The Pearls of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Tour: Best of Almaty Region - Altyn Emel National Park, Charyn canyon and 5 mountain lakes


Country: Kazakhstan View route map »»
Duration: 7 days / 8 nights
Best time to travel: April - October
Itinerary: Almaty - Altyn Emel National Park - Aktau White mounts - Singing Dune - Charyn canyon - Kolsay Lakes -
- Kaindy Lake - Almaty - Big Almaty Lake - Almaty

Tour to Kazakhstan: The Main Tourist Attractions and Nomad Traditions

The tour itinerary includes the most famous tourist attractions of Almaty Region, with activities varying between 4WD jeep tour, easy hikes in the most beautiful areas of the Tien Shan Mountains and an excursion to Almaty featuring a visit to the famous high-altitude sport complex Medeo and a descent from the Kok Tobe Mountain in a renovated cable car, with the enjoyment of a panorama of Almaty.

On the tour you will visit the 3 largest Nature parks of Kazakhstan: Altyn-Emel National Park encompassing the mystic white Aktau Mountains and mysterious Singing Sand Dune; Charyn National Park with its grandiose canyons in the Valley of Castles; and Ile-Alatau National Park located in close proximity to Almaty.

In the Tien Shan Mountains you will find 5 wonderful turquoise pearls: a cascade of Kolsay Lakes, picturesque Kaindy Lake with tree trunks rising right from its water and Big Almaty Lake surrounded by high mountain peaks.

This tour of Kazakhstan puts together all the beauty of the sacred Tien Shan Mountains and the country’s ‘southern capital’ Almaty.

  • Itinerary
    Services & Cost
  • Useful Information


Tour Program:
Day 1. Almaty, arrival.
Arrival in Almaty. Meet at the airport and further transfer to the hotel for accommodation and rest. After breakfast start of the sightseeing tour in Almaty. Visit the following sites: Park of 28 Panfilov soldiers; the Ascension Cathedral - Russian Orthodox wooden church that magically withstood a strong earthquake in XX century; Museum of musical instruments. Further visit of another tourist site of Almaty - Green Bazaar (food tasting including). After lunch time continuation of the city tour: visit Ili Alatau mountains and the local National Park - main attraction of this place is Medeo skating rink, located at the height of 1,690 meters. Another attraction of the same place is Shymbulak - a popular mountain resort with high-level equipment and infrastructure. The last point of Almaty city tour will be Kok Tobe park, located at the height of 1100 meters on the green hill. From here it will be possible to take a ride on comfortable cable car and within 10 minutes admire the magnificent panoramic view of the city. Further transfer to the hotel in Almaty. Rest and overnight.


Day 2. Almaty - Altyn Emel National Park - Aktau White mounts (road transfer 450 km, jeep tour).
After early breakfast start of jeep tour across Almaty region. The first stop will be in Altyn Emel National Park; this is the one of the biggest natural parks in Kazakhstan. From Mongolian language “Altyn Emel” translates as “Golden Saddle” and represents a unique combination of diverse natural landscapes, from flat lands to high mountains, which determines the richness of its flora and fauna. On arrival in Altyn Emel - lunch at the guest house and proceed to visit the white mountains of Aktau, aged 400-million years. Slight hiking in the surroundings. In the same region we visit also - 700 years old osier - another natural attraction of the area. Return to the guest house in the evening. Rest and overnight.

Altyn Emel National Park

Day 3. Altyn Emel National Park - Singing Dune - Charyn canyon - Kolsay Lakes (road transfer, 480 km, jeep tour).
After breakfast continuation of exploring the region of Altyn Emel National Park. The next site to visit will be Singing Dunes - another phenomenon of nature famous - the sand dune emits a sound similar to the tune of an organ. In addition, the dune is known for the beautiful views, overlooking the surrounding countryside. Further transfer to the region of Charyn Canyon and local National Park there. However, en route we also stop in a small Zharkent city and visit Dungan mosque-museum, local church and local market bazaar. After lunch proceed to Charyn canyon - one of the most popular and magnificent natural attractions of Kazakhstan, located in 220 km from Almaty. The canyon is also called as a “small brother” of American Grand Canyon - in Kazakhstan it is smaller, but, nevertheless, very beautiful, and surrounded by old mystery legends. The main attraction of Charyn is the Valley of Castles, where we make a 40-minutes hike - trail goes inside the canyon and leads to Charyn river. After exploring the area, we move to Kolsay lakes. Upon arrival - accommodation at the guest house and overnight.

Singing Dune

Day 4. Kolsay Lakes.
Kolsay Lakes is a group of high mountain lakes at Northern Tien Shan region, located close to Kyrgyzstan border. The place is for true lovers of nature, surrounded by mountains and coniferous forests, these lakes are located on the altitude of 1800, 2300 and 2900 meters. Moreover, the area has other names - “The Necklace of Tien Shan” and “Pearls of Zhetysu region” - and these comparisons are very true. This day will be active - 3-hours hiking (one way) to the second Kolsay lake will be arranged. *If you are not willing to walk, you can just enjoy the untainted nature of Kolsay with its fresh air, marvelous sceneries and ice-clear water. Or, optionally, it is possible to take a horseback ride instead of walking and shorten your trip. Return to the guest house, dinner and overnight.

Kolsay Lakes

Day 5. Kolsay Lakes - Kaindy Lake - Almaty (road transfer, 350 km, jeep tour).
Leave the guest house after breakfast. Transfer to Kaindy lake. The lake became famous due to its origin - it appeared as a result of strong earthquake in 1911; the landslide covered the gorge and water flooded into the coniferous forest. Hiking to Kaindy Lake itself on arrival to the region. Before transfer to Almaty stop at the local national house for a lunch.  After that further transfer to Almaty. Accommodation at the hotel on arrival. Rest and overnight.

Kaindy Lake

Day 6. Almaty - Big Almaty Lake - Almaty (road transfer, 30 km in both directions).
After breakfast transfer out of the city to visit a beautiful mountain reservoir in the Ili Alatau National Park, located on the altitude of 2511 meters, named Big Almaty Lake. En route we drive across the city’s main sites: the Railway Station, Abai Square and Palace Republic, Opera and ballet theatre, Astana Square, Sport Palace, Central Stadium, Kazakh Circus, Wedding Palace, Auezov Drama Theatre, Almaty Towers, and Nurlytau Business Center. Further transfer to the region of the lake after the sightseeing. Slight hiking in the surroundings on arrival. On the back to the city visit the complex of “Sunkar” (local falcon farm) and watch the demonstrative show there with participation of the birds. Further transfer to the hotel - en route visit the Park of the First President. Overnight in Almaty.

falcon farm

Day 7. Almaty, departure.
Transfer to the airport. Departure from Almaty.


Cost includes:

  • Accommodation at the hotels of 3* or 4* (mentioned below, or in similar, but of the same category) in double/twin rooms with breakfasts, including early check-in at the hotel in Almaty on day 1 - check-in after 06:00. Check-in at other hotels - at 14:00; check-out - at 12:00;
  • Accommodation at the guest house in Altyn Emel National Park on twin sharing basis only;
  • Accommodation at the mountain resort in Kolsay Lakes region on twin sharing basis (for groups over 10 persons - on quadruple sharing basis);
  • Meals: breakfasts for each day of the tour; and meals on full board basis in Almaty region (days 2-5);
  • Entrance fees at museums and historical parks mentioned in the program, including ecological fees and cable car to Kok-Tobe Hill;
  • Visit of Falcon farm and watching hunting birds show;
  • English speaking accompanying guide for the whole tour;
  • Transportation services on comfortable air-conditioned vehicles (sedan cars or minibuses - depending on the number of tourists in a group)
    *In Almaty region (days 2-5) transfers will be arranged on 4WD jeeps
  • Mineral water for each day of the tour.

Cost does not include:

  • International flights;
  • Visa and visa invitation fee to Kazakhstan;
  • Meals (except mentioned).

Additional costs (upon request):

  • Visa invitation to Kazakhstan - 65 USD/per person (if necessary);
  • Supplement for meals on full board basis (2 lunches and 2 dinners) - 90 USD/per person/for the whole tour;
  • Horseback riding at Kolsay Lakes (day 4) - 20 USD/per person.

We choose the most conveniently located and reputable hotels for our customers to stay at. The list of the hotels we offer is below. However, due to seasonal conditions and group size this list is subject to change.
- Hotels 3* - cozy private hotels, with traditional national interiors in many of them, providing all the necessary facilities for comfortable stays; notable for very warm hosting and home-like atmosphere.
- Hotels 4* - very comfortable hotels providing excellent facilities and services; mainly located in or near city centers.

The tour comes with the following accommodation:

City Hotels 3* Hotels 4*
Almaty Kazakhstan Hotel 3*
or similar
Kazzhol Hotel 4*
or similar
Altyn Emel National Park Guest house Guest house
Kolsay Lakes Guest house in Saty village
(15 km from Kolsay Lake)
Zhibek Zholy mountain resort
(near Kolsay Lake)

On this route will be used the following type of transport (depending on the number of people in a group):

Group Type of transport
Group of 1-2 Sedan car for 3 seats
Group of 3-7 Mercedes Sprinter or Huyndai Starex or Mitsubishi Delica minibuses for 10 seats
Group of 8-14 Minibus for 18 seats
Group of 15+ Bus for 45 seats
Any Toyota Land Cruiser or similar for transfers in Almaty region (3 persons per car)

Photos of the tour:

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