Route: Almaty Region (Kazakhstan)
Season: January - December
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1. Almaty - Altyn Emel
Departure from Almaty at 07:00am. Arrival to Altyn Emel National Park at 10:00am. Sightseeing at Kyzylauyz petroglyphs. Picnic at nature.
Kyzylauyz Petroglyphs located in the gorge Taigak, where you can find five groups of inscriptions in Tibetan language, all are of the same content and read as "Om - Mani - Pad - Me - Hum". Also there are the images of generic characters, pictures of mountain goats and sheep, view of the collective hunt for goats and deer, images of musical instruments and a picture of the holiday, with multiple actors.
Sightseeing at Besshatyr burial mounds.
Besshatyr burial mounds - is the main sightseeing of the Altyn Emel National Park. Besshatyr" is translated as "five tents": probably because of the five biggest burial mounds on this territory, part of which has been excavated by the archaeologists in the middle of the past century. Besshatyr necropolis is considered to be the shrine of ancient Saks lived on territory of modern Kazakhstan in the 6th century BC. Altogether 18 royal burial mounds, having diameter from 8 to 70 meters and height from 2 to 20 meters, are concentrated at the territory of 2 sq.km.
Transfer to Altyn Emel hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Altyn Emel.
Day 2. Altyn Emel
Breakfast at 07:30am. Sightseeing tour to the Singing Dune.
Singing Dune, reaching a height of 120 meters and a length of about 3 km, located in one of the corners of the Altyn-Emel National Park, a few kilometers from the Ili river between the mountains of Big and Small Kalkan. This sandy hill consists of very fine pure sand, which starts to "sing" in windy weather and its sound reminds the organ music. Before a sandy storm the dune sounds like a drum. From the top of the Dune you can observe the grand panorama of the surroundings. In the south - thin strip of the Ili River is visible as well as purple mountains of Sogety and Boguty, looking out from the white peaks of the Ketmen ridge. On the west the horizon is obstructed by the steep slope of the Big Kalkan, and the Small Kalkan – from the east. In the north - violet-blue ridge of Djungarian Alatau mountains, Chulak mountain, Matai and Altyn-Emel are visible. If the weather is dry and windy, the sand-dune will "sing" you its song, which could be heard as far as several kilometers...
Return to the hotel and lunch at 12:00 noon. Sightseeing tour to Katutau and Aktau mountains.
Katutau Mountains (Harsh Mountains) are very ancient ruined mountains with preserved volcanic outputs. The breed is very fragile and breaks down under the physical impact. Water, time and wind carved intricate shapes in the rock. Sedimentary rock of the bottom of the ancient Tethys Ocean is preserved there. From the effects of environmental factors it took the form of intricate figures and landscapes.
Aktau Mountains (White Mountains) are world-renowned paleontological field. In the layers of Paleogene lacustrine deposits well-preserved remains of ancient animals whose age is estimated at 25-30 million years have been found. Among the finds there are the remains the giant rhinos, crocodiles, turtles. Huge conical mountains remind the Egyptian pyramids and are a magical scene of the variety of shapes and colors.
Return to Altyn Emel hotel. Dinner and overnignt in Altyn Emel.
DAY 3. Altyn Emel - Charyn Canyon - Kolsai Lakes
Breakfast at 08:00am. Transfer to Ash-tree Grove on the Temerlik River. Sightseeing and picnic.
In the lower reaches of the Charyn River and its tributary Temirlik there is a unique place, where relict species of Sogdian Ash-tree are growing. According to a legend, another 5 million years ago a wind blew a winged seed of Sogdian Ash-tree in this so-called "Valley of Yurts”. The millions of years have passed, mountains and climate have changed, the ancient era has sunk into oblivion and the mammoths have disappeared with it. But Ash-tree is still exist... In 1964 the Ash-tree Grove has been given the status of the monument of nature. The four trees of about the same age are fenced off in the grove. It is some kind of open-air museum. Botanists believe that these trees are over a thousand years old.
Transfer to Charyn Canyon. Sightseeing in the "Valley of Castles".
Charyn Canyon is a natural complex, unique in its kind not only in Kazakhstan but also worldwide. It was formed during Paleogene and reminds the Grand Canyon of Colorado River in North America, although inferior to it in size. The height of the steep slopes of the canyon is up to 150-300 meters. Extraordinary dissection of the terrain is striking: the numerous ravines form a dense, chaotic network. Wind and water have created the beautiful "Valley of Castles", where you are always surrounded by the fancy towers composed of sedimentary rocks. The length of the valley - more than 2 km, width - 20-80 meters. For millions of years the nature has been creating a unique architecture, erecting magnificent castles carefully and slowly. You can spend hours walking among the strange towers and columns, being surprised by the wild imagination of the nature.
Departure to Kolsai Lakes at 16:00. Arrival to Saty settlement, accommodation in the guest house. Dinner and overnight in the guest house.
Day 4. Kolsai Lakes
Breakfast at 08:00am. Trekking to from Kolsai Lake-1 to Kolsai Lake-2 (2250 meters above sea level, 9 km, 4 walking hours).
Kolsai Lakes - "Pearls of the Northern Tien-Shan" - represent a cascade of three lakes. The largest lake is accessible for all visitors. It is the most beautiful lake, having a lack of civilization and the abundance of mushrooms. Horse lovers can order horseback tour to this place. The highest lake is small. It is located on the border of fir-wood and the alpine meadows and amazes by its harsh alpine beauty, as well as the rich flora and fauna. Vertical drop between the three lakes is about 700 meters. The lowest lake can be reached by car. But you should walk few kilometers along mountain trails to see the second and the third lake. Without doubts the tourists are expected to have a wonderful vacation in these places - berries, mushrooms and fishing. The water in the lakes is cold and clean and is home for the rainbow trout - a fish that lives only in the running or spring water. In the around mountains you can see Marals, mountain goats, wolves and even bears.
Picnic at nature. Return to Saty settlement. Dinner and overnight in the guest house.
Day 5. Kolsai Lakes, Kaindy Lake
Breakfast at 08:00am. Transfer to Kaindy Gorge. Sightseeing at Kaindy Lake.
Kaindy Lake (birch lake) is situated among magnificent pine forest at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level and is famous for its origin. It was formed in 1911 due to the powerful earthquake that triggered the landslide blocked the valley by the natural dam, and the water has flooded the valley. The water of the lake is very cold, that is why the needles of the flooded trees are well preserved and clearly visible through the transparent surface of the water, and dry stems of fir trees overlook the water surface, like the masts of the submarine squadron. It is impossible to describe in words all this mystical splendor of the lake – it is necessary to go there and see everything with own eyes.
Picnic at nature. Return to Saty settlement. Free time. Walking, trekking in the vicinity. Horse riding on request (for surcharge). Dinner and overnight in the guest house.
Day 6. Kolsai Lakes - Issyk lake - Almaty
Breakfast at 08:00am. Transfer to Issyk city. Lunch and sightseeing in the Issyk Gorge.
The tour route will take you to an altitude of 1756 meters above sea level, to the beautiful mountain lake Issyk, located in the valley with the same name. The lake was formed about 10,000 years ago due to colossal landslide, resulted in formation of the natural dam of 300 meters in height. On the lake you will enjoy the majestic beauty of its turquoise water surface and the Issyk Gorge, as well as listen to the details of the natural disaster of 1963.
On the back way you will learn a lot about nature and history of this region and see the burial mounds of Saka period, where the famous "Golden Man" was found, which has become the state symbol of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Also you will visit the State Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve “ISSYK”, where you will see the expositions dedicated to the history and culture of the Saka period, including a copy of Golden Man and golden items, ancient ceramics, weapon, elements of horse equipment, as well as the model of Saka burial mound.
Departure to Almaty. Arrival to Almaty at 19:00.