Route: Jungar Alatau (Almaty Region, Kazakhstan)
Best Period: June, September
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1. Almaty - Taldykorgan - Taubulak
Departure from Almaty at 07:00. Arrival to Taldykorgan at 10:00. Visit to local history museum of Almaty region, lunch. Transfer to Taubulak eco-camping (132 km, of which 61 km is in mountainous terrain). During the 6-hour trip there are expected 2-3 stops (10-15 minutes) near the unique places of Jungar Alatau. Arrival to Taubulak eco-camping at 17:00. Accommodation and rest. Dinner, free time and preparation to trekking. Overnight in Taubulak eco-camping.
Mountains of Jungar Alatau serve as a natural border with China and have a length of 400 km. One of the most picturesque gorges of Zhetisu – Kora Gorge lies in these mountains and stretches for 90 km. At the bottom of the gorge Kora River is flowing, which is born high in the mountains, in a kingdom of age-old glaciers. In winter and early spring waters of the river is calm and transparent, but when the snow covering the mountain slopes begin to melt away, the river becomes turbulent and rigorous and easily rolls over the huge boulders and breaks like a match the age-old trees. The road, winding along the river, accessible for good cross-country vehicles only and delivers a lot of emotions to all those who dare to go through it. Around, as far as the eye can see, the forests are. Spruce and fir alternates with a lacy greenery of birch trees, and meadows are covered with colorful flower carpet. The road goes higher and the nature becomes more severe: gay birches give way to high mountain plateaus, and dozens of large and small waterfalls rush down from the majestic rocky peaks. Inaccessibility of this area as a border zone for decades helped to keep here a brown bear, deer, mountain goat, as well as the wolf, fox and the hare, which are quite frequent met by travelers. The clear mountain streams originating from glaciers are inhabited by Osman fish.
Day 2. Taubulak - Burkhan Bulak Gorge - Taubulak
Breakfast. Leaving the base and trekking to Burkhan Bulak gorge, visit the top tier of the waterfall.
Burkhan Bulak waterfall, the highest in Kazakhstan, situated at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. The height of its three tiers is 112 meters. Tons of ice-cold water falls down as a noisy stream, irrigating all around with millions of spray. In clear streams on the background of reddish rocks covered with emerald moss, the sun is playing with its rays. Dozens of colorful rainbows complement the fascinating picture painted by the great artist - Nature. And when winter comes the waterfall fades in its icy garment. But to see the true nature of the Burkhan-Bulak Waterfall you need to come in July, when there is a maximum volume of water. Water rushes down as a huge stream, hiding ledges.
Lunch (picnic) in Burhan Bulak gorge. Return to Taubulak base, dinner, rest. Overnight in Taubulak eco-camping.
Day 3. Taubulak - Bayan Zhurek - Kalakai
Wake-up at 08:00. Breakfast and transfer to Bayan Zhurek archaeological complex.
Bayan Zhurek ridge stretches from west to east for about 20 km and reaches a height of about 2000 m above sea level. From Jungar Alatau ridge, Bayan-Zurek is separated by Kaskarau mountain valley. Hundreds of images are embossed on the rocks and large stones in the south-western part, themes and style of which are different from other similar monuments of Zhetisu. The main part of the images was embossed in the Bronze Age. There are images of bulls and other animals, scenes with chariots, solar symbols and religious scenes. Some researchers isolate the oldest group of images relating to the Chalcolithic period (end of the 3rd millennium BC). Petroglyphs of Early Iron Age is somewhat smaller. This is the traditional image of deer, made in the "animal" style, figures of wild boars and other animals. In the Middle Ages on Bayan Zhurek rocks were portrayed riders, horse fights, foot archers, hunting scenes.
Sightseeing at petroglyphs, lunch. Transfer to Kalakai ancient sanctuary.
This is a great ring of stones with a diameter of 97 meters. There is a huge boulder of glacial origin in the center, which remained after the disappearance of glaciers, and, separately, a cross of large stones is laid. This cross is oriented strictly to the cardinal points: north - south, east - west. Overall, this sanctuary reminds the sun circle. But this is not just a symbol of the sun, it is a sundial of huge size and a calendar. As the mountains are to the north and the south, and the plain is on the east and west, this circle makes it possible to capture very accurately the sunrise and sunset, solstice, equinox. Another large stone is included in this complex, on which the drawings and Saki sacrificial wells are found. Next to the sanctuary, there is a large number of Saki mounds, not related to the complex. Monuments of other periods are not yet discovered. People also actively nomadize on this land, as it was three thousand years ago.
Setting a camp near the sanctuary. Dinner and overnight in the tent camp.
Day 4. Kalakai - Small Baskan Cordon
Breakfast and disassembling of the camp. Transfer to Small Baskan cordon, located in the eponymous valley. On the way you will visit a very interesting object - the ancient and unexplored until today remains of settlements of unknown period. Very well-preserved outlines of the buildings allow to assume that people lived there much later Saka period. There are also a huge number of graves of various types and periods in the vicinity, some of which we will visit.
Transfer to Aksu River, lunch on the bank of the river. After lunch, transfer to Terekty intermountain valley.
Terekty valley is located between Zheldykaragay mountains, which is translated as "windy pine" and Airakkol. The road through the valley was laid during the Soviet time for moving between farms of nearby villages, located in the mountains. Now, some parts of the road is actively used by local residents during haymaking, by the shepherds - for moving cattle, by bee-keepers - for honey collecting. Other parts of the road are almost never used, but it is possible to drive through them without difficulty, sometimes bumping onto ancient, unexplored burials and settlements. Tourists in these parts is very rare, locals are always happy to meet and willing to regale with local delicacies.
Stop at one of the farms. Then transfer to small Baskan cordon, dinner, rest, overnight at the cordon.
Day 5. Small Baskan Cordon - Aulie Tas - Topolevka - Lepsinsk
Early wake-up, breakfast. Transfer to Aulie Tas sacred stone.
Aulie Tas shrine (Holy Stone) is a multi-ton stone, which in its form resembles a heart, when viewed from a certain angle. Stone is hidden from prying eyes in a hilly area, and is not visible from the roads which run nearby. Find the way to the stone can only a person who had been there. The stone has several features. The main boulder is split into two parts with a very narrow passage between them. Locals say that only a person with pure thoughts can pass through it. At the base of the stone has a notch, shaped like a womb with a baby, in front of which traces of the hands, knees and forehead are clearly visible. There is a legend about a girl who could not become a mother for a long time. She came to this stone and asked for help so often that her clear traces remained in the solid granite. Nobody knows what happened in the end, but the stone is still attracting pilgrims until nowadays.
Transfer to Topolevka village to Osinovy cordon, where the largest in Kazakhstan amount of Sievers wild apple grows. Scientists have proved that the Sievers apple is an ancestor of all the cultivated varieties of apples on the earth. This sort of apples is named after the German scientist Johann Sievers, who the first described this tree during a trip to Central Asia in the late eighteenth century. His studies have been confirmed by the Soviet botanist Nikolai Vavilov.
Sightseeing and lunch on the cordon. After lunch, transfer to Lepsinsk village along picturesque mountain road. On arrival, accommodation in a guest house, sauna, dinner, rest. Overnight in the quest house.
Day 6. Lepsinsk - Lower Zhasylkol Lake
Breakfast in the guest house, then visit to the local history museum of Lepsinsk village.
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.
Transfer to the highest apiary of Jungar Alatau, which sent honey to the table of the last Russian tsar. Lunch in the apiary, honey tasting. After lunch, trekking to the lower Zhasylkol lake. Setting a camp, dinner, rest. Overnight in the tent camp at the lake shore.
Day 7. Lower Zhasylkol Lake - Lepsinsk
Wake-up, breakfast. After breakfast, trekking to the origins of Agynykatty river.
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.
Return to the camp, lunch. Then descend to the apiary and transfer to Lepsinsk. Accommodation in a guest house, sauna, dinner, rest.
Day 8. Lepsinsk - Cherkassky Defense - Koilyk Settlement - Sarkand
Breakfast in the guest house and transfer to Cherkassk village, visit to the memorial.
Cherkassky Defense (1918-1919) - fighting of peasants from 12 Russian villages of Lepsinsk county in the rear of the White Guard troops, which took place in an atmosphere of fierce struggle between the peasants-new settlers on the one hand, and Semirechensk Cossacks, peasants-old-timers and rich Kazakhs on the other. In June 1918, the peasants of Lepsinsk county created self-defense units to protect their villages from the local White Cossacks and Alash-Horde, as well as from the White Guards, advancing from the north. After the capture of Sergiopol city by White Guard troops, all the Northern Semirechye was covered with counter-revolutionary rebellion. Peasant villages were attacked by White Cossack and Alash Orda troops.
After sightseeing, lunch (picnic) at nature. Then transfer to Koilyk Settlement.
Koilyk settlement was the largest trade, industrial and cultural center in the north-east of Semirechye in XIII-XIV centuries, the headquarters of Karluk Jhabgu. The area is surrounded by a fortified wall of height up to 4 meters. North-east wall has a length of 1200 meters, south-west - 750 meters, adjacent to the foot of the mountains. The city was famous for its bazaars, and, except for the Muslims, the Christians also lived there and had their church. Archaeological research of the site was carried out in 1964. Unfortunately, the settlement is abandoned today, but it is worth to come closer and walk a little bit - you can find a lot of interesting.
Transfer to Sarkand.
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.
Accommodation in a hotel, dinner and rest.
Day 9. Sarkand - Taldykorgan - Almaty
Breakfast. Departure from Sarkand at 09:00. Lunch on the way in Taldykorgan. Arrival to Almaty approx. at 20:00.