5-Day Active Group Tour
Duration: 5 days
We are happy to launch our first group tour which includes visits to the most beautiful places around Almaty!
This is our offer to those travellers who prefer to spend more time in each place, enjoy the destination with no rush and have some free time at the end of the day. No doubts this is a best way to travel and we strongly advise you to choose this itinerary. On our 5 day tours, you will discover endless semi-desserts of Altyn Emel, stunning Charyn canyon, breath-taking Kolsai mountain lakes and mysterious sunken forests in Kaindy lake. Join us for a full unforgettable Zhetisu experience!
- Enjoy a 5-day trip to the best natural parks around Almaty
- Open the mystery of Singing Dunes; hike the fantastic “lunar” Aktau mountains – 70 millions year ago it was a bottom of an ancient Tethys Ocean; take a rest under 700-year willow – the same as Genghis khan’s soldiers did
- Enjoy a breathtaking scenery and take spectacular photographs while hiking around the lakes; visit a sunken forest of Kaindy lake; experience Kazakh cuisine and culture in a carefully selected homestay family.
- See Charyn Canyon, one of Kazakhstan's natural treasures
Day 1 SINGING DUNE
Meeting point: Nedelka cafe, Abay Avenue 19, 050010 Almaty, KZ
Get picked up from meeting point by air-conditioned 4WD vehicle with an experienced driver and meet your guide. Along the scenic drive you will pass the little villages and farmers’ markets, artificial lake and Kapchagai town – one of two places in Kazakhstan where gambling is officially allowed.
It usually takes 3-4 hours to reach a hotel at Altyn Emel National Park, here we stop for a lunch and rest break.
Its time to see first miracle of our trip – Singing Dunes, rising about 150 meters and stretching for a distance of approximately 2-3 km. Learn how is it possible that sand dunes are appeared in steppe vast area and, with luck, listen to the organ-like song of Singing Dunes. Never have climbed a dune before? Here we will have a lot of time for hiking, taking magnificent photos and enjoy amazing panoramic view!
Coming back to the hotel, dinner, night at the hotel.
Day 2 AKTAU & KATUTAU MOUNTAINS
Early morning breakfast at hotel’s café
Departure to Aktau mountains - a museum of the earth's distant past. Fantastically-shaped natural sculptures rise from the bottom of an ancient sea in all the colors of the rainbow, from the pale blue "Lunar landscape" to the "red mountains". These mountains are 30 km long, 1.5-2 km deep - and 400 million years old. The way from the hotel to the mountains takes around 1.5 hour.
After arriving to the place it’s time to unpack your delicious lunch and enjoy it by the side of Aktau mountains!
Next place we visit is incredible Katutau mountains formed by lava and some associated volcanic rocks. Time, water and the sun have created intricate rock rarities here. Snap photos as your guide explains the origin of such a fanciful landscape, and then continue the trip to see 700-year-old willow!
Take a rest under 700-year old willow – possibly the same as warriors of great Genghis khan did?
Time to drive to Zharkent, little town not far from Chinese border, where we stay in a simple but nice hotel. Dinner, overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 CHARYN CANYON
Breakfast at the hotel at Zharkent.
Kick off your third day of travel to see the spectacular landscapes of Charyn Canyon. But while we are in Zharkent we will visit a rare example of a mosque built by Chinese architect in XIXth century!
Throughout your tour, you’ll learn about Charyn’s history, geology, flora and fauna. Enjoy plenty of rest stops and photo ops along the way.
Charyn Canyon National Park – time to explore this magnificent natural wonder! Marvel at dramatic rock formations shaped by the elements and time, and keep your camera handy for amazing photos. There's time at leisure for exploring on your own at your own pace.
Take a break from touring with a stop for a picnic lunch on a bank of Charyn river.
Leave for the another part of Charyn Canyon - Moon Canyon located in 30 mins from the Valley of Castles, but with such a different landscape!
Leaving to Satty village, which is the closest place to stay around Kolsay & Kaindy lakes.
Arrival to the village, homestay with a local family, dinner, Russian banya.
Day 4 KOLSAY LAKES
Breakfast at Satty village.
We drive to the first Kolsai lake and start hiking to the second lake. It is 16 km (around 16 miles) both ways, with the highest point 2700 metres (1.7 miles), it takes around 3-4 hours to reach the second lake.
Important: please take an actual passport (not a copy) for hiking, cause the border line with Kyrgyzstan is located in around 10 km from second Kolsai lake and you can be asked to show passport by the border guards.
Picnic at the shore of the second Kolsai lake.
Coming back to the first Kolsay lake, time to take the last photos and drive back to Satty village.
Arrival to the village, homestay with a local family, dinner, Russian banya.
Overnight in Satty village
Day 5 KAINDY LAKE
Departure to Kaindy Lake.
Unusual and mysterious Kaindy Lake (Birch lake) is located at the altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. Kaindy lake was formed as the result of a huge landslide after the powerful earthquake in 1911. The landslide blocked the river and the water has flooded the valley. That is how appeared the lake with Tien Shan fir trees in the middle. The water of the lake is very cold, that is why the needles of the flooded trees are well preserved and clearly visible through the transparent surface of the water, and dry stems of fir trees overlook the water surface. It is impossible to describe in words all this mystical splendor of the lake – it is necessary to go there and see everything with own eyes.
Leaving to the city - there is a long way back to Almaty - around 5 hours, on the way we will stop for a lunch in one of the village cafes.
Arrival to the city.
Optional: it is also possible to drop you off at 'Karkara' border with Kyrgyzstan or give a drive to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan. Please contact us for details via e-mail.
Optional: Please remember, there is always a great option for camping at desserts, forests, at the shore of mountain lakes - please write us where would you like to sleep in tent and we will change accomodation options! Bonfire is a bonus! ;)
Price per person: 420 USD
Tour starts if 5 people booked the tour
What is included:
- Transportation - 4WD air-conditioned car, Soviet van UAZ (bukhanka) for the Kaindy Lake on 5th day
- Accommodation (hotel in Altyn Emel and Chundzha - shower & toilet inside of the room, homestay in Satty village - very basic conditions, no shower, toilet is outside of the home, Russian Banya; there is always an option for camping - please write us where would you like to sleep in tent)
- Food - 5 lunches, 4 breakfasts, 4 dinners.
- Water - 1L per person per day
- All fees & tickets
What to take:
Comfortable shoes (better if it is a waterproof & with rubber relief sole)
Warm rain jacket (its possible to have some rain on the way to the second lake)
Photography from Slawomir Adamczak, Pawel Plocienniczak &
What's not included:
- Personal expences
- Travel Insurance
- Tips for your guide (optional)
Choose your dates:
What should I pack for the trip?
What is the age range?
Where does the trip start and end?
The trip starts and ends in Almaty, with pick-up at Nedelka cafe (19 Abay avenue, Almaty - very close to Abay underground stop) and drop-off at your hotel
Book the tour:
I joined a five day tour through the Altyn Emel national park, the Charyn national park and the Kolsai national park. The nature was very beautiful and fascinating with a big variety of different kind of landscapes, definitely worth being visited!
Our guide Asel was very friendly and organised and explained a lot during the tour, her English and German were both very good. Our driver Galim was friendly as well (as far as I could understand him) and I always felt very save with him in the car. They both took good care of us throughout our whole trip. I was also picked up and returned to my accommodation at the start and at the end of our excursion.
All interaction in advance with the company owner Olya went very smooth and quick, also here the communication in English was very easy. Taken together, I had five wonderful days visiting Kazakhstan’s amazing landscape and can highly recommend Friendly Tours to any person visiting the country!