Kazakhstan – top 10 attractions near Almaty
By choosing Almaty as the starting point for a full-fledged trip to Kazakhstan or the first acquaintance with this country, you open yourself up to the amazing world of natural beauties. We picked up 10 places where you can easily get on the weekend and where special training is not needed. Arrange a lazy rest on the water – better without a fire and a picnic, because there are many places where it is forbidden, go on an easy trek or plan a day of photography: Kazakhstan can surprise you!
Rent out the best locations for tourists:
Big Almaty Lake
There are many lakes near Almaty, and we will list some of the largest and most beautiful ones. So, Big Almaty, somewhat similar to the famous Lake Ritsa in Abkhazia, lurks among the whitening mountain peaks. Enjoy its turquoise beauty, but do not swim or pollute the shore – this is a water protection zone.
Where: about 30 km south of Almaty. Coordinates
If you have never been inside the impressive striped walls and have not seen how the setting sun gilds their red-yellow surface, then coming here is the right decision. Around you will be both groves of trees and lifeless Martian landscapes – a paradise for photo-aesthetics. Among the landscapes, the Valley of Castles stands out in particular – weathered clay formed high “walls” and “towers”, among which you want to wander for a very long time.
Where: 220 km from Almaty to the east, coordinates.
Altyn-Emel National Park
The feature of the park is a singing dune. If the grains of sand inside this dune begin to rub against each other with an actively blowing wind, then music seems to sound in the air, as if an organ was installed in the middle of the desert. You can hear singing only in dry weather. Take a closer look at the extraterrestrial mountains around: they are colorful and of different shapes. There are striped and snow-white chalk rocks of Aktau, there are bizarre red lava rocks called Katutau. In addition to mountains and dunes, there are also archaeological rarities in the park: for example, a complex of Saka barrows.
Where: The National Park is located 270 km northeast of Almaty. Coordinates.
The locals say: I haven't been to Medeu – I haven't seen Almaty. This is a place where people come in winter, because in this village there is a high-mountain skating rink. If you have long dreamed of ice skating among sunny mountain peaks or backlit in romantic dusk, come to Medeu.
Where: 30 km south of Almaty, coordinates.
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Fans of skiing and snowboarding will not be bored either: the cable car to Chimbulak leaves directly from Medeu. This resort is located at an altitude of 2260-3160 m, and it is more suitable for experienced skiers: there are 9 red slopes and only 4 blue ones, but the red ones are noticeably longer than the blue ones: the longest route is 3.6 km.
Where: cableway to Medeu, coordinates.
Kolsai Lakes and Lake Kaindy
Two lakes connected by a path are Kolsai Lakes. Between them there are about 15 km of the track, but it passes through picturesque places and is easily perceived. Closes this branch of lakes, stretching from north to south, Lake Kaindy. This is not just another beautiful lake with turquoise water. It was formed as a result of a mudflow, which formed a unique phenomenon – half-flooded trees remained to grow in the lake.
Where: 275/295 km east of Almaty, coordinates of Kaindy, coordinates of Kolsai lakes.
Tall and impressive waterfalls that are easily reached in 2-3 hours on mountain trails. More precisely, the Lower Butakovka waterfall is mainly impressive – it is noisy, relatively easily accessible and really high, but the path to the calmer Upper one is a full-fledged track along the Butakovka River through a narrow gorge.
If you're not in a hurry, then on the way stop by Birch Grove – it's nice to walk there in cool weather among the trees at the junction of the city and the mountains.
Where: to the south from Almaty about 25 km. Coordinates.
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For fans of long hikes without backpacks, this seventeen-kilometer track from Medeu is a great and very popular option. Fantastic mountain views and views of Almaty are waiting for you, and from the very plateau you can go to the top of the Three Brothers, located at an altitude of 2860 m. You can go on the route even in winter: the views are wonderful, the climb is thought out.
Where: start in Medeu, coordinates of trail start.
Another beautiful route from Medeu, but not as easy as Kok-Zhailau. Furmanov Peak has a height of 3053 m, and its neighbor, Panorama Peak, is 3260 m. The ascent is long, but not the most difficult. From wow-moments: you are waiting for a heavenly swing at 2500 m to relax, and views of the entire Zailiysky Alatau.
Where: start in Medeu, coordinates of the beginning of the trail.
Turgen GorgeThe most spacious gorge near Almaty, in which there is rafting – along the Turgen River – and a powerful ice waterfall Medvezhiy. The gorge is easily accessible, so it's a great weekend getaway, plus there's a trout farm here so you don't have to worry about taking a bite to eat.
Where: 90 km east of Almaty. Waterfall coordinates.
Bonus! If you are ready to turn to Kyrgyzstan, having traveled only 100 km from Almaty, then do not forget to visit Issyk-Kul – one of the largest lakes in the world with clean, clear water. The lake is drainless, therefore it is very salty, high-mountainous – 1600 m above sea level, it is considered curative. The place is fabulously beautiful – a piece of the ocean among the Asian steppes.
Inspired? Then book author's tours to Kazakhstan for 2021 and get ready for a date with the mountains.