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Kazakhstan has 9th the largest territory in the world (2,724,900km2), with the population of only 17 million. Major part of the country are horizonless steppes, deserts and mountains that house thousands species of animals and birds.
Kazakhstan is the largest country in the world which has no access to the World Ocean; however the territory of Kazakhstan is washed by land-locked seas: the Caspian and Aral ones. The nature of Kazakhstan is beautiful in its own way. It is severe, since the majority of the territory consists of deserts 164,000,000 ha (44%) and semi-deserts (14%). Only 26% of the territory is occupied by steppe zones and 5,5% (21,000,000 ha) by forest ones. There is Sary-Arka – a “yellow steppe” in the central part of the country and the Turgai plateau to the west from it. The territory of Kazakhstan is so vast that it occupies the Urals in the West and the Altai and Tarbagatai in the East. The Ustyurt plateau and the Caspian sea coast are located in the South-West. The eastern part of Kazakhstan reaches the northern Tien-Shan.
Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest metropolis, is set in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains. It served as the country's capital until 1997 and remains Kazakhstan's trading and cultural hub. Landmarks include the Central State Museum, displaying thousands of historic Kazakh artifacts. In the center is Panfilov Park, home to the bright-yellow towers of Zenkov Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church.
Arrive at Almaty airport
Meeting in the airport, transfer to the hotel, resting. A sightseeing tour round Almaty, visit the Republic Square with the monument of Independence, Central Historical Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Panfilov park with its wooden Cathedral and Museum of national musical instruments. Dinner in a traditional restaurant. (B)
To Issyk lake and Turgen watrefall
After early breakfast, we load our luggages on 4x4 car and start driving from Almaty in the direction of Turgen mountain gorge (North Tian Shan), by famous Kuldja Road (part of the Silk Way from China). Our first stop is Issyk town. Visit of a nice new museum of Saki culture. The museum is built just in the center of the King's valley with its giant burials of ancient rulers and warriors of Saki tribes (IX – IIIc BC ). One of the burial is excavated and is open for the visitors so that everyone could see how people like a famous Golden Man (symbol of Kazakhstan) were living and dying. Excursion by the museum and a valley takes 45 minutes. Drive up to Issyk Lake (1756m a.s.l) located in the upper reaches of huge and pictorial Issyk gorge, short hiking around. Lunch at a lakeside. After lunch, we drive to Turgen ravine (another ravine of the Northen Tian Shan ridge), stop for a short hiking to the Lower Turgen waterfall. Drive from the waterfall to Batan place, where our comfortable Turgen safari-campsite is located. Accommodation and at a campsite. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
To Charyn Canyon
Today we drive to the famous Charyn canyon. Camping at a glade, lunch. Evening hiking by the part of a canyon called “Valley of Castles” that is known for its unusual rock formations. The width of it ranges from 20 to 80 meters and the length is 2 kilometers. The Canyon has been described as the Grand Canyon’s little brother. This is not to detract from the sheer splendor of the canyon itself. The vista of dramatic erosion made by the river Charyn below and the elements has created a dramatic and impressive landscape. Overnight in tents, in Charyn. (B,L,D)
To Altyn Emel Nat.Park
Drive 160kms (2-3hrs) and reach Altyn Emel Nat.Park. Before lunch, we will expore the beautifull mountians Katutau (Hard) and Aktau (White).
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. After picnic lunch in nature, we drive more to west and expore the Singing Dunes. 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... After few hours explore, we continue our driving by paved road (200kms-3hrs) between remote mountians to north-east and reach small Kazakh village of apple trees, located just on the south side of Djungar Altai Mountian. For overnight we will stay with Kazakh family and feel their grade hospitality. Overnight with family. (B,L,D).
Explore Djungar Alatau (Djungar-Altai Mountians)
After breakfast, we walk by local family’s garden, where you can see planted apples and many other berries. After lunch, we drive along river Kora about 60kms and reach our campside. On the way, we make 2-3 stops (10-15 minutes) near the unique places of Jungar Alatau. Soft hiking. Overnight in tent.
Mountains of Jungar Alatau have a length of 400 km. One of the most picturesque gorges of Zhetisu – Korinski Gorge lies in these mountains and stretches for 90 km. Kora River is feeding from age-old glaciers.Spruce and fir alternates with a lacy greenery of birch trees, and meadows are covered with colorful flower carpet. If you are lucky, can see a brown bear, deer, mountain goat, as well as the wolf, fox and the hare.Next day, we do a day hike towards Burhan Bulak Gorge, visit the top tier of the waterfall.
Burhan Bulak waterfall, the highest in Central Asia, situated at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. The height of its three tiers is 112 meters. 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.You are here on time to see the true nature of the Burhan-Bulak Waterfall. Overnight in same campside. (B,L,D)