Pearls of the Northern Tien Shan

 Pearls of the Northern Tien Shan

12 days/ 11 nights

May - September

Almaty residents live in a beautiful city: a lot of fruit, warm winter and insane beauty around for thousands of kilometers. During this tour you can visit all of sightseeing near Almaty region and enjoy our amazing nature.

Day 1. Almaty - Bayankol Gorge

Meeting with a guide in Almaty. Departure to Bayankol gorge (380km, 6 hours). Bayankol gorge is located on the northern macroslope of the Central Tien Shan. The origins of the river begin with glaciers flowing from the Saryjaz Ridge. These are the most accessible six-thousanders: the Marble Wall and the Plateau peak, and the five-thousanders: Border Guard, Karlytau, Kazakhstan, Bayankol and Semenova. Bayankol attracts dozens of tourists, mountaineers and just nature lovers who want to see Khan-Tengri. Bayankol is replete with many picturesque canyons, impressive density of coniferous forests. The fauna of this gorge is represented by a large variety of wild animals - the Red deer or the maral, the Tien Shan arhars, the Siberian mountain ibex or the Teke, the roe deer, the wild boar, the Tien Shan bear, the wolves.

To visit the Bayankol gorge it is necessary to make a pass to the border zone.

Overnight in tents on the river bank.

Meal: lunch, dinner

Day 2. Bayankol Gorge - Shalkodesu Valley

Breakfast. Departure for excursion to the lake Tuzkol (67 km, 1 hour). Lake Tuzkol is located in the intermontane depression between the Yelchin-Buiuryuk and Karatau mountains, which are spurs of the Ketmen ridge of the mountain system of the Northern Tien Shan. The lake is large - 5 km long, and the width in some places reaches 1 km. The area of the lake is 3.2 square km, and the depth reaches 3 m. The water is very salty, similar in composition to the Dead Sea, but the degree of salinity varies in seasons. Around the lake is a bare steppe. On the shore, sedge and hodgepodge grows. There are no large bushes and trees. But in general, the whole valley is surrounded by high mountains. There are wolves, lynx, sometimes bears. It is also the main place of nesting of waterfowl and water birds in the Kazakh part of the Central Tien Shan. A total of 35 species of birds live here. The greatest value is ogar, gray crane and crane-belladonna. In addition to them, there are different kinds of ducks and wild geese, there are several breeding swan-nesting nests. In the mountains nest included in the Red Book of Kazakhstan steppe eagle and golden eagle.

Then the journey follows to the valley of Shalkodesu (26 km, 30 minutes)

Shalkodesu Valley - is the center of transhumance, or as the Kazakhs say, it is zhailau. There is so beautiful in zhailau in summer, high grass and fresh air. From their ancestors - nomadic tribes and peoples inhabiting the expanses of Eurasia - Kazakhs inherited the yurt. This portable home according to its structure most suits to the nomadic way of life, and according to the design it has no equal. After long, harsh winter days, in the summer on the zhailau you can see the yurts of the shepherds. They bring cattle here. Here and there goats and sheep are grazing. A variety of relief forms make this place the best for rest.

Zhailau is a place for rest for the soul and body. Every guest here is pleasant, so they are greeted here as sincerely and cordially as the urban residents are rarely able to. Zhailau is also a good resting place for children who through life on the nature can understand the nomadic way of life of Kazakhs, traditions and craft.

A halt on the bank of the river. Those who wish can go fishing in a mountain river. Kazakh national dishes (beshbarmak, sirne) for lunch. Overnight in tents, or in a yurt.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3. Shalkodesu Valley

Breakfast. Our company has its own team for playing in Kokpar. For tourists, we can organize an exhibition game.

This is the national equestrian game of nomads of Central Asia, known since the time of Genghis Khan. In the life of the steppe peoples, the ability to master the horse masterfully was a vital necessity.

"Kokpar" - one of the most popular Kazakh games - is the smoldering or struggle for the goat carcass, which is common not only in Kazakhstan, but also among the peoples of Central Asia. This is a sports game where you experience dexterity, strength, courage, and the removal of participants in the "kokpar". According to the rules of the game at full gallop, the kokpar is lifted from the ground and is trying to drive to the threshold of the venerable aksakal or a respected person. Opponents tend to intercept and take to their revered people. In the winners come a deft, strong jigit - a rider and a strong, good horse.

Free time for a walk. Overnight in tents, or in a yurt.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4. Shalkodesu Valley - Tour base Dardamty 

Breakfast. Departure to the Ketmen Pass by cars (about 70 km, 2 hours). Photosafari. The weather in the Ketmen Mountains is changing rapidly: cold rain, then hot heat. The trees can blossom in the foothills, and on the shady slopes and peaks even in summer will be snow. But the temperature drops cannot prevent anyone who wants to enjoy the silence and walk along the animal trails of these mountains.

Then follows a horse tour to the Dardamty (about 10 km, 2-4 hours depending on the group's physical preparation). Despite its relatively close location to Almaty, the Ketmen mountains are rarely visited by tourists, adventurers and just fans of outdoor activities. Perhaps, that is why this corner of nature has preserved its pristine purity, all around grows alpine vegetation. A lot of rivulets with icy crystal water in hard-to-reach gorges are thrown down by small, but spectacular waterfalls, giving the tired travelers coolness. It is said that here at an altitude of 3300m located a deposit of coal that functioned in the pre-war years.

The untouched wild nature of indescribable beauty, fresh air will make you love this place once and forever.

In the evening arrival to the base. Guests can visit the Russian sauna. Overnight in tents or in guesthouse.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5. Dardamty - Chundja hot springs

Breakfast. Early observation of animals with binoculars, since they are most active at this time of day. On the afternoon they hide from predators, from potentially dangerous animals, and heat. Especially the hares. Photo safari. In the evening drive to hot springs (60km, 1.5 hours), as it is very hot there in the summer. Chungja is known for its underground springs of mineral waters and clear steppe air. Water in springs has medicinal properties. Its composition, which is heated by active volcanic processes to a temperature of 37-50 ° C, includes radon, which in small doses gives a good health effect.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6. Chundja - Charyn Canyon

Breakfast. Departure to the Charyn River (95 km, 1.5 hours). Charyn River is the left tributary of the Ili River, flowing in the east of the Almaty region, and forming a valley of the canyon. The most famous and most popular object in the canyon is the "Valley of Castles".

Also, in the lower reaches of the Charyn River, in the foothills of the desert, where the banks of the canyon are much lower and diverge to the sides, there is a living monument of nature - an ash-tree grove. In the territory of the grove, mainly grows Szeged, which is the only forest in Kazakhstan. Scientists have proved that it is the same age as a mammoth. Ash Sogdian is a tree about ten meters high, the thickness of the trunks can reach 10 "girths".

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7. Charyn Canyon - Kaiyndy Lake

Breakfast. Departure to Kaiyndy Lake (100 km, 3 hours). Kaiyndy is a very young lake, which appeared only at the beginning of the last century as a result of the earthquake of 1911. This fantastic place is popular among tourists because of the firs and pines that grow from the lake. The depth of the water is 21 meters, the length of the pond is about four meters.

We can also arrange a boat trip on the lake. Overnight in tents near the lake.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8. Kaiyndy Lake - Kolsai Lakes

Breakfast. Transfer to the 1st Lake Kolsai (35 km, 1 hour). Such kind of beauty cannot be found anywhere. Kolsai is a succession of 3 alpine lakes between altitudes of 1700 – 2650m. The 3 lakes are exceptionally clear and lie in an idyllic location, surrounded by massive cliffs and mountains with snowy caps and wooded slopes. These lakes are situated in the eastern part of the picturesque Kungei Tau gorge, 300 km from Almaty. You will see the beauty of nature, inhale the fresh mountain air, enjoy the peace and quiet, admire light clouds reflected in the surface of lakes and enchanting panorama of mountain landscape.

Arrival to the 1st Kolsai Lake. Track to the 2nd Lake Kolsai (about 8 km, horseback riding is possible). Overnight in tents near the lake.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9. Kolsai Lakes - Red Mountains

Breakfast. Our next stop will be the amazingly beautiful Bartogay reservoir (135 km, 2 hours), which is located in the floodplain of the Chilik river between the Toraigyr and Sogheta mountains, partitioned by a 60-meter stone-bulk dam 60 meters high, 330 meters long with a complex culvert. The Bartogay reservoir was created to store water in the winter and feed the fields in the summer along a canal 160 km long.

Here, lovers of fishing can fish. And lovers of picnics in the open air can relax in the shade of trees in a small grove.

Next, we will go to the Red Mountains or the Red Canyon - a very beautiful tract in the Assy gorge (30 km, 1 hour). The main attraction here - exposures of sedimentary rocks in the form of peaks and bizarre sculptures. The array is quite large in area and is located in the form of small canyons and gorges. In structure, these red rocks are somewhat similar to the rocks of the Charyn canyon, but since they are in the mountains, among the greenery, they look even more spectacular, due to contrast. Colors vary depending on the lighting - from yellowish-beige in the morning, to blood-red at sunset. Overnight in tents.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 10. Red Mountains - Assy Plateau

Breakfast. Transfer to the Assy Plateau (10 km, 1 hour). The plateau is located at an altitude of 2800-3200 meters. You will be surprised by the magnificent view when you reach the Assy pass: an incredibly huge green valley with pearls of white yurts and remote flocks of sheep and horses. Since ancient times it has been used as a pasture. Scientists have found here the remains of ancient people who lived more than 5000 years ago.

Once a year in July nomads of the Almaty region meet at the Nomad festival in Assy: this is an excellent show with traditional Kazakh Baiga and Cock-steam, with local dishes from horse milk (kymyz) and meat (kazy). The festival lasts 3 days, and this is definitely the most suitable place for studying the authentic Kazakh nomadic culture.

Another attraction of Assy - the astronomical observatory - one of the largest in Kazakhstan, from anywhere in the valley can be seen its huge dome.

Overnight will be at the Batan gorge in the guest house (50 km, 1 hour). Batan is a favorite tourist destination. There are a lot of mushroom places here. Most often there are gingerbreads. In this part of the Turgen gorge there are the only declared nature monuments on the Tien Shan, the Chinturgen moss spruce forests, with an area of almost 90 hectares: among the dense spruce forest, a continuous moss cover, up to 60 cm deep, covering the permafrost on steep northern slopes. Spruce Schrenk grows mainly on the northern slopes, sometimes quite extensive, and reaches up to 3000 meters. Overnight at the guest house.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11. Batan - Bear waterfall - Kairak waterfall

Breakfast. Today is a trekking day. Walking 7 km to the waterfall.

Bear's waterfall is on the river Karagaili. The Karagaili River originates from the southern slopes of the ridge, which is the northernmost spur of the Trans-Ili Alatau, stretching from west to east. To the waterfall Bear leads well "stuffed" and equipped tourist trail. The height of the fall of the waterfall is about 40 meters. This is the most easily accessible and pleasant waterfall, near it rest and spend time many tourists. In addition to the fact that the waterfall itself is in a very beautiful place, a stormy and foamy stream of water literally cuts into the rock, as if trying to break through it, completing a picturesque landscape of overhanging rocks on three sides, which were destroyed by an earthquake. The smallest splashes scatter in all directions, forming a real cloud.

Revival to the tract Batan. Those interested can go up to the second waterfall (about 9 km of trekking, 2 hours). The height of the Kairak waterfall is more than 55 meters. There is a very picturesque forest and a wide road. The distance to one side is about 9 km. This means that for the whole pedestrian route, along with pauses, you need five hours.

On the way to the waterfall, you will have the opportunity to visit the Chinturgen moss spruce forests. These spruce trees grow on mosses up to 80 centimeters thick. Chinturgen moss spruce forests are a monument of nature and are protected by UNESCO and the state.

Return to Batan. Overnight.

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 12. Batan - Almaty.

Breakfast. Return to Almaty (85km, 2 hours). On the way home visit Issyk Lake. Issyk is a picturesque, high-altitude lake surrounded by an unusually beautiful nature of dense forests and wide flower fields. The lake is located at an altitude of 1760 meters above sea level, in the Issyk gorge of the Ili Alatau.

Meal: breakfast, lunch

Any questions?