterfall, Rocky. It is almost as tall as Kairaksky, but has a completely different structure. It is stepped, consists of three impressive parts. But getting to it is too difficult. You need to have special training and good physical fitness. Therefore, tourists usually watch him from far away. If you become the back to the Bear, you can well consider the big picture.

Trout farming. Turgen

On the way to the Turgen waterfall there will be several trout farms. Among them is the oldest trout farm that is in the vicinity of Almaty: it was founded in 1967. Today it is one of the largest farms in Kazakhstan, where rainbow trout are bred.

Entrance to the territory of trout farming is paid, here you can catch trouts in the pond yourself. Then the catch can be attributed to be cleaned and cooked from barbecue fish, paying the cost of cooking.

On the farm there are several cozy cafes where you can order any dishes of fresh trout (including the one that you caught yourself).

Chinturgen Moss Spruce Trees

Chinturgen relict moss spruce forests are a unique natural monument, where, as if in the northern forest-tundra, beautiful spruce trees grow from moss on a thick 30-40 cm feather bed. Sunlight hardly penetrates into this narrow gorge – this was the reason that islands of permafrost, hidden under a continuous moss cover, were preserved here. The thickness of the ice in these areas is up to 2-3 m. Well, “from above” mossy spruce trees are openwork ferns and wild rose, magnificent spruce trees, mountain ash flaming in autumn, and the Chinturgen river sandwiched in a narrow gorge, carrying its stormy waters through endless stony rapids.

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Nur-Sultan Region

The futuristic modern buildings in Nur-Sultan. The “I love Astana” sign dates this to before March 2019, at which point the city was renamed Nur-Sultan.

Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana between 1998 and March 2019) is the nation’s second largest city, with a population of 1.1 million.  Almaty (pop 1.8 million) is slightly larger and was the former capital until the designation was transferred to Nur-Sultan on December 10, 1997.

Nur Sultan is a fairly young city by historical standards – less than 200 years old. However, during this time it has changed its name many times.  It was originally known as Tselinograd, then became Akmolinsk, Akmola, Astana, and now Nur-Sultan.

At present, Nur-Sultan is the youngest capital city in the world.  The city is located in the zone of dry steppes, on a plain composed of sedimentary rocks, and the Ishim River (and various tributaries) flow through the city.  Around the city you can also find many fresh and salt lakes.

Astana is at the intersection of major highways and railways, and has a modern international airport. It is a major hub and a great destination for visitors.

The city was rebuilt almost from scratch a couple of decades ago after the decision was made to designate it as the capital city.

Unusual futuristic forms of the Khan Shatyr and Astana circus buildings co-exist alongside the sky-piercing minarets of the Hazrat Sultan mosque and the Baiterek Tower.

Today, tourists come here for the beautiful embankments, wide avenues, skyscrapers, high-level hotels, original architecture, attractions, sports clubs and facilities, anime festival, the World Theater and the Young Wine Festival.

Sights of Astana

There is a great deal to see and experience in this amazing city.  Fortunately, it is easy to do so, due to the efficient city planning, with most attractions being in the new part of the city on the left bank of the Ishim River.  We mention a few.

If time allows, you should certainly allow two days to thoroughly explore and enjoy our capital city.

Baiterek Tower
This 320 ft (97m) tower is a popular symbol of both Nur-Sultan and Kazakhstan.  On the lower level is a cafe and aquarium, and in the ball itself an observation deck and a gilded handprint of the first President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev (after whom the city was renamed in 2019).

Khan Shatyr
This is the largest tent in the world, and was designed by the renowned architect, Norman Foster.  It is used as a huge shopping and entertainment center.  In addition to shops and boutiques, there are attractions for children, dinosaurs and even their own Sky Beach Club, kept at a constant temperature of 95°F/35°C, and with sand brought from the Maldives.

Akorda is the primary presidential residence and appears on the 10,000 tenge banknote.  Akorda is a large building with five floors above ground and another two underground.  It has a 3.5-ton chandelier, a central front hall, a winter garden, a library, and a series of enormous high-ceilinged halls for state occasions.  Despite its official status, the residence organizes tours of the facility for everyone.  It also hosts official receptions, press conferences.

Water-Green Boulevard
This boulevard is best considered as a single architectural ensemble that connects Khan-Shatyr with the Akorda Residence of the President, passing along the Bayterek path.  It is a great place for walking among fountains, flowers, unusual tall buildings and similarly unusual sculptures with ethnic elements of a nomadic culture.

Opera and Ballet Theatre
As you approach the opera house, you could be forgiven for feeling as if you have decreased in size, due to the massive size of the building rising above you.  The building was built in a classical style with columns in just three years, and experts from 33 countries participated in its creation.

There are many museums in and around Nur-Sultan.  One of the most notable is the Museum of the First President of Kazakhstan.  We hasten to add that in Kazakhstan there is no such personality cult as in Turkmenistan or North Korea, but there is a museum about our founding president and the life and times of his period in office (he resigned/retired in March 2019).  The museum is dedicated to the recent history of Kazakhstan associated with the first president, and you’ll see the president’s personal library, various archival documents, a collection of gifts and awards.  Another notable museum is the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan.  Everything (almost!) you want to know about the history of Kazakhstan is here.  The exhibitions are based on artifacts found as a result of excavations of the many ancient mounds and cities that cover the country.  While the exhibits are old, their presentation is not.  The most modern technologies are used, including holograms and multimedia guides.

Duman Entertainment Center
The most notable feature of this entertainment center is a large aquarium, particularly unusual because it is located at a distance of more than 2000 miles (3000 km) from the nearest sea.  Children (of all ages!) love to look at the strange inhabitants of the deep sea and take part in the show programs.  Also in Duman there is an animatronics park with moving figures of dinosaurs – in general, a place for camping with children for the whole day!

Ishim River Embankment
The river forms an approximate boundary between the older parts of the city, on its right bank, and the newer parts on its left bank.  Strolling along the river embankment is a beautiful and relaxing way to enjoy the amazing sights and skyline of Nur-Sultan.

This is a large park, which houses small models of the sights of Kazakhstan, in the form of a huge 3D map of the country.  The park and map is constantly beingupdated with new exhibits.

Palace of Peace and Accord
An unusual building, towering on a hill on the right bank of Ishim. This is a regular pyramid with a height of 62 meters.  Inside the pyramid is a concert hall, conference rooms, greenhouses, exhibition galleries and much more.  The opening celebrations included a performance by opera singer, Montserrat Caballe.

There are many mosques in the Nur-Sultan area.  Two in particular are notable.  The Nur Astana mosque is a huge mosque with four minarets decorated with gold at the top, in the very center of the city, near the Water-Green Boulevard.  Despite its size, it looks quite airy, and inside there are light walls decorated with suras from the Koran.  Even more striking is the Hazrat-Sultan Mosque on the other side of the river.  This is a magnificent shining building of white color and simply huge size.  It has the largest dome in Kazakhstan and is the largest mosque in central Asia, and capable of accommodating more than 10,000 people.

Kazakh Switzerland – as tourists and locals call it “Burabay” – a national park in Kazakhstan. Here is a unique nature combining mountains with snow-capped peaks, clear clear lakes and tall pines, filling the air with a healing aroma. People from different countries come here to relax, improve their health, gain strength and good mood.
The village of Borovskaya was founded by Cossacks who settled in these areas in the middle of the XIX century. In 1898, a forestry was established in the village, designed to protect the natural resources of the region. Soon after the revolution, Borovoye becomes a resort where tuberculosis is successfully treated with koumiss. Forests, lakes and mountains surrounding the village since 1935 have been part of the reserve, which is liquidated after 16 years. Only at the turn of the century, in 2000, the Kazakh government decided to organize the Burabay National Park. Today, this area attracts tourists from different parts of the world. The name of the park “Burabay” in translation into Russian means “camel”. According to legend, this animal, climbing to the top of the mountain, with a loud cry warned people about the approach of the enemy.
Burabay National Park – rest for every taste throughout the year! In winter, “Burabay” becomes a ski resort, where excellent mountain trails are arranged, and a ski lift operates. Beginners come to the aid of instructors. Winter ATVs, snowmobiles, sledges and cross-country skiing are popular. In summer, tourists come to the village of Borovoye to go hiking and on excursions, ride horses and jeeps. Park ponds do not go unnoticed. In Lake Borovoye, the water warms up to + 18-20 ° C, a well-maintained sandy beach with a gentle entry into the water is convenient for children and adults. The pond provides rides on water modes of transport – boats and catamarans. Lakes Schuchye, Small Chebachye, Ozernoye and Kuturkul were chosen by fishermen. You can rent gear and, if luck smiles, you can catch perch, pike perch, chebak, pike, and bream from a boat or the shore.
There are a small number of architectural monuments in the reserve, this area is famous for its beautiful natural landscapes. Unique landscapes leave a lasting impression on everyone who has been here.
The nature of Borovoe National Natural Park consists of several lakes and forests, 70% of which are pine trees.

Burabaya Lakes
The pearls of the national park are 14 lakes located on its territory. Borovoe is known for its purest water, so in clear weather you can see the inhabitants of the underwater world at a depth of several meters. Thrill-seekers are invited to conquer the Jumbactas Rock. On the coast for tourists, there are rental boats and catamarans. Guests of the resort are invited to take a boat trip to unique places located in the water area of ​​the lakes.
Burabay is under state protection, due to which the national park was able to save places with untouched virgin nature. More than 700 species of plants grow in the reserve, 12 of which are listed in the Red Book.
More than 100 species of mushrooms are found in the park, many of them edible. Therefore, in the fall, “silent hunting” is popular here. Not only locals, but also tourists are happy to spend time picking mushrooms.
On the territory of Burabay year-round sanatoriums operate. Many treatment programs are based on climatic conditions. They go to these parts to get rid of cardiovascular diseases, problems with the nervous system, digestive tract and many other diseases. Hotels and resorts in the resort offer comfortable accommodation surrounded by beautiful nature. The guests of the region have at their disposal the main infrastructure facilities providing a rich pastime.

What may surprise the Burabay park
The park has 14 large lakes and many more small ones. There are no cultural monuments here. But nature with its landscapes, mountain landscapes, blue mirror lakes and fragrant coniferous forests is a unique and unique corner, the value of which is in its natural wealth.
Once upon a time many centuries ago there was a sea. When the ice age came to an end, the sea disappeared, and the landscape took on a modern shape.
The Kokshetau mountains and the Burabay park are protected by the government, therefore, it is possible to maintain a clean environment here. The incredibly clean air is breathtaking.
The eastern shore of Lake Borovoye is excellent for swimming. Water in the summer warms up to +18 degrees. The coast is sandy, and the trees take on bizarre shapes. This place is called “dancing grove.”
Burabaya’s climate is mild, favorable for relaxing at any time of the year. In addition to enjoying the beauty of unique landscapes and the clean mountain air during walks, here you can get healthier in sanatoriums and mud clinics.
You can stroll through the scenic spots on horseback – such a service is also provided here.
The park has a variety of excursion routes that allow you to enjoy the charming nature of these places, see various sights.
What do tourists offer:
-climb to the Khan pass, from the observation deck of which a beautiful mountain panorama opens;
-to visit the glade of Abalai Khan and the cave of Kenesary;
-to visit the lakes Big Chebachye and Borovoe, on the thresholds of the Imanaevsky spring;
-Hear a legend in a dancing forest;
-climb the mountain Bolek-tau;
-Learn a lot of interesting things about the inhabitants of the park.

What can I see?
Mount Bolektau. It is the most convenient and easiest mountain to climb in the area. It has a beautiful view of the Blue Bay of Lake Borovoe. You can use any route to climb the mountain. Getting lost is very difficult. Move upward boldly into two parts. First, a steep slope and a large number of large stones. Here the most trodden path alone. For convenience, white marks are drawn on the trees. Getting lost is very difficult. The second part of the climb is much more gentle. There are no small stones. No cool places. A smooth rise and many roots for which it is convenient to cling to your feet if you are in comfortable shoes. That’s the whole climb! An observation deck awaits you on it, from where you can see the Blue Bay of Lake Borovoe. Lonely rock – Okzhetpes. To the right at the very beginning of the mountain range are the cliffs of Three Sisters. And the observation deck, by the way, is well-groomed. It is convenient to walk here. There is nothing underfoot.

Lake Borovoe
This lake is located in the northern part of Kazakhstan, between the city of Astana and the town of Kokchetau. Truly a beautiful place, here indescribable landscapes, majestic mountains, emerald meadows and a pristine lake. Thanks to the local beauty, many people call this place differently, some as an oasis, others as Kazakh Switzerland.
It’s worth noting that powerful peaks surround the local lake, the first is Blue Mountain (947 meters high), Camel Mountain (690 meters high), a very beautiful landscape of the lake opens from Camel Mountain, and you should not forget about the Lonely War mountain ( 862 meters high).
In addition to the beautiful Lake Borovoye, there is a couple more – Schuchye, Bolshoy and Maloye Chebache, Kotyrkol.
As for the lake itself, it is crystal clear, you can even see the bottom. But we warn you right away, it is forbidden to swim on the west and north-west coast, since they are completely overgrown with reeds and reeds. The rest of the coast, completely open for swimming, mainly consists of sand, but in places it is a little rocky. The bottom of the lake, besides being clean, is even, with a slight slope to the north. According to many doctors, the water of this lake has healing properties.
There are a couple of attractions that are worth noting, for example – the Sphinx (Zhumbaktas), a small rocky island that resembles a mushroom in some form. In addition, Okzhetpes peak (300 meters high) is located on its shore.
This lake is considered the property of the Burabay State National Natural Park.
On the territory of this lake is the famous resort of Burabay. This place is ideal for lovers of a relaxing holiday. In this resort there are a large number of hotels, with various levels of comfort.
Katarkol Lake
Perhaps one of the best lakes in Borovoye. Truly beautiful with a beautiful beach, which is “dotted” with forest thickets. Next to it is a small village called Katarkol, in which tourists often stop. In addition to it, there is also a couple of lakes here, but at the moment we will tell you about Lake Katarkol.
Regarding the lake – it is not deep, only 5 meters, it is probably the “smallest” in the whole Borovoy in terms of depth and size. The average depth of the neighbors of this reservoir is usually 9 meters, of course there is one that has distinguished itself, this is Shchuchye, its depth is 18 meters. The water in it is crystal clear, but the coast is not quite, in the sense that the northwestern part is completely overgrown with reeds and reeds. Despite such thickets, the lake still remains clean.
The coast mainly consists of sand, there are also stone sections, but they are not significant. As we said earlier, the shore is “dotted” with forest thickets, on the contrary, it gives more elegance, thanks to them you can calmly soak up the shore under any tree and not think about anything.
This lake is very popular among vacationers, there is a huge stream of visitors, here everyone will find something to do for themselves, you can just relax on the beach, or walk through the forest, by the way, here you can rent a boat for fishing, or just go for a drive.
Lake Tekekol
This lake is especially popular among Borovoy resorts. The highlight of this reservoir is that it is crystal clear, with a depth of 8 meters, you can easily see the bottom with ease.
As mentioned earlier, the lake is still quite popular, and what the coast is worth, you can organize a picnic on it, by the way there are specially equipped sites for this. In the mornings you can watch a beautiful sunrise, during the day you can soak up the beach, or swim in the lake, in the evening admire the beautiful sunset.
In addition to just relaxing, you have a great opportunity to go fishing, as it is very rich in fish. It is worth noting some types of fish: pike (on average five kilograms, there are more and more), perches (starting from one kilogram or more), carp, or common carp (average five, six kilograms). There are other types of fish, for example: ripus, peled, but there are not so many of them.

Lake Shchuchye
This lake is located in the southwestern part of the Borovoye resort. An important fact is that it is located at an altitude of 400 meters above sea level. In this lake you can swim enough, as the depth reaches 18 meters, by the way, the reservoir is the deepest and largest in the whole Borovoye resort. Moreover, it itself is part of the Burabay National Park.
Once this lake was much larger, due to the fact that various streams and mountain rivers flowed into it, but everything changed dramatically in the 20th century, due to human intervention. Streams and rivers have changed their direction and due to this, the amount of incoming water and size have decreased significantly. But, despite this, the lake is also attractive, and a large number of tourists come here to relax.
This place is decorated with a mountain range called Kokshetau, also here is a very famous peak called Burabay. Locals refer to her as a camel, due to the fact that it is somewhat reminiscent of camel humps. Do not forget about the peak “Sopka Zheke-batyr”, which is one of the largest in the area. All these natural attractions only emphasize the uniqueness of Lake Shchuchye.
For the convenience of tourists, the Shchuchinsk resort was equipped in the vicinity of the lake, in which everyone will find something to do for themselves. Here you can just relax, sunbathe on the beach, or rent a boat, well, or a boat to just swim, and outdoor enthusiasts have the opportunity to go fishing, by the way, there are quite a lot of fish here. This boarding house hosts fishing competitions.
Rock Okzhetpes
Harmonious summit of Ok-Jeteps (in translation means “do not submit to the arrow”). It is located in the northwestern part of Lake Borovoe, literally a stone’s throw from this rock to the town of Burabay. The top is almost completely “dotted” with vegetation. The height of the whole mountain reaches 300 meters, in addition, it is the lighthouse of Lake Auliekol.
There are a lot of legends and stories about this rock, it is not known whether there is at least one truthful among them, or is it just someone’s fiction. It is worth noting that there are a lot of different mountains in Borovoy, but it is Ok-Jetpes that stands out in its own way, which may be why it inspired the poet Saken Seyfullin to write a poem about her under the title “Kokshetau”. The poet sought to emphasize the grandeur and beauty of this rock. In addition, the writer “revealed” and paraphrased a bit, to the contemporary style, one of the famous stories about this mountain.
Skala Okzhetpes, translated from Kazakh “does not reach an arrow” is Burabai’s visiting card, its image is certainly on souvenir products, every vacationer is photographed on its background, it flaunts on paper notes of Kazakh tenge of the 1993 model.
Around Okzhetpes many beautiful and sad legends are composed. According to one of them, Khan Abylay after another victory returned with rich booty and captive girls. The hands of the most beautiful girl were sought by many warriors and the khan himself. But the captive did not want to marry them, she climbed onto Okzhetpes rock and ordered the soldiers to shoot at the headscarf, which they tied at the top. Whose arrow would reach the headscarf, the beauty would marry. But not a single arrow reached the summit, and the girl threw herself from a high cliff into the waters of the lake. And at the place of her death, the rock of Zhumbaktas – the “Stone-riddle” was formed.
Rock Jumbactas
This rock is located in the north of Lake Borovoe, it stands right in the middle of the bay, which flows between the foothills of Kokshe and Temirtau. This island consists mainly of granite “mattresses”. They name the island – Zhumbaktas, which means a mysterious stone, by the way, it somewhat resembles the famous Egyptian Sphinx, but with a soulless outline. For some reason, some of this rock is associated with a girl whose wind develops her hair, as they say how many people, so many opinions.
By the way, if you look at the rock from the glade of Ablai Khan, it seems that this is a well-known cartoon hero Cheburashka, and if you look from the boat station, it already seems that this is the silhouette of a girl. As we mentioned earlier, this island resembles the Sphinx, but this is only when you look at it from the Okzhetpes sanatorium. This rock is so beckoning with something, no one has left it in a bad mood.
When looking from different sides at the Zhumbaktas rock – no less recognizable sight of Lake Borovoy, you can see how its appearance is changing. At times, the rock resembles a girl, perhaps the very one described in the legend.
For outdoor enthusiasts, they organize trips to this peak. To do this, you need to have climbing equipment, but if you do not have it, then you should not worry, you can rent it in the city of Burabay. If you have climbing experience, then you can climb without equipment, but we warn you in advance, the slope at this peak is very steep.

Throne and glade of Abylay Khan
This glade is located in a spacious forest, off the coast of Borovoe. This area is surrounded by attractions such as the peak of Ok-Jetpes and the foothills of Kokshe. But first, a little history. These possessions belonged at one time to Abylay Khan, and they also served as a defensive fortress for the army. At the top of the Oak Jetpes, the guards were constantly on duty to prevent sudden attacks. As indicated in history, the battles here took place mainly in the summer. Despite the fact that the meadow is dedicated to Khan Abylay, a monument to him was erected only in 1991.
It is worth noting that the locals refer to this area as “Clear”, due to the fact that the moon is reflected very brightly on a clear night. It is impossible to mention that this area is a unique natural monument, and it is unique due to its climate, since the local temperature, it doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter, it is still 2 degrees higher than anywhere else. According to scientists, under the soil of this meadow there is a granite slab, but unfortunately, under the influence of time, it crumbles, releasing harmful substances that destroy the local soil. One of the amazing facts is that there is a prolonged emission of ultraviolet radiation, which favorably affects the human body, since ultraviolet rays contribute to the production of red blood cells in the human body, stabilize hemoglobin, and also produce vitamin D.
There are interesting trails in the Burabay National Park, following which you can see springs, waterfalls, cultural and historical sights, bizarre rocks, ancient legends are associated with each of them, even there are caves. There are equipped viewing platforms.

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Other Regions 1

Aktau is located in the southwestern part of Kazakhstan and every year it becomes more and more interesting for tourists, because rest on the Caspian Sea is a combination of active pastime on the water, fishing, relaxing treatments in hotels and hiking in the Mangyshlak nature reserve.
A little about Aktau Aktau is the center of the Mangistau region and is located on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea, at Cape Melovoy. The city was founded only in 1961 after the discovery of uranium deposits in the area. First, the village of Aktau appeared with a nuclear power plant that extracts uranium ore and processes and enriches it. Over time, the pace of work increased, new people were required, and the government of the USSR adopted a decree establishing the city. In 1963, it was built according to the plan of the Leningrad Design University for several years and was named Shevchenko, in honor of the poet from Ukraine Taras Shevchenko, who was serving a link here.

A distinctive feature of the settlement is the complete absence of reservoirs with drinking water: the city is supplied with recycled sea water. A feature of the natural relief is the mountainous terrain, caves, gorges, canyons. About 48 km from the city there is the deepest depression on the land of Kazakhstan Karagie, which means “Black Mouth” in Kazakh. Its depth is 132 m from sea level, and at its bottom is a small lake Batyr, in which the water periodically evaporates, and the bottom covered with salt marshes is exposed.

Climatic conditions Aktau in Kazakhstan (a holiday on the Caspian Sea popular among travelers) welcomes guests all year round, but the tourist season can be divided into 2 types: active and low. The first includes months with hotter weather – from May to October, and during the period from November to April, the flow of tourists significantly decreases.

Active season: May. The average air temperature during the day is 21 ° C, and the sea temperature is 15.6 ° C. Daylight hours are 14 hours. Total cloudy days are from 1 to 5. June. Opening time of the beach season: daytime air temperature 27 ° C, at night falls to 24 ° C. The pond warms up to 20 ° C, and daylight hours are extended to 15 hours. July. One of the 2 hottest months: during the day the air temperature rises to 32 ° C, and at night it drops to 28 ° C. The sea is warmed up to 23 ° C. Most of the month there are sunny days. August. During the day, the air temperature warms up to 31 ° C, at night it reaches 27.5 ° C. The average sea temperature is 23.3 ° C. The average rainfall is 6.3 mm, making August the driest month of the year.

How to get to Aktau
 Aktau in Kazakhstan (tourists are more and more interested in the holiday on the Caspian Sea every year) – the city is quite developed and there are no problems with transport, but in order to get here, it is better to choose a train or plane, as pits and in places there is no asphalt. The airport is located about 30 km from the city.

Beaches Aktau
There are several beaches for recreation in Aktau. Nurplaza beach is the largest in the city, and is located on the territory of the hotel of the same name. Admission is free, but rent is required for the use of sun loungers, gazebos and umbrellas.

Every year, before the start of the beach season, sand is imported here, which is carefully sifted. From entertainment there are rides on a banana, catamaran, yachts and boats. On the territory there is a parking lot and there are several cafes.

Manila Beach
The beach is located near the city center. A distinctive feature of the place is the use of alcoholic beverages in the territory, and smoking is allowed only in specially designated places. Admission is free, but all services, including the rental of a deck chair and barbecue, shower, toilet and car parking are paid. On the beach there is a cafe, left-luggage offices, a bathhouse and a sauna. From entertainment – jet skis and boats that can be rented. Marrakesh Beach There is a beach near the resort complex of Chagall. Entrance to the territory is free, but you need to pay for a shower, toilet and use of sun loungers. Also, for violation of public order, the visitor will be punished with a fine.

There are several restaurants and cafes, and for entertainment, visitors are invited to jump from the tower and ride a jet ski, banana or boat.

The main attractions of the city
Sea port
 The port in Aktau is the only port in the republic, which makes it also a sea gate. The construction of the facility was carried out in 1963 and was strategically important for the USSR, since the whole city was formed because of land rich in minerals. The purpose of the construction is international transportation of oil products and dry cargo. The place is the most important point of the transport corridor Europe-Asia. The location of the port in the city is Munailinsky district.

Botanical Garden
The opening of the garden took place in 1972, today it is included in the international registry of unique natural sites. It was created to address the prevention of problems of the gene pool of domestic and world flora. The garden covers 39 hectares and contains 1270 species of plants. During working hours, from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00, excursions are held. The location of the garden is the intersection of Satpayev Ave. and the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
 Monument Caravel Columbus Santa Maria
Columbus Monument is one of the main symbols of the city. It is a small copy of the ship on which Christopher Columbus went in search of India, but discovered America. 40 masters of the city worked on the creation of the ship. The total height of the work is 11.8 m, weight is 150 tons. Location – Astana Square, in front of the Akimat. Lighthouse A monument in the form of a lighthouse was erected in 2013 in the 14th microdistrict on the territory of the embankment. It is a symbol of the 50th anniversary of the seaport and the city, and has a height of 3.5 m. The lighthouse is made of glossy tiles and natural cameo, decorative lighting is mounted inside. The monument is given the value of a talisman that protects the city from adversity. Monument to the MiG-21 fighter A monument is located on Victory Boulevard and is a copy of the multi-role fighter. It is installed in a position that maximizes the rapid climb.

Attractions near Aktau
 In the vicinity of the city you can also see many interesting places. The underground mosque and the Shakpak-ata necropolis The mosque is carved in a stone cape between 2 ravines. Shakpak-ata from the Kazakh language is translated as “elder-flint” and has a connection with the legend: once there lived an old man who, striking the stones with his sword, fired fire and terrified the enemies and enemies.

Shakpak-ata has the shape of a Latin cross and has 2 entrances: main and household. Wide depressions are located on either side of the first, where local preachers were previously buried. The main entrance is decorated with steps, an arch and numerous images of an open palm and ornaments. The mosque also has 4 rooms, and at its foot on the slope there is an ancient cemetery formed in the early Middle Ages. The point of interest is 89 km from the center of Aktau, in the Shily-Kuduk tract.

Ancient settlement of Kyzyl-Kala
Kyzyl-Kala is translated from the Kazakh language “Red City” and today is the ruins of the once important settlement, which was located on the Silk Road. Its occurrence dates back to the second half of the 10th century. During the excavation, ancient coins, jewelry, dishes, vessels for products, Indian and Egyptian glass were found.
The Red City now is only fragments of the fortress wall and the remains of the foundation of several buildings. The attraction is located 95 km from the center of Aktau, at the foot of Sherkaly Mountain. The Mangyshlak Aktau Peninsula in Kazakhstan (holidays on the Caspian Sea attract more and more tourists every year) is not only a resort area, but also a point of the unique Mangyshlak nature reserve. The place is also known by the second name “Mangistau”. On its territory live more than 190 species of animals, many of which are endangered. Among the inhabitants are: flamingos; steppe eagle; owl; snake-eater; bustard; cheetah; Caracal, Usturian mouflon.

There are also about 260 plant species on the island, and recent studies have uncovered mineral deposits such as oil, rock crystal, rare ore and manganese. The peninsula is 119 km from the center of Aktau.
Tamshaly Canyon
The canyon has a length of 12 km, and at the beginning there is Lake Tamshaly. On its left side, where the descent to the pond is equipped, there are ancient stone fences that previously served as a cattle shelter.
Also in the canyon there are 2 sources of water, breaking through a stone platform and flowing down in thin streams. The attraction is located in the Tupkaragan district, 116 km from the center of Aktau. Ustyurt National Park The park covers an area of ​​223 thousand hectares and is protected by the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It was founded in 1984 to preserve the natural look of the Ustyurt Plateau, some species of plants and animals. More than 263 species of fauna species grow on its territory, 5 of them are endangered: the katran is toothless; solid euphorbia; Khiva solyanka; chalk madder; soft-fruited cremolist.

This is a fascinating place, particularly for photographers and students of industrial history.

Aralsk was formerly a busy seaport on the world’s fourth largest lake – the Aral Sea.  Look around you now, and you’ll be unlikely to see any water at all.

Unfortunately, Soviet planners diverted two rivers feeding into the lake (sea) to irrigate desert where it was planned cotton could be grown.

This meant that during the 1970s, the lake started to shrink and fish started to die.  For a short while in the 1980s Uzbekistan did report large increases in cotton production, but that was temporary.

The project was a failure, and with the loss of most of its feedwaters, the Aral Sea has shrunk to about 1/10th its former size.  This has concentrated the salt and other chemicals in the water, causing the fish to die, and the exposed former lake bed has become arid and desert-like.

Although a lot of the stranded ships and boats have now been cut up and removed, if you stroll around you’ll see signs of the former maritime nature of this town.

There is hope for the future.  Kazakhstan has built a dam at the south end of what is now termed the Small Aral Sea, and that is causing the water level to raise once more, with fishing returning, and with the fish, the fishing industry too.  More than 5,000 people have returned to the area since the damn was built in 2005.

Baikonur (from the Kazak. Baққңyr “rich valley”) is the first and largest cosmodrome in the world. Located on the territory of Kazakhstan, in the Kyzylorda region. The spaceport is leased from Russia until 2050. The first launch was carried out on May 15, 1957. The facility covers an area of ​​more than 6 thousand square kilometers.
The city of Baikonur. On its territory live more than 70 thousand people. There is a checkpoint, because the settlement itself is a sensitive facility. Also rented from Kazakhstan. You can get to the launch facilities of the cosmodrome from the city in about half an hour only on a specially organized transfer.
The first artificial Earth satellite and the first manned space flight were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, manned spacecraft of the Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz series were launched. Orbital stations of the Salyut and Mir series, the reusable Energy system – Buran, interplanetary spacecraft and artificial Earth satellites.

How to get there
Baikonur is located 240 kilometers from Kyzylorda, near the M-32 Samara-Shymkent highway and the Aktobe-Kyzylorda railway line, on which trains such as Moscow-Bishkek, Moscow-Tashkent and many inside Kazakhstan pass. Near the city there is also an international (there are flights only to Moscow) Krainy Airport.
The Krainy airport, which is closest to the city and the cosmodrome, receives mainly charter flights from Moscow and sometimes other cities of Russia and Kazakhstan. The airport building is small and designed for limited passenger traffic. The runway is capable of receiving TU-134, А310, А320 and lighter aircraft, as well as helicopters of all types. Charter flights timed to coincide with the launch days to the Extreme airport are organized by Cosmos Airline CJSC.
More often tourists fly to the city of Kyzylorda (located 240 km from the cosmodrome). There are direct flights from Moscow, from other cities to Kyzylorda you can fly with a connection in Astana and Almaty. Kyzylorda travel companies organize transfers to Baikonur.
In addition, from Kyzylorda you can take a train to the nearest Tyura-Tam station to Baikonur.
There are several large hotels within the city – “Baikonur”, “Central”, “Sputnik”. There are also several small hotels – Lightning, Sakura, Cosmonaut, Yuzhnaya. The total capacity of the room stock is about 400 people. You can also stay in guest houses and dormitories.

Now tourists have a unique opportunity to take a tour on manned and unmanned spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. For three days they can take a sightseeing tour of the cosmodrome, an excursion to the “Gagarin launch”, visit the Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, memorial houses of Yuri Gagarin and Sergey Korolev.

They will also examine launch sites and famous historical sites of the cosmodrome. For example, Soyuz and Proton complexes, Proton installation and test buildings and RSC Energia. Enjoy a sea of ​​information about creating a space town, conquerors of the Universe, memorable places.
During the trip, you can look at the Syr Darya river, admire the church of St. Great Martyr George the Victorious.
Possible objects to visit while traveling
• Monitoring the export of missiles from the assembly and test building
• Monitoring the installation of the Soyuz rocket at the launch site
• Inspection of the launch complex “Proton”
• Seeing the crew of astronauts from the Cosmonaut Hotel
• Visit to the Cosmonauts Alley
• Visit to square 1 of the launch complex “Gagarinsky start”
• Visit to the construction of 61 square 250a: a center for the preparation, refueling and launch of the Energy program
• Inspection of TUA “Energy Buran” at 112
• Observation of the report of cosmonauts of the state commission on flight readiness
• Excursion to the museum complex of the Baikonur cosmodrome: the cosmodrome museum, the Buran orbital ship, memorial houses of Yu. Gagarin and SP Korolev
• Inspection of the measuring complex “Saturn”
• Sightseeing tour of Baikonur with a visit to the museum
• Visit to the International Space School. V.N. Chelomeya
• Launch Monitoring
Tourist sites of the city
All the sights of the city are connected with the history of space exploration. All objects can be visited within a few hours walk.
Monument to Gagarin
One of the significant sights of Baikonur is the monument to Gagarin. The monument is a figure of the first astronaut in the world who raised his hands to the sky as a greeting. Each guest of the closed city visits this place.
Soyuz rocket
A little south of the monument to Gagarin, near the road is a grandiose model of the Soyuz rocket. Initially, it was used for testing and training at the cosmodrome.
Monument to Yangel
Near the city CHP there is a monument to one of the main rocket scientists of the USSR – Mikhail Yangel. A bust of Yangel and one of his creations, a model of an intercontinental ballistic missile, are installed here.
Disaster Nedelin
In memory of the tragedy of October 24, 1960, a monument was erected in the city. On this day, tests of the R-16 rocket were carried out, an explosion occurred due to an error. As a result, 78 people within a radius of 50 meters instantly died, including Marshal Nedelin.
In addition, you can see the monuments to many rocket scientists and scientists: Korolev, Nedelin, Ryazansky, Pilyugin.

Museum of Baikonur History
The museum has a unique collection. The exhibition presents rocket models that relate to various stages of the development of technology. In addition, one of the most interesting exhibits is the model of the International Space Station.
This is a huge missile launch complex, the first and largest cosmodrome in the world. It is located on an area of ​​6717 square meters. km, 30 kilometers from the city of Baikonur. The Baikonur Cosmodrome appeared in 1957. Now there are several launch sites, a huge Yubileiny aerodrome, the Cosmonautics Museum, as well as assembly and testing complexes and control centers.
The very first and main object of the Baikonur Cosmodrome is launch pad No. 1, also called the Gagarinsky Start. It was from here that the first artificial Earth satellite, the ship with the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, started. More than 600 rocket launches into space have already been completed from it, and today it is also used to send astronauts to the ISS.
Launch pad No. 31 is the second most important at the spaceport. It is needed to send cargo ships to the ISS. And also, to launch Proton heavy cargo rockets in Baikonur, there is launch pad No. 81.
Also located here is the Yubileiny airfield, which was built to land the Buran space shuttles. Unfortunately, a huge runway with a length of 4,500 meters took this ship only once, and the project was closed.
Museum of the Baikonur Cosmodrome
The cosmodrome houses a museum with an extensive collection of exhibits, photographs, the real elements of rockets – engines, skins, navigation devices, and much more.
It is located in the central part of the facility, and consists of three parts: a spacious two-story building, an open-air exhibition on the left, and two historic houses on the right, where the main rocket engineer of the USSR, Sergey Korolev, and the first cosmonaut of the world, Yuri Gagarin, lived.

Lake Balkhash is a resort place, which is characterized by amazing nature. The uniqueness of this region is that it is filled with contrasts. The reservoir here is divided into two parts by a narrow strait, but its peculiarity is that the water in these two basins has a different chemical composition. In the western and more full-flowing parts, the water is fresh and slightly cloudy, and in the east it is salty and completely transparent with an unusual emerald hue.
In addition, Balkhash is included in the list of the largest reservoirs in the world, which is complemented by picturesque landscapes. So, the lake is surrounded by mountains, desert and Kazakh steppes. Not far from this place are ore deposits, the impurities of which create exciting color effects. That is why the beaches and water in this place look fantastic. It is not always possible to see with your own eyes sand with a distinct reddish-brown tint.
It is not surprising that Lake Balkhash is considered one of the favorite vacation spots of many Kazakhstanis. Over time, people from other countries also began to come here, contributing to the development of local infrastructure. Now it is a developed tourist destination, which is ready to offer conditions with different levels of comfort for an unforgettable vacation.
Amazing Balkhash Lake
The most favorable time for a trip to Lake Balkhash is the period from June to early September. Here you will find clean water, fine sand and wonderful nature. In summer, the air temperature in this region can reach + 40 ° C, but the water warms up to + 25 ° C. In November, Balkhash freezes and the ice stays on the lake until early April. Precipitation is extremely low: the monthly average does not exceed 11-12 mm. The wettest month for this region is May, when up to 16 mm of rain can occur.
The area of ​​the lake is about 17,000 square meters. km, it ranks second in size in Central Asia after the Aral Sea.
The northern shores of the reservoir are rocky and high, and the southern shores are low and sandy, covered with reed beds. The winding coast is indented by bays and bays. The average depth of Balkhash is about 6 meters, the maximum is 26 meters. The width of the lake is from 74 km in the western part to 3 km in the narrowest place of the eastern half. There are few islands in the reservoir, the largest of them are Basaral and Tasaral.
Despite the fact that Balkhash itself is considered an amazing natural phenomenon in order to diversify the rest, you can visit the tract Bektau-Ata. This place is also called extinct volcanoes of Kazakhstan. Here is amazing nature, where two different landscapes are combined: the steppe and granite. Moreover, the frozen granite rocks have a rather interesting pinkish tint. They rise hundreds of meters above the plain and offer an enchanting view. Due to the effects of wind and sun, hard rocks have been washed out here for millennia, which is why they have acquired bizarre shapes. Therefore, photographers often come here in search of inspiration, because in this place you can find many interesting camera angles. A kind of decoration of the lake are about 60 species of rare plants that do not have roots and grow directly from the water.
The Kazakh people created a beautiful legend about the emergence of the lake. The sorcerer Balkhash was looking for his daughter Or the strongest and richest bridegroom. Many worthy applicants fought for the beauty’s hand, but her heart was given to poor shepherd Karatal. Not wanting to marry a rich, but unloved, Or ran away from her father with Karatal. The evil sorcerer enchanted the young people, and they turned into two rivers, rushing towards each other. But, not wanting the lovers to connect, even as rivers, Balkhash turned into a huge lake between them.
In addition, not far from Lake Balkhash is the city of the same name, on the territory of which you can find various architectural sights. You can visit here in order to better study the history of Kazakhstan, as well as understand the culture and customs of the local population
Tourists will always find something to do on Lake Balkhash. There are many options for both active and passive recreation. Fans of the first option are offered trips on catamarans, scooters, boats, speed boats, water skiing, etc. Various sports events and competitions are constantly held here that will not let you get bored. If you came just to relax your body and soul, then you will only need the warm sun, clean beaches and water, as well as walks in the surroundings.
People also often come here for recreational purposes. After all, fresh springs, salt water, as well as dirt found near ponds, have healing properties.
There is something to do for fishing lovers. Moreover, people come here to fish even in winter, despite the fact that the weather in the cold season can be quite severe.
Vacationers will enjoy a varied and exciting holiday on the water: boating, yacht, scooter, swimming, surfing and diving. On Balkhash, kayaking and fishing competitions are often held, in which everyone who is confident, self-confident can take part.

If you come to the lake in winter, then you are waiting for skiing, windsurfing on ice, snowmobiling.
Riding on horses and camels in the vicinity of the reservoir will be unforgettable.
If you want to enjoy the beauty of Lake Balkhash from above, you can take part in a helicopter tour. Flight prices range from 26 to 38 thousand rubles for 3.5 hours of flight, depending on the type of aircraft. You can book an excursion at recreation centers and in hotels.
What to see
The picturesque tract Bektau-Ata is a natural attraction of the surroundings of Balkhash, towering over the Kazakh steppes 70 km from the lake. Bizarre cliffs alternate with deep gorges. Many cliffs have names: “Mushroom”, “Turtle”, “Trunk”. Aborigines consider the surroundings of the tract holy ground.
Another natural attraction is Aulie-Tas Cave, which is located just in the Bektau-Ata natural boundary. There are many legends associated with this cave. But the most interesting is that at its bottom there is a spring with fresh water, which, according to legend, has healing properties.
Around Lake Balkhash there are many archaeological sites, protected by the state and open to visitors. Ancient burial mounds and sites give an idea of ​​the life and customs of ancient settlers. The most impressive sights: Aktasty and Klysh mound, groups of mounds near the wintering of Karasu and Ken Dara gorge, Dermen and Dongal camps, Aydagarli cave. The place of pilgrimage for tourists is an example of the cult architecture of Mazar Ak Becket of the 18th century. Mazar – a construction on the burial sites in the form of a round yurt.
Vacationers interested in the culture and history of the local people can visit the Museum of Local Lore of Balkhash.

How to get there
There are several ways to get to the bases and rest houses on the west coast of Lake Balkhash (Chubar-Tyubek and Torangalyk) from Almaty.
o By car. The total distance is about 610-620 km. Travel time is approximately 8-9 hours. From Almaty you need to go along the M-36 highway.
o Regular bus (runs daily).
You can independently get from Almaty to the “salty” part of Balkhash (near the village of Lepsy):
o by car (450 km from Almaty);
o by train to st. Lepsy;
o take advantage of the transfer service provided by the Balkhash-Lepsy recreation center (from Almaty and from Lepsy station).

You can get from Nur Sultan:
o Fly from Astana to Karaganda, from where three times a week the Zhezkagan Air company operates flights to the city of Balkhash.
o From Astana to Balkhash can be reached by train, which will take you a day, or by bus – 10 hours.
o Most of the bases and hotels are located 6-12 km from the city, you can get here by taxi or bus.


Mangistau region is very rich in historical monuments – in this area there are about 360 saints revered by the local population. One of the most outstanding historical and spiritual monuments of the region, of course, is the underground mosque of Becket Ata.
The Beket-Ata Underground Mosque is located in the foothills of the Ustyurt Plateau, territorially related to the Mangistau Region on the Mangyshlak Peninsula in Kazakhstan. Getting to her is not so easy. You need to overcome hundreds of kilometers through the desert, and then walk a few more kilometers. However, despite the difficult accessibility, the Beket-Ata mosque is an object of pilgrimage for a huge number of people. It was founded by one of the most revered Kazakh religious figures and preachers of Sufism Beket-Ata, who during his life was famous for the gift of healing not only the body, but also the soul. The saint’s grave is located right in the mosque. This is a place with special energy. Believers say that after visiting the necropolis, real miracles happen to them.
Mangyshlak Peninsula is one of the most beautiful and mysterious places on the Caspian Sea coast. It is separated from the deserts of Central Asia by the Sarykamysh depression and the Ustyurt plateau, known to travelers for its fantastic landscapes with stone statues, which in ancient times were the bottom of the ocean. The plateau is unsuitable for human life. Even nomadic tribes never stayed here for a long time. But the territories bordering it provide people with slightly more liveable conditions. But in any case, these places, even in the 21st century, are still extremely far from civilization. It is all the more strange that most of not only natural, but also historical monuments of Kazakhstan are located here.
Becket Ata Mosque is located on the border of the Ustyurt plateau. The distance from the nearest settlement to Senek is 115 kilometers. And from the nearest city of Zhanaozen to the mosque, about 150 kilometers. It is hard to believe, but at the end of the last century, believers traveled all this way on foot. I had to go under the scorching sun. Today, few pilgrims decide on such a test. Most come here by car. For a long time it was possible to get to the mosque only on a dirt road, which created certain difficulties. But more recently, a highway was laid to the shrine.
In front of the underground mosque, believers try to visit another important shrine – the Shopan-Ata mosque. It is located on the road to the necropolis of Becket Ata. This is an earlier building dating back to the 12th – 13th centuries. Two religious sights are tightly interconnected, since Sopan-Ata played one of the key roles in the life of Becket-Ata, even though they have been separated for centuries.
The mosque-tomb of Shopan-Ata was cut down in an array of precinct rock and probably arose earlier than the cemetery. There is such a legend about its creation. Once, Ahmed Yassaui trained a number of his followers and gathered them in a yurt, telling them that through the shanyrak they should shoot arrows and would have to preach the ideas of Sufism where these arrows will be found. A pupil of Shopan-Ata found his arrow on the top of the mountain near the village of the rich cattle-farmer Bayan and hired a shepherd shopan to join the bai. However, Bayan soon realized that he was not an ordinary person in the workers, and married him to his daughter. Later, Shopan-Ata built an underground mosque at the top of the mountain on which his arrow fell.
Becket Ata
Between the 12th and 13th centuries, wandering ascetics came to Mangyshlak who preached Sufism. There are several legends about their appearance. All of them are connected with the name of a real person by the name of Khoja Ahmet Yassawi, who was one of the first Sufi preachers. Traditions say that Khoji Ahmet threw the staff of wisdom towards Mangyshlak, after which he sent 360 of his students in search of him. When the students found the staff, he had already grown into the ground and turned into a tree. So the followers of Yassaui remained on the peninsula to spread his philosophical teachings. You can find small details about some of them; there is no information about others at all. However, the inhabitants of Mangyshlak call it “holy land”, relying on the fact that 360 saints once lived and preached here. The most famous of them are Shopan-ata, Masat-ata, Kenti-Baba, Sultan-epe, Shakpak-ata, Koshkar-ata.

The main places of religious worship were structures unexpected for the area – underground mosques. At that time several such structures appeared on Mangyshlak at once. For Islam, the construction of underground temples was unusual. But for Christianity with its rocky monasteries and cave churches, this was quite traditional. Most likely, the appearance of mosques underground is associated with the mixing of a large number of cultures that appeared and disappeared on Mangyshlak. As a result, something completely new was formed.
The cult of saints also does not fit into Islam, but is important for Sufis. Becket-Ata has become a key figure for the adherents of Sufism. He is revered as a saint. He loved people very much, was indifferent to their burdens, taught them to be fair and kind.
Quite a lot is known about Becket-Ata. He was born in 1750 in the village of Kuysary. From an early age, he experienced an incredible craving for knowledge and had a living mind. As the legends say, at the age of 14, Beket-Ata came to bow to the dust of Shopan-Ata. During an overnight stay in the mosque, the sage appeared as a young man and gave the order to study. So, the young guy went to distant Khiva for knowledge. He graduated from the madrasah (the emphasis is on the last syllable) – a Muslim religious education school. After studying, Becket-Ata began to practice medicine. He even undertook the treatment of nervous patients and people with disabilities, achieving great results in this matter. Legends go about his incredible physical strength and orator’s talent.
Reaching 40 years, Becket-Ata became a Sufi. The doctrine of Sufism suggests that in this life a person can know God and come closer to him. They devote themselves to self-improvement. Their path of spiritual development was called “tariq”.
Becket Ata devoted great importance in his teachings to questions of morality, dignity, and unity. People went to him for help and advice. But that is not all. He was a jack of all trades and dismantled in construction. During his life, Becket-Ata built four mosques. By the way, all of its buildings are still in good condition. Followers do not allow them to fall into desolation, their faith and the personality cult of the creator are so strong. The underground mosque of Becket-Ata is rightfully considered the most ambitious of its creation.
Becket-Ata died in 1813 at the age of 63 years. He asked to be buried in an underground mosque. Here, believers today seek his support. People come here from all over Kazakhstan. Some come to the mosque several times a year. Pilgrims ask the saint for mercy. Everyone’s questions are very personal: someone prays for health for themselves and their loved ones, others for peace in the family and the accomplishment of a good deed. Kazakhs believe that even the pronunciation of the name Becket-Ata in itself can ward off misfortune.
Mosque Features
The Becket Ata necropolis is unique in its structure. To get inside the mosque, visitors need to go down about 1,500 meters. The mosque has amazing acoustics. In every room, the voice sounds different.
On the way to the underground mosque, meet a healing spring, from which, as they say, Beket-Ata himself took water. In this place you can often see wild goats, foxes and roe deer. The thing is that Becket-Ata at one time forbade hunting in the surrounding lands, so animals are used to approach people at fairly close distances.
The mosque consists of 4 rooms. The saint himself is buried in one of them. In the other is the ashes of his sister Akkuash, only women can enter here, here they have the opportunity to tell about their burdens and ask for help. In the third room, the staff of Becket-Ata is kept. And the fourth room is adapted for a chapel. According to the rules, in order not to offend the spirits, leaving each room should only be back forward.
Scientists believe that the mosque served as a kind of Beket-Ata observatory, from where he could observe celestial bodies. This also indicates the versatility of his nature. Based on what is happening in the sky, the sage predicted the weather, determined how severe the winter is expected and how hot the summer will be.
Also in the Becket-Ata complex there is the so-called Traveler House. It can stop any pilgrim. Many believers try to stay here for the night.
How to get
The distance from Aktau to Becket Ata is approximately 280 km. In time it will take about 5 hours. Almost all the way will go along a good asphalt road, which was built recently.
 If we take the city of Aktau as a starting point, then at the first stage you need to get to the city of Zhanaozen (Novy Uzen) through the village of Zhetibay. It is approximately 150 kilometers. Then, after 25 kilometers, the village of Kyzylsai will appear. From about this moment, guide signs to Becket Ata will begin to meet. The road will go through the mosque of Shopan-Ata. Almost all believers visit it along the way, this is a kind of tradition. From Shopan-Ata to Beket-Ata it remains to overcome another 70 kilometers.
On the way, you can meet a large number of camels of different types, both single and double humped.

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Sherkala is a legendary mountain, where in the Middle Ages a fortress was built, guarding the caravan trails of the Great Silk Road. Mount Sherkala is located between the central and western systems of the Karatau ranges, in the northern part of Mount Akmyshtau.
Translated from Turkic, “Sherkala” means “lion’s fortress” (“sher” -left, “kala” -stress). At the foot of the mountain, the remains of the walls of the ancient caravan – a barn, on the slopes – guard niches, traces of rope ladders, the remains of a secret passage that led to the top of the mountain.
A lonely mountain of unusual shape is located 175 kilometers from the city of Aktau and 21 kilometers from the village of Shetpe. If you look at it from one side, the mountain resembles a huge white yurt, but on the other, Sherkala is like a sleeping lion with its huge head resting on its paws.
Therefore, they called the mountain – Sherkala. Lion Mountain is surrounded by a halo of curious legends. Its limestone slopes are steep and only to the top they become gently sloping, forming a gigantic tent resembling the top of a yurt.
You can climb it if you have special equipment. It will take at least three hours to get around Sherkal. And if you want to look into some of the many caves, wander around the site of an ancient settlement, looking for shards, witnesses of past civilizations, then this time will not be enough.
There is a popular belief, if you make a wish, before going around Sherkala, it will certainly come true. The main thing is that behind every bend, behind a new bend, an amazing view opens up, so unusual that sometimes it seems that you are on an uninhabited planet.
There was a well in one of the caves. Locals drank its delicious water, hiding from besieging enemies at the top of the mountain. Now the well is filled up. Around Sherkala, a placer of round nodules of various sizes.
Many cracked by the wind. Other small nodules are broken. Inside are traces of shells or fish. Not far from Cherkaly, near the road, there is a green oasis.
The steppe at the foot of the mountain turns green, blooms.
There is a spring and a small river Akmysh. Here, in the shadow of centuries-old trees, under the sonorous trills of birds, it is pleasant to sit listening to the story of the legend of Sherkala. Some argue that the mountain resembles a bowl, which was flipped satiated traveler.
Sherkala is considered one of the shrines of Mangistau. “The life we ​​call happy lies at the top, and a steep road leads to it.”
Sherkal or some other mountain, the sage Saadi had in mind or not, but, overcoming obstacles and climbing to Sherkal, you get true pleasure, called happiness. Historians claim that once on the top of the mountain was a fortified city.
For many centuries, the fortress served as a stone bastion, restraining the invasive fervor of strangers. At the beginning of the XIII century, Sherkala was the residence of the son of Genghis Khan, Jochi. Currently a favorite destination for tourists and guests of the region.
 The height of the Sherkal mountain is 332 meters. It is composed of Upper Cretaceous rocks, clay, sandstones, marls, limestones. The mountain is almost steep cliffs, on top of which there is a domed ridge.
Near this mountain lay the Great Silk Road. Here are the remains of an ancient necropolis. In addition, this mountain can be seen in the drawings of the exiled Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, who lived in Mangistau.
 Another interesting fact about Mount Sherkala is the hypothesis that there was once a fortress on top of this mountain. According to the assurances of those daredevils who dared to climb the mountain, on the top to this day you can see traces of ropes and old guard posts. In addition, in one of the places to the top of the mountain is really a narrow passage. Although how ancient is its laying – it is a mystery covered in the sand of history.
Mount Sherkala is considered to be a visiting card among the natural attractions of Mangistau.

Valley of Balls, located in the tract Torysh.
 This place is famous for thousands of round stone formations randomly located in this territory. The radius of some of them reaches three meters.
The main question that people who come to this place are asked is the source of the formation of such spherical nodules. Scientists have been looking for the answer for more than 250 years. However, a definite answer was never given. Today, there are several hypotheses of the origin of these stone formations.
 Mystics talk about a legend according to which unusual stone formations are enemies that turned into stone, who once tried to capture this land.
 Proponents of space theory believe that ball nodules in the Torysh tract are fragments of ancient meteorites flying over our region.
 According to some geologists, these stone formations began to form about 120 million years ago. Then, on the site of the Mangistau region, there was an ocean in which there were favorable conditions for the reproduction of plankton. The accumulations of these organisms became the basis for spherical nodules, the size of which increased with time. Over the years, seawater receded. As a result, such petrified spherical nodules were on land.
 In addition, there is a version that the origin of these balls is associated with the formation of electric charges in the earth’s crust in zones of active tectonic faults. At the end points of these electric charges, rotating ball lightning formed. They allegedly became the cause of the formation of spherical nodules.
 Be that as it may, the Valley of Balls in the Torysh tract is, first of all, a unique and one of the most mysterious sights of Mangistau.
Nodule is usually a spherical (sometimes flattened, oval, irregular round) mineral aggregate of a radially radiant structure. Usually in the center of nodule is the core, which served as the base during nodule growth. Mostly nodules are formed in porous sand or clay rocks. In contrast to secretions, they grow around a particle located in the center. The sizes of nodules vary from millimeters to a meter or more. Outwardly very diverse. They can be densely crystalline (granular or radially radiant in structure) also hidden crystalline (flint) or earthy and friable (vivianite or limonite).
Picturesque and mysterious nodules have become one of the many amazing decorations of the Mangistau Peninsula. Retreating, the water eroded soft limestone rocks, creating bizarre valleys and depressions. Winds and rains completed these processes. So truly alien, unearthly landscapes arose on Mangistau.

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The city of Shymkent (Шымкент in Kazakh cyrillic, Чимкент in Russian cyrillic) is in the southwest corner of Kazakhstan, close to the borders of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.  It is only 75 miles (120 km) north of Tashkent (in Uzbekistan), 265 miles (425 km) west of Bishkek (in Kyrgyzstan) and 375 miles (600 km) west of Almaty.  It is in the same time zone as Almaty and Nur-Sultan.

The city was founded way back in the early 12th century, although earlier settlements were located there dating back to the 6th century.  It was originally a caravanserai (overnight stopping place) on the Silk Road.  It has enjoyed an interesting past, including being sacked several times by Genghis Khan.

More recently, it became part of the khanate of Kokand (no longer in existence) and was captured by the Russians in 1864, under the leadership of General Cherniaev.  In 1914, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its addition to the Russian Empire it was renamed Cherniaev, but the Soviet authorities, after asserting control, renamed it back to Shymkent in 1924.

The city enjoys a relatively moderate climate – warm to hot summers, and cool to cold winters, with occasional snow typically between late November and early March.  It has a population of 1.04 million, making it the third largest city (after Almaty then Nur-Sultan).  The fourth largest city – Aktobe – is less than half the size of Shymkent.

The city has an airport (CIT) with services to other cities in Kazakhstan and internationally (primarily to Russia and to Istanbul).  It has a railway station and of course, roads and buses.

Shymkent has been greatly modernized in recent years, with some of its history also retained dating back many hundreds of years.  It has modern good quality hotels, plenty of restaurant choices, shopping malls, theaters and nightlife, museums, a zoo and arboretum.

One of the major regional attractions is the Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve, a short distance east of the city.  It is the oldest nature reserve in all of central Asia.  It is named after the Aksu river and the Zhabagly mountains.

It was the first in Central Asia to receive the status of a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Within it can be found a rich treasure trove of rare, endangered and endemic species of animals and plants.

There are argali and mountain goats, marals and roe deer, lynxes and snow leopards, wolves and foxes, bears and porcupines, stone marz and ermine.

Above the reserve are birds galore. High in the sky soar beards and vultures, bald sips and golden eagles.  On stone slopes nest kekliks, near eternal snows you can meet ulars.  In the shady canopy of deciduous forests, the plumage of the paradise flycatcher seems to be a living light. The ringing sounds of the flute resemble the singing of a blue bird.  Over the sunny glades flash colorful butterflies-mahaons, rare species of sailboats, pigeons, yellows

Other things to do in and around Shymkent include :

  1. Domalak Ana An architectural monument of the 11th century.  Domalak-Ana is the mother-in-chief of the peoples living in Semirech, Aulie-ata, Shymkent, and Tashkent.
  2. Ken Baba Ethnopark This place is one of the most popular holiday destinations for locals.
  3. Shymkent Zoo The zoo in Shymkent has a wide range of animals.
  4. Arboretum One of the central tourist spots in Shymkent is the arboretum.
  5. The spring of Koshkar-Ata The crystal clear spring Koshkar-Ata is located in the center of Shymkent. As legend has it, once in the local region, by the river, lived the sage Koshkar-Ata. He was a sorcerer who treated many diseases not only medicinal herbs, but also amazing river water, which had medicinal properties.
  6. Sayram-Su One of the most picturesque gorges of the region – Sayram-su. There at an altitude of 2350 meters (7750 ft) is a glacial lake.
  7. Burguluk Gorge and River Along the gorge, on a rocky channel, absorbing the life-giving power of mountain springs, runs the river Burguluk. Its pure cold water feeds the lush greenery of the gorge, freshens the air, and brings coolness in summer.
  8. Independence Park Independence Park was opened in 2011 in the historic part of the city, and is the largest and newest park in the city.
  9. The Ak Underground Mosque A cave located in the Algabas district of the South Kazakhstan region. About 65 meters (200 ft) wide, about 30 meters (100 ft) high, stretched from the southwest to the north-east, formed in the limestone of the south-eastern slopes of the Karatau Range.
  10. Martobe  The hill-town of Martobe served as a parliament for the people in the broader steppe region in the 8th – 12th centuries.
  11. Saryagash Resort This wonderful resort is located in the vicinity of the city of Shymkent. The chemical composition of water is unparalleled in the world. Water contributes to the recovery of the digestive, respiratory, nervous and musculoskeletal systems.
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Also spelled Turkistan

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Almaty City Tour

Almaty is simultaneously ancient and modern, and always an interesting city.

Our tour of the city will show you 19th century architecture, monuments, and magnificent street art, large distinctive modern buildings, and smaller historic structures.

The tour is a great opportunity to understand the history of the city and to see the magnificent landscapes of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountain range immediately outside the city!

During this tour you will reach a height of 10,000 ft (3200 m) above sea level, where you can take unforgettable photos over the city and beyond.

The guided tour is available in a selection of languages and typically starts between 9-10am when you are collected from your hotel, and you’re returned back at the end of the tour, usually between 5-6pm.  The tour is a mix of walking and being driven.

Among highlights are traveling a short distance out of town to the Medeo ice skating rink and Shymbulak ski resort (both fascinating all year round), and within the city, visiting Republic Square, the Panfilovsky Park of 28 Heroes, and the Green Bazaar.

Tour Details

All day (8 hours)

Activity Level


Tour Price

$70-120 per person