Upon your arrival at the Almaty International Airport, you will be welcomed by a Rahhalah representative, and you will be transferred to the hotel.
Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure, before regrouping in the evening for dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Astana International hotel or similar.
Note: Two group transfers will be arranged from the airport: you can choose depending on your arrival time. Additional transfers can be arranged at an extra cost.
After breakfast, you will head to the Saty village at the Kolsay Lakes National Park(290 km, 5-hour drive). At Saty, you will have the chance to interact with the locals and learn how to cook a traditional Kazakh meal.
After lunch, you will drive to the Kaiyndy Lake (20 km, 1 hour), which was created after a catastrophic earthquake and a tectonic collapse, at the beginning of the twentieth century (1911). “Kaiyndy” in Kazakh means "birch". The paradox is that Lake Kaiyndy is surrounded by a magnificent coniferous forest, instead of birches. The explanation is simple: below the lake, there is the largest birch grove in the entire Tien Shan area, whichgave the name of the nearby gorge, the river and the lake.
In the afternoon, you will enjoy one hour of horseback ridingin the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains with the support of an experienced instructor. On the way, you will enjoy the fresh mountain air andbeautiful landscapes of Tien-Shan spruces, aspens, mountain ash, barberry, and apple orchards. The activity is suitable for beginners and experienced riders.
Dinner at the camp.
Overnight camping in tents near the lake.
After breakfast, you will head to the Kolsay Lakes (20 km, 1 hr): a cluster of three lakes in the northern Tien Shan, in a lintel connecting the Kungei-Alatau and Zailiisky Alatau ridges. The lakes are called "the pearl of the Northern Tien Shan”; their depth reaches 50 m, and they are home to a plethora of local fauna, among which the rainbow trout. They are known for their splendor and tranquility, especially when the sky reflects on the calm surface, reproducing the magnificent panorama of the surrounding mountain range.
The first Kolsay Lake is perched at an altitude of 1,818 m, and it will be your starting point for the trek towards the second Kolsay Lake at 2252 m (distance hiked: around 8 km, 3 hours one way).
Return to the first Kolsay Lake for dinner.
Overnight in tents near the lake.
After breakfast, you will head towards Assy plateau (260 km, 4 hours).
The plateau of Assy is located at an altitude of 2600 m above sea level, in the valley of the Assy River. Along the river, there are ancient burial mounds and rock carvings of such abundance that historians regard the area as one of the most interesting in Kazakhstan as far as the number of petroglyphs is concerned. Scientists have found remains of ancient humans who lived in the valley more than 5000 years ago. The most famous Kazakhstan mountain observatory is also located at the Assy plateau.
After lunch (lunchbox), you will head towards the Turgen Gorge (50 km, 1 hour), an ideal place to enjoy the beauty of the natural landscape. The gorge plunges 44 km into the vast Assy plateau (2,560 m), and is full of coniferous and mixed forests, alpine and sub-alpine meadows, lakes and springs, medicinal herbs and berries. It is also famous for its seven waterfalls. The Medvezhy (Bear) Falls drop 30 meters in a beautiful setting amidst overhanging cliffs and green fir trees, while the Kairak Fall is known for the brutal force of its waters that have carved an entire tunnel into the rock. The earthquake-damaged cliffs in the gorge still preserve traces of the pre-Ice Age vegetation.
Today, you will hike to the Bear Waterfall (5 minutes drive, 1 km of trekking, about 20 minutes), located in a deep rocky niche on the southern slope of the Karash ridge. The height of the waterfall is 29 meters, and its name (Bear) derives from the fact that a family of bears lives in the area. This is the most easily accessible and pleasant waterfall, cherished by locals and tourists alike. The path is easy and short, just one kilometer on a well-equipped trail, with numerous bridges over the stream and a wooden staircase built on the rocks leading to the waterfall.
Overnight in tents at a guesthouse near the Turgen Gorge.
After breakfast, you will visit the Kairak Fall (about 8 km trekking, one way, i.e. 2-3 hours): one of the biggest waterfalls in the region. Its height is more than 55 meters (70 in total), and it never dries. Thanks to its remote location, it is not frequently visited, so it remains clear and pristine.
From the waterfall, you will head to Issyk Lake (30 km,1 hour), to visit, among other things, the museum that hosts the famous Golden Man.
Issyk (or Isik,that translates into “door”) is a picturesque, alpine lake surrounded byunusually beautiful landscapes full of thick forests and vast flower fields. It is located at an altitude of 1760 meters above sea level, in the Issyk gorge of Trans-Ili Alatau, about 70 km east of Almaty.
In the afternoon, you will return to Almaty (70 km,1 hour), and enjoy the rest of the day at your own pace, until you regroup for dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Astana International hotel or similar.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back home.
Note: Two group transfers will be arranged from the airport: you can choose depending on your departure time. Additional transfers can be arranged at an extra cost.