How to get out Almaty
Turgen Gorge.In the National preserve Ile-Alatau in 90 km from Almaty a delightful place of the nature – Turgen Gorge - is situated. In the gorge that has a depth of 44 km. you can take pleasure from visiting hot springs, waterfalls and plenty of forests. Gorge is famous with its waterfalls and relic Chim-Turgen moss fir-woods that spread over the ground and create a dense fir-tree carpet
Big Almaty Lake. Big Almaty Lake (Bolshoye Almatinskoye Ozero) is one the most admirable mountain lakes of Almaty outskirts, located in Trans-Ili Alatau in the gorge of Bolshaya Almatinka river on the height of 2510 above sea level. It lies in the cavity and is like a sparkling mirror, surrounded from all the sides with majestic peaks. Three main peaks tower over the Lake: Peak of Soviet (4317 m) – in the South-East, Ozerniy (4110) – in the South, Tourist Peak (3954 m) in the South-West. Depending on the season the Lake changes its color from light-green to turquoise-blue. Can be reached by car.
Alpine park. Outside town, on the road to Chimbulak. Medeu skating rink is on this road too.
Chimbulak. Ski-resort with snowboard and ski tracks. Opened from November till April-May. A base for some great hikes. You can hike up to the top to get a great view of the city. Or you can bypass Chimbulak and carry along the road, past the hotel and walk up to the dam and then the glacier. A tough but beautiful walk. Hiking is definitely a highlight here. To go to Chymbulak, you can take the bus from the corner of Satpayev and Baitursynuly at 8 am every day; don't miss the way back! Every Tuesday is lift out of order.
Charyn Canyon. The second largest canyon in the world. Located 200 km to the east of Almaty. Recommended for tours more than one day. One of the most remarkable nature wonders, left by world ocean is the canyon of Charyn river. Charyn Canyon is considered to be a miniature of the Grand Canyon carved by the Colorado River in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is unusual and very diverse in its forms that remind the towers of fairy-tale castle. That is why canyon has another name - the Valley of Castles. On the slopes there could be found the remains of fossil fauna, dated 300 mln years.
Kolsai Lakes. Lakes of amazing beauty about 250 km away from Almaty. The first lake can be reached by car. To see the other lakes you have to hire a horse for about 500–1000 tenge. You can stay overnight in a small two storey houses for about 2000–5000 tenge per night. The lakes are very clean and you can even drink it. You can see the fish jumping out of it.
Old orchards. The orchards give Almaty its name. Ironically, most have been destroyed in recent, ill-thought out building developments, but a few remain.
Tamgaly. Temple of Sun. In 170 km from Almaty, in the North-West direction, a unique sanctuary in the open air- Tamgaly is located. In the desert lands, where ancient rocks and gorges tower their crowns, a chain of kurgans-burial grounds lie. This is the very place, where a gallery of rock drawings left by ancient people of Saks and Turks tribes could be found. On the petroglyphs you can see deities, that Kazakh ancient people worshiped, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic creatures, spiritual rites.
Nearby Chimbulak is a skiing village. There are a number of ski resorts in the area.
There are the gorgeous Tian-Shan mountains and lakes around Almaty, the most famous of which is the beautiful Big Almaty Lake.
There is a nearby desert park with a giant canyon (Charyn Canyon), although it does not approach the Grand Canyon in size. It also has petroglyphs and waterfalls.
If travelers have several days to spend (and are craving a beach experience), Lake Balkhash, the largest lake in the nation, can be reached by bus within 12 hours or private car within 8 hours. Lake Balkhash is half fresh (the eastern half where the river enters from China) and half salt (the western half). There are a couple of 2-star hotels in the village of Balkhash, which is the half-way point between Almaty and Astana if you want to drive 800 km instead of flying or taking the train.
The Tamgaly petroglyphs, a UNESCO site, are about 2-1/2 hours away by car (on the road to Bishkek). The petroglyphs range from ancient (3,000 years) to "modern" (75 years), and feature pictures of the Sunman and hunting nomad tribes. There are also several grave sites. Not to be missed in the spring, summer, or fall, but watch out for snakes when it's hot!
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, is a 3-1/2 hour drive away on the best highway in Kazakhstan (pot holes are rare and you can keep a 100km pace easily after leaving the Almaty oblast, but watch out for crazy oncoming passers). You can catch a taxi to Bishkek at "Sayran" international coach station. Approach a group of cars with Kyrgyz number plates and negotiate the price in advance. As of 19 January 2009, the average fare is KZT2,500-3,000 per person. It is definitely worth the drive if you have a day or so to spend. You'll wind along the foot of the Tien Shan range through incredible landscape created by young volcanoes. Most of the "local" felt goods and rugs sold in Almaty come from tribes in Kyrgyzstan, and can be bought for a quarter of the cost in Kyrgyzstan. Make it into a two-day excursion and stop at Tamgaly petroglyphs on the way from or the return trip to Almaty.
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The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Almaty