Either you’re looking for a single day hike, multi-day trekking with heavy backpack, hardcore high-altitude ascents or lazy 4WD tour around national parks, Almaty region provides a plenty of options. Here is a short introduction to the most popular destinations if you got a couple of spare days in the city.

Longer, harder, more technical options are available by request. Our team of seasoned mountaineers can arrange practically anything up to techical ascents and 9-days trekking with ascent to Talgar peak – the local top of Zailisky Alatau ridge (4990 meters above sea level, category 3A). If you have already seen everything and need unique experience, just contact us and we’ll come up with something. If you feel confident enough to do it on your own, some of the popular trails are complimented with gpx files (soon). Use it on your own discretion. The first gpx you have to download are the rescue shelters evenly distributed on the popular high-altitude trails.

Single day hikes around the city.

There are only a few major cities globally this close to mountains. Half an hour by bus and the tourist finds himself deep in the mountains. However, first couple of days maybe better spent roaming the old city center getting used to altitude (800-1000masl main city limits). Mind that rapid car/cable elevation gains can potentially lead to mountain sickness. Easy hikes are best during the week in case you want to avoid crowds. Most of these single day tours are available all year round.

There are two main gorges in Almaty – Small Almaty gorge and Big Almaty gorge.

Small Almaty gorge

It is easily accessible by car/bus/taxi and provides decent infrastructure to spend the whole day. The first thing to do is head to the Medeo area – start of the many exciting trails in Small Almaty gorge.

Cable takes you from Medeo to the Big Talgar pass (3300masl) – the highest point of Shymbulak ski resort (season Nov-March). On the way up you gonna observe the Medeo scating rink (active winter time) and Medeo dam – huge structure protecting the city from the mountain lakes.

Glacier of Bogdanovich is probably the closest to the city easily reachable from Big Talgar pass within two hours. Mind that weather in mountains is unpredictable and can change drastically in a matter of minutes so better grab warm gear and rain jacket.

Another popular trail starting from Big Talgar pass is Four peaks hike. It requires some experience and navigational skills (not recommended for beginners).

Valley of glaciers (3600masl) tour of Tuyuksu gorge is still one of my favorite ways to spend a day in the mountains. The huge valley surrounded by stone walls and several pulsating glaciers will take your breath away. It starts from the first station of Shymbulak ski resort.

The easiest hike suitable for kids might be the short walk to the Butakovka waterfall, the closest one to Almaty. Compatible with moderate ascent to Bukreev peak (3010masl).

Kok-Zhailau plateau is also considered among the most popular destinations reachable within several hours. Starts just a few clicks off Medeo – at the Prosveshenetz bus stop.

Between Medeo and Shymbulak there is an entry to the beautiful Gorelnik gorge suitable both for easy hikes to Gorelnik waterfall and as well as for some hardcore exercises like Kumbel circuit which you definitely gonna regret afterwards not being able to walk for a several days.

Kimasar gorge is located to the left to Medeo scating rink and is considered as one of the easily-accessed walking ranges near Almaty and proved itself as an avalanche-free route. Mild gradient makes it super-friendly even for beginners and kids making it very popular among amateur hikers, especially on weekends. You have to reach the high-altitude swings, then maybe extend to Furmanova peak (3053masl) and final push to Panorama peak (3260masl). And if you feel it in you and still have time proceed further to Big Talgar pass thus completing the harder clockwise version of the Four peaks hike. Well done!

Or, be honest with yourself and start downhilling from the swings making it the Kimasar circuit – relaxed walk suitable even for families. Nice option with pleasant terrain.

There is also Big Almaty gorge in the western part of the city with its famous Big Almaty lake. Unfortunately, it is way less accessible due to the lack of public transportation, and, ultimately, constant road block (1500masl) caused by dangerous driving conditions. Though, it is possible to get there by foot along the pipeline (about 6 km / +1000m). You can even find some illegal taxis shuttling to the lake. Better be ready to cough up somewhat about $70 for a car. And further by the serpentine road to the Zhusaly-Kezen pass (3300masl) – the ‘Kosmostation’ spot which serves as a start of maybe the most accessible 4000 ascent in the area – Tourist peak. Makes sense to also cover Big Almaty peak (3680masl), perfectly shaped pyramid easily visible from almost every point in the city. This gorge has some more challenging walking ascents such as Sovetov peak (4317masl), Molodezhka (4147masl), etc.

Multi-day trekkings.

Only summer time. The most famous trekking nearby must be the Grand Almaty around-the-world. It takes you from the Small gorge (Big Talgar pass) to the Big one along the gorge of Left Talgar, from Medeo area right to the Big Almaty lake. On our way we gonna pass several climate zones such as alpine meadows, pine forests, glaciers and 4000m Tourists’ pass. During summer there definitely gonna be other tourists so you will have a chance to ask for direction or nearest camping spot.

There are many areas in the region where you can wander for days without meeting a single soul. One of them is upper Turgen gorge, full of high-altitude lakes and called local Greenland due to its breathtaking landscapes. If you’re looking for solitude and real into-the-wild adventure, try this one.

Titov’ cirquit two-days bundle trekkings covers the main attractions of Tuyuksu and Gorelnik gorges– Memorial to the fallen mountaineers, T6 (Manshuk) morain lake, T1 sand beaches, Titov pass (3600masl), Titov lakes and Gorelnik waterfalls. It starts from the first station of Shymbulak ski resort. Flexible and customizable route.

Winter time trekkings to rescue shelters are also available for experienced mountaineers with proper gear. Usually combined with moderate ascents such as Sovetov peak (4317masl), Molodezhka (4147masl), etc.

4WD tours in Almaty region, Kyrgyzstan, and wherever.

You can actually cover all main tourist destinations of Almaty region national parks within four days all year round – the special Golden ring of Zhetysu bundle tour. This circuit 4wd ride includes wonders of steppe Altyn Emel national park – Singing dune, Aktau and Katytau moutains. Then smooth transit to canyons area – Charyn, Bestamak, Moon, Temirlik. And finally, Kolsai and Kayindy mountain lakes in a forest zone.

Summer time you can add extra day and head back to the city through the high-altitude Assy plateau which serves as a summer pasture with endless herds and yourts. Final destination is a magnifiscent Turgen gorge with several waterfalls.

Surely, each of these parts of the bundle can be picked for shorter tour (usually two days due to the driving distances). The most popular is the bundle of Charyn canyon/Kayindy lake/two Kolsai lakes. Single day rides to Charyn canyon available all year round.

Besides that, we offer bespoke 4wd tours to Kyrgyzstan, tours to the east and south of Qazaqstan.

Though there are no dangerous animals around here besides rare vipers you outta always remember about ticks.

Accomodation in national parks is not included in our fees so tourists are free to choose what suits them best. Please mind that sometimes weekend prices may differ from less busy days.

Saty village accomodations
There is a plenty of different options around Kolsai and Kayindy lakes area.
Household guesthouses run by locals in surrounding villages, mostly in Saty. Comfortable rooms with wifi, shower. Prices – around $30 per person, usually includes 3x home-made meals (they serve vegetarian menu upon request).
Yourts (summer only) for rent lack indoor amenities like shower, AC and wifi (though, cell coverage is decent) but if you ever wanted to live like a real nomad it is a must. Yourts are quite comfortable in terms of temperature – they protect from the sun during hot summers while keeping tenants warm during cold days. Prices vary from $35 to $80 per yourt (no meals included) depending mostly on proximity to the lake and size. Big yourt accomodates up to 12 people, small one – 4 people.
In case of high standards, there are also some conventional hotels with roomservice, pools, saunas and views. Standard room starts from $80, standalone bungalows and glampings are cost-efficient for big groups. Some names are Kolsay grand hotel, Kolsay lakes town, Kolsay nomads (the fanciest with the lake view). Most of them have instagram accounts with prices.
And for true tourists there is always an option of camping in tents with 2x meals included in our fees. Usually we camp on an isolated spot near the river away from crowds.

Charyn canyon (Valley of the castles)
Only a few glampings available so better book beforehand. Please mind that the climate in steppe area can be challenging, including strong winds and high temperatures. Better stay around Saty village (two hrs away ride). Temirlik and Bestamak canyons maybe the best camping spot in the canyons area near the cool river in the shadows of ash trees (only for proper 4wd). 

Bas’shy village (Altyn Emel)
Only a limited number of guesthouses and hotels so better book beforehand. Summer time steppe area can be quite uncomfortable due to high temperatures so Bas’shy is your only choice. Prices – around $30 per person, usually includes 3x home-made meals (vegetarian menu is served upon request).