Tag Archives: almaty travel blog

Tamgaly Petroglyphs

The World Heritage–listed Tamgaly petro- glyphs are the most impressive of many petroglyph groups in southeastern Kaza-
khstan. Set in a lushly vegetated canyon in an otherwise arid region near Karabastau village, 170km northwest of Almaty, they
number more than 4000 separate carvings from the Bronze Age and later, in several groups. The varied images include sun-
headed idols, women in childbirth, hunting scenes and a big variety of animals, and are best seen in the afternoon when most sun-
light reaches them. The canyon was a ritual site for nomadic
peoples from at least 3000 years ago. Don’t confuse Tamgaly with Tamgaly Tas, which is a smaller and more recent petroglyph
site on the Ili River.

Issyk mystery – “the Golden Man” or “Woman”?

The Golden Man, main symbol of Kazakhstan independence, is a warrior’s costume from about the 5th century BC that was found in 1969 in a Saka tomb near Issik settlement, about 60km east of Almaty. It is made of more than 4000 separate gold pieces, many of them finely worked with animal motifs, and has a 70cm-high headdress bearing skyward-pointing arrows, a pair of snarling snow leopards and a two-headed winged mythical beast.

The Golden Man has become modern Kazakhstan’s favourite national symbol. The conventional wisdom is that the skeleton found inside the costume was that of a young Saka prince killed in battle. But there is a strong countercurrent of thought that the Golden Man was in fact a Golden Woman, and that Kazakhstan’s nation-makers
have deliberately misrepresented the gender to suit Kazakh stereotypes.

Archaeologist Jeannine Davis-Kimball argues in Warrior Women (2002) that the body was too badly damaged for its gender to be determined, and that other goods in the tomb suggest it was a woman. One intriguing school of thought identifies the Golden Woman with Tomiris, a queen of the Massagetes tribe who defeated the invading forces of Persian emperor Cyrus the Great.

The original Golden Man is apparently kept safe in the National Bank building in Almaty, but replicas adorn museums all over the country.

Travelling Almaty by bus – saving money!

Getting out from the airport.

Taking a bus will be most economy way of getting from Almaty airport to your hotel. The ticket to any Almaty bus costs only 80 tenge which is less than 20 pence. From the airport you can take the bus number 92.

Some secrets from locals.

There is very usefull website citybus.kz  where you can watch the buses in real time and their routes. Go to citybus.kz and press the first tab in the right column (it says in Russian – Wath the buses movement)

Then choose the bus number. For example bus number 92 goes from the airport.

And you will see its route and current position of each bus on this route.

Going to Medeo (Shymbulak) by bus.

Bus number 12 goes to Medeo Ice Skating Rink. The road will take around 40 minutes. These are the coordinated of the bus’s stop – 43.2447605,76.9565591. The stop is located just opposite Kazakhstan hotel.

Actually, the rink operates only 3 winter monthes, November and March.

But in summer there is cable car road to Shymbulak and higher from Medeo. This is nuber one place you should visit while in Almaty. And take the cable road up to the highest point, as it consists of 3 parts: Medeo to Chimbulak, then Combi 1 and Combi 2. So buy all 3 parts at once on Medeo. It will be cheaper than if you buy each part separatly.

Kolsay Lakes

Kolsay Lakes is one of the most beautiful places in Kazakhstan  300 km from Almaty . They are called a blue necklace of Northern Tien Shan. In the Kazakh language “Kolsay” means “a lake in the valley”. All three lakes are located in the eastern part of the Kungei Tau gorge.

The lakes are located at 1,800m, 2,250m and 2,700m above sea level. The Kolsay River originates from glaciers and makes 3 lakes: Verkhneye, Mynzholki and Nizhneye. The water in the lakes is fresh. Kolsay Lakes are very deep up to 80 meters.

Kolsay Lakes are a favorite place for mountain tourism. Trekking routes to Kolsay Lakes are very easy and fit even for amateurs. Kolsay is a wonderful place for picnics, horse riding and mountain biking. A suitable period for camping is from April to late September. Along the coast of Kolsay Lakes there are all kinds of guest houses.

Anyone, who is ever lucky enough to visit these places, never forgets their splendor, peace and tranquility, prevailing around.


Kapchagai Lake


It is hot in Almaty in summer. Dry air, temparutre 30 to 40 degrees. It is no wonder why Kapchagai Reservoir is so popular among locals.

Just about 70 kilometers from Almaty. New highway road. It will take around an hour to get to the water.

Kapchagai is also known as one of Kazakhstan’s two casino havens after gambling was forbidden throughout the country. Although minimum bids for most games tend to be high ($300-500).

Kapchagai Lake is 100 km in length and 25 km in width. Depth is around 40 meters.

Kapchagai Water Reservoir was made in 1970 by putting a dumb on ILY river. Below is photo of rail roda bridge during construction and how it looks nowdays.


This is Kapchagai in winter


This is picture of Kapchagai from satellite. You can see greay area over almaty, which is polluted air (smog).



Charyn Canyon

The Charyn Canyon is one of the most popular places around Almaty. It is located 200 km. east of Almaty about 3 hours drive by car. Many people compare it to the Grand Canyon of California. Of course, sizewise it’s smaller than the Grand Canyon, hence the nick name “little brother of the Grand Canyon”. The rock formations, the colours resemble that of the Grand Canyon.

Valley of Castles

Although the Canyon stretches around 154 km alongside the River, the most popular part of it is only 2 km long and it’s called the Valley of Castles. Why?

The rocks and slopes round the area resemble the old ruines left from the ancient fortresses. It makes you wonder once again, how the Mother Naturemanaged to get these architectural masterpieces.

And only about 20 km (12.5 mi) away, there is a Grove of a very rare species of the Ash Tree. The Sogdian Ash Tree Grove, that survived the Glacier Age.

The Canyon, the River and the Sogdian Ash Tree Grove are all within the territory of the Charyn National Park.

The 4 canyons

All tourist buses go to Valley of Castles, which is actuall is only one of 5 canyons which form the Grand Charyn Canyon.

Valley of Castles.


Temirlik Canyon with red rocks.


Yellow Canyon.


Red Canyon

Red Canyon is located between the Charyn and Chilik rivers. Like Temirlik, it’s bright red from the iron ore it contains.  It’s on the way to Temirlik, and it’s the least impressive in terms of size and shape.

Video. Full way to Charyn Canyon recorded on GoPro camera.

The Green Bazar in Almaty

Noicy, crowded and popular place in Almaty. Local people visit the bazar to buy natural, fresh food. Tourist come to the Green Bazar to buy all kinds of nuts, dried fruits and honey.

One kilo of walnut or dried fruits would cost around 10 – 15 dollars. Honey will be 8 dollars per kilo. Price can be cut about 30% if you are good at bargaining.

Kok-tobe hill in Almaty

Koktube hill, correct spelling  Kok-tobe, is located just in Almaty city and very popular among tourists. You can get there by cable car road which is rather expensive, by walk or by special small buses.  But taking the cable car to the top worth it.

This is great place to visit, especially in the evening to see the sunset. A few restaurants and fast food joints. It’s just a nice area to walk around and enjoy the views.

You will get the best experience visiting Koktobe in the evening time, especially in summer. In daytime the temperature is high and views of city are not as impressive as when it is dark and Almaty is all in lights.

Koktobe working hours

The cable car road works all week long from 10 in the morning till 12 at night. Only on Tuesday it starts working from 15 p.m. till 12 p.m.

Kok-tobe fees

Cable car road ticket is 2000 tenge per person roundtrip. You can also get to the hill by special bus, the cost is 500 tenge in both ends. The bus is also available at night time (23.00 – 9.00) for the price of 1000 tenge.

Koktobe restaurants

There are several restaurants in Kok Tobe hill: Grill Restaurant, Kazakh ethnic foods restaurant Abay Restaurant and burger shop. Prices in restaurants are a little high. Averave bill will be around 4000 – 7 000 tenge per person (salad, main course and drink)


+7 (727) 272 77 77
+7 (702) 000 44 88

Cable car to Koktobe.

Night views from Koktobe which is the highest city point.

Almaty has a very poluted air (winter view from Koktube, you can see greay smog).




Almaty bus payment system

In 2016 in Almaty new public transportation payment system was introduced. Now you can not buy your bus ticket in cash directly in bus. First you need to buy special bus card called Onay in one of many newspaper kiosks and then add funds to it. It is not very convinient system for guests of Almaty but there are no other choices.