Countries: Kazakhstan /Kyrgyzstan
Duration: 12 days
Season: mid of May – October
Arrival in Almaty. Transfer to a hotel. Rest. After some rest, around 11 AM, we have a full day of sightseeing ahead. Today we visit: Panfilov Park, Zenkov Wooden Cathedral, National Musical Instruments Museum, Central State Museum, Almaty’s Green Bazaar and have a Panoramic view at Kok tobe hill. Alma-Ata is the name of “the southern capital” of Kazakhstan. It is the largest city in the country which was the state capital during the period from 1927 to 1997. Alma-Ata is located in the southeast part of Kazakhstan near the border with Kyrgyzstan at heights from 670
to 1100 m. The main sight of Alma-Ata is Panfilov Park named in honor of 28 heroes of the “Panfilovets”, stretched in the northeast part of the city covering near 18 hectares. Located in the center of the park is the majestic Sacred Voznesensky cathedral. Next, we will visit the Museum of national musical instruments named Ykylas, which was opened in 1980 and contains many types of Kazakh national musical instruments most ancient of which are dated to the 17th century. In the southern part of the city, we visit the Central State Museum – a place to see unique archeological finds telling the history of Kazakhstan from the most ancient times to the present. Museum displays over 120 thousand exhibits. After dinner at one of the local restaurants we overnight at a hotel in Almaty.
Our day begins at 11:00 with a journey into the history and development of the southern capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty. The colors smell, and bustling atmosphere of the Green Bazaar, an Eastern market popular with local townspeople, will draw us in and make it impossible to refrain from shopping. You will find beautiful fabrics as well as Oriental sweets for sale, but do not forget to haggle!
After the green bazaar, visit one of the most popular places in Almaty – the Big Almaty Lake.
For full immersion in the national flavor, you first will have a lunch in a local cafe being accompanied by your guide, who will reveal some secrets of national cuisine. After lunch, you will be taken to the south-western part of the city, passing by the Park of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. On the way, you will listen to the stories of your guide about Almaty city and its history. After a short stop at the entrance to the Ile-Alatau National Park for completing the necessary entry procedure, you will start your journey to the Big Almaty Gorge. Upon the way, you will know how one of the oldest water pipes of Almaty was constructed, what is preserved in the territory of the national park, and how the Japanese influenced the development of this area.
After 40 minutes of driving in the gorge through the winding mountain paved road with breathtaking views, you will see the glorious panorama of the Big Almaty Lake, the color of which is always different depending on the weather. The lake is a source of the drinking water supply of Almaty city. Because of this reason, the access of the tourists to the lake is limited, so the excursion route leads a little bit higher above the Big Almaty Lake. There you will have around an hour to admire the scenery and take a walk on the banks of the lake half-way to the water surface which is about 300 meters down from the road. Descend to the lake is stony and covered with seasonal shrubs and herbs so comfortable shoes or boots will make the walking more enjoyable.
On the way back to the town you will visit the Falcon Farm, where you will enjoy a spectacular show with specially trained hawks, falcons, and eagles – hunting with them is one of the most unique features of the Kazakh way of life. The show is open-air and takes around 30-40 minutes. If you are very impressionable and sensitive, please take into account that real chicks (lifeless) are used for feeding the birds during the training and the show. After visiting the Falcon Farm you will have your ride back to your accommodation with an estimated arrival time around 7:00 pm.
*Please note, Green Bazaar and Falcon Farm are not available on Mondays
Transfer to the hotel.
Standard check-out. Departure from Almaty at 07:00. Upon arrival to Saty, you will check-in at the guest house. After lunch, you will change the vehicle to one of AWD’s local cars, such as “UAZ” or “PAZ” (Russian car models), as they are fully capable to cover uneven mountain roads (12 km) Kaindy Lake.
Kaindy Lake (birch lake) is situated among magnificent pine forests 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.
After walking around the lake you will return to Saty settlement to take a shower, have dinner, and rest. Overnight in the guest house.
After breakfast, you will leave a hospitable family and depart to Charyn Canyon at 08:00. It will take about 2 hours to reach the canyon. Upon arrival, you will admire the grand panorama and go down to the bottom of the canyon to walk around 2 km through the maze of the Castles Valley.
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 fancy towers composed of sedimentary rocks. The length of the valley – more than 2 km, width – 20-80 meters. For millions of years, nature has been creating 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 nature.
The bottom of the Canyon has a slight descend to the end of the walk, where you will get to the fresh oasis on the bank of icy cold Charyn River, where also located eco-park with several yurts (traditional dwellings) and a small open-air café, working in the summertime. After some rest walking back and driving to one of the observation points for another breathtaking panoramic view.
Transfer to the Kazakhstani – Kyrgyz border (116 km) and meet with your Kyrgyz driver and guide at the border for the drive to Jyrgalan or Karakol via the Karkara Valley. Overnight at the guest house /hotel.