Route: Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)
Season: June - October
Best Period: August - September
Complexity: High Complexity Trekking, for Experienced Tourists Only
Height Difference: 760-3500 m.a.s.l.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1. Almaty - Taldykorgan - Sarkand
Departure from Almaty at 07:00. Arrival to Taldykorgan at 10:00 and visit to the Local History Museum of Almaty Region. Lunch and transfer to Sarkand (approx. 159 km). During the 2-hour trip there are expected 2-3 stops near interesting and memorable places, as well as visit to the central office of Zhongar Altau National park.
Sarkand was mentioned for the first time in Shokan Valikhanov’s articles about Semirechye study. These references date back to 1857 of the last century. Initially Sarkand was a village, based by Siberian Cossacks. The first solid settlements appeared on the banks of Sarkand river in 1858, when 22 families relocated from Kopal and Lepsinsk counties. In 1872, there was opened the first school. In 1928 Sarkand District was formed. It was composed of Cherkassk and Lepsinsk counties. Since 1964, Sarkand was urban-type settlements, and in 1968 it was transformed into the city. Today it is a small but very pretty town. The main activity of the locals is agriculture, production of excellent wines. There is even a small brewery and a cheese production plant.
Arrival to Sarkand at 18:00 and accommodation at the hotel. Dinner, free time and preparations to the route. Overnight in the hotel.
Total automobile milage in this day approx. 400 km
Day 2. Sarkand - Small Baskan Cordon - Valley of Small Baskan River
Wake-up at 07:00, breakfast. Transfer to Small Baskan cordon. Lunch at the cordon, crossing the river and trekking up the Small Baskan gorge. The first 2 km will lay at quite a difficult path with high thorns, nettles, windbreak. Further, quite a good dirt road will lead to the place of the first overnight stop.
Small Baskan Gorge is located on the northern slope of the central mountain range of Jungar Alatau, in its highest part, and is oriented from north to south. The length of Small Baskan river until the confluence with Big Baskan river is about 40 km. The confluence takes place near Ekiasha village, and our way to the top of the gorge will pass through this village. The gorge starts with Zhambyl glacier, one of the largest glaciers in the area. In the eastern part of the glacier the three highest peaks of Jungar Alatau are located: Semenov-Tien-Shansky peak, Shumsky and Abay peaks. Zhambyl peak is located in the western part of Zhambyl glacier.
Arrival to an overnight place. Setting a camp, dinner, rest.
Total automobile mileage on this day approx. 50 km, trekking distance - approx. 7 km
Day 3. Valley of Small Baskan River
Early wake-up, breakfast and disassembling of the camp. Moving up the gorge to the upper border of the forest. During the whole day we move over rough terrain, the trail periodically appears and sometimes disappears at all. In some places there is a good dirt road. On the road, we meet a few small streams flowing into Small Baskan river, which need to be waded. After passing an abandoned frontier, and fording Kumbasay river, we have stop for short rest and lunch. After rest we continue the movement. After fording two more influxes of Small Baskan river, we reach the upper boundary of the forest and choose a place for overnight. Setting a camp, dinner and rest.
Trekking distance on this day approx. 14 km
Day 4. Valley of Small Baskan River - Zhambyl Glacier
Early wake-up, breakfast and disassembling of the camp. Trekking to the largest influx of Small Baskan river - Juniper river, which originates under Shumsky glacier. We pass several branches of the river spill. Depending on the time of year it can have different level of water, and may be we have to ford the river. The short trekking through alpine meadows will be changed by very unpleasant obstacle, a huge stone rubble. After passing the rubble, we again find ourselves at the alpine meadows and move to the moraine lake, which water level is changing several times during the year. Short rest and lunch on the shore of the lake, which was formed by partitioning of the gorge by the ancient moraine. Then we move to the moraine formed by Zhambyl glacier. Setting a camp, dinner, rest.
Trekking distance on that day approx. 12 km
Day 5. Zhambyl Glacier - Valley of Small Baskan River
Early wake up at 04:30, breakfast and disassembling of the camp. Radial hike to Zhambyl glacier, to overview point of Semenov-Tyan-Shansky peak.
The total length of Zhambyl glacier is about 6 km, of the open part of the glacier - about 5 km. The surface area of the glacier is 11.5 sq.km. According to experts, the glacier is reduced by approximately 2.5 meters every year. It is quite intensive melting for this region. The glacier is named in honor of Zhambyl Zhabayev, a prominent Kazakh poet.
Descent on the glacier moraine, dinner, rest. In the afternoon, descent to Archevaya river. Passing a stone dam, choose an overnight place. Setting a camp, dinner and rest.
Trekking distance on this day approx. 16-20 km
* For experienced hikers, on request, climbing to Semenov-Tien-Shansky peak (4665 meters above sea level) is possible. To do this, you need to add 1 more day to the program.
Day 6. Radial Hike to Shumsky Glacier
Breakfast. Radial hike to Shumsky glacier.
Many tourists say that Shumsky glacier is the most beautiful one that they had ever seen. Locals call this glacier "Saukele" (traditional headdress of Kazakh bride), because its shape is very similar. The size of the glacier is very similar to Zhambyl glacier, its length is about 6 km, and the square is approximately 10.7 sq.km. The glacier is named in honor of Peter Shumsky, Soviet scientist, one of the founders of Soviet glaciology school, researcher of Arctic and Antarctic.
Return to the camp site, dinner, rest.
Trekking distance on this day approx. 10 km
Day 7. Valley of Small Baskan River - Suurly Pass - Suursay Valley
Early wake-up, breakfast. Disassembling of the camp and hike down the gorge to the upper border of the forest. After fording Kumabasay river, rest and lunch. Then, the path continues in the direction of Suurly pass, which height is about 2800 meters above sea level. Descending from the pass to Suursay river and choosing a place for overnight. Setting a camp, dinner, rest.
Trekking distance on this day approx. 13 km
Day 8. Suursay Valley - Big Baskan - Terensay Gorge
Breakfast and disassembling of the camp. The descent through Suursay gorge to the frontier and the merger of Big Baskan river. Rest and lunch.
The origins of Big Baskan river consist of four impressive tributaries flowing from the largest glaciers of Jungar Alatau. The longest in Jungaria are Abay glacier (length of about 10.5 km, square of about 13.5 sq.km) and Shumsky glacier. The maximum height of Big Baskan gorge is 4445 meters above sea level. After merging of Karangurt and Terensay origins, the river is called Big Baskan.
After lunch, we move up Big Baskan gorge till Terensay inflow. Although the most part of the way lies through rugged terrain, a good path also appears from time to time, as well as the dirt road. We reach the upper edge of forest under Nameless pass and choose a place for overnight. Setting a camp, dinner and rest.
Trekking distance on this day approx. 16 km
Day 9. Terensay Gorge - Nameless Pass - Sun Valley - Upper Zhasylkol Lake
Breakfast and disassembling of the camp. Hiking to Nameless pass, which height is about 3220 meters above sea level, and climbing the wide gorge. Sometimes there is a well-trodden path, closer to the saddle we overcome a small talus slope. From the saddle of the pass there is a wonderful view of Terensay gorge and Sun Valley, located in the downstream of Kora river. Rest on the pass. The descent from the pass into a wide valley on a simple grassy slope, sometimes on excellent path. Passing Sun Valley, stop for a rest at the confluence of Kora and Bala Kora rivers, lunch. After a rest, we will ascend to Alice pass, which height is about 2980 meters above sea level. The rise to the pass is difficult, a way lies on a steep grassy slope, somewhere overgrown with tall grass. The descent from Alice pass to the shore of Zhasylkol lake. Setting a camp, dinner, rest.
Trekking distance on this day approx. 17 km
Day 10. Upper Zhasylkol Lake
A day of rest at the lake. Walking around the neighborhood. Overnight in the tent camp on the lake.
The lake is located at an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level, on Kyzylauyz river - the side tributary of Kikozen river. It was formed as a result of a powerful earthquake. Collapsed right slope has blocked the gorge by the powerful dam of rock debris. The length of the lake is 3.3 km and the average width - 300 meters. Its shape resembles Central Asian Salamander (an endangered species, tailed amphibian, that lives only in the mountains of Jungar Alatau). The lake has blue-green hue reminiscent of the surrounding green slopes, covered by alpine meadows and sparse, stunted shrubs. Due to the remoteness, the lake is seldom visited, although its attractiveness and beauty in no way inferior to the lower lake.
Day 11. Upper Zhasylkol Lake - Sorokonozhka Pass - Ak-Tas Plateau
Breakfast, disassembling of the camp. Trekking to the confluence of Agynakaty and Ekiasha rivers. Trail to that place passes through a wide alpine meadow, sometimes over the river spills. Before the confluence, we are overcoming Agynakaty river in the ford and continue to go along its right bank to Tersai gorge. After fording Tersai river we'll have lunch and rest. After the rest, we are awaited by the assault of Sorokonozhka (Centipede) pass. This fancy name to the pass is given knowingly: its vertical drop is about 1000 meters, and the trail along the slope has 40 serpentines with the length of approximately 5 km. The climbing to this pass takes a lot of strength. After climbing, a rest on Ak-Tas plateau. Then, trekking through Ak-Tas plateau to a spring, near which we are setting a camp with views of the lower Zhasylkol lake. Dinner and rest. Overnight in the tent camp at the lake.
Trekking distance on this day approx. 15 km
Day 12. Ak-Tas Plateau - Lower Zhasylkol Lake
Breakfast and disassembling of the camp. Trekking through Ak-Tas plateau to the specular spring. Trekking through the plateau will deliver a lot of pleasure and pleasant experiences. Wherever you look - you will see the endless expanses of alpine meadows and bizarre granite rocks, and in the distance - almost all the vertices of Jungar Alatau are clearly visible. Rest and lunch at the spring. Then, descend to the lower Zhasylkol lake.
Zhasylkol lake is located on the northern slope of the Jungar Alatau ridge, in the valley of Agynykatty river, at an altitude of 1640 meters above sea level. Maximum length of the lake is 2,070 meters, maximum width in the northern part - 751 meters. Until the 80s of the last century this place was practically untouched by humans, and is not surprising as this is an area of the state border. Due to Agynykatty river which flows into the lake, and numerous streams in summer which originate from glaciers of Jungar Alatau, water of Zhasylkol lake is almost always muddy, saturated blue and green shades. The lake has long been visited by proud handsome deer. Travel here is a great opportunity to visit the unspoiled nature and enjoy the magical views.
After the descent, hiking to the lake, setting a camp, dinner, rest.
Trekking distance on this day approx. 10 km
Day 13. Lower Zhasylkol Lake - Zhalanash Cordon - Lepsinsk
Breakfast, disassembling of the camp and trekking to the highest apiary of Jungar Alatau, which sent honey to the table of the last Russian tsar. Lunch in the apiary, honey tasting. Transfer to Zhalanash cordon and further to Lepsinsk.
According to artifacts, it can be said that Lepsinsk area was already populated in the XII century. This is evidenced by finding of burial stone - Bal-Bal, dating from XII-X century. According to the stories of old-timers, there were three mounds in Lepsinsk with the Turkic stone sculptures of granite. The first was lying at the steps of the village council, the second stands at the the house of a local resident, the third, according to the stories, is buried in an area of Amur spring. In 1390, during a campaign deep into Moghulistan, Amir Timur were piled mounds on Uygentas pass near Lepsinsk. By such mounds he designated the boundaries of his empire. On the personal things he set his mark in the form of three rings. This sign was found in 1994 at the foot of Kok-Tobe mountain, near Lepsinsk. The modern history of Lepsinsk begins in 1822. Abolishment of Khan's power gave rise to the petition of joining of the Kazakh clan of Usun to Russia. But the first attempts were unsuccessful. Only in 1846 an agreement on the inclusion of Semirechensk region into Russia and the appointment of Lepsinsk was signed. This is only a small part of the interesting story of a small village, all the most interesting you will hear from the local old-timers.
Accommodation in a guest house, dinner, sauna, rest. Overnight in the guest house.
Total automobile milage on this day approx. 30 km, trekking distance - 3 km
Day 14. Lepsinsk - Sarkand - Taldykorgan - Almaty
Breakfast and departure to Almaty at 07:00. Lunch on the way in Taldykorgan. Arrival to Almaty at approx. 21:00.
Total automobile milage on this day approx. 700 km