LAKES & CANYONS
4 DAY TRIP
AN UNFORGETTABLE DAY TRIP
Tackle an epic 4-day tour to experience the scenic beauty of south-eastern Kazakhstan on a full mode! Feel the heat of a desert on a journey through the deep and remote Altyn Emel, immerse yourself into the millions of years of history at Charyn Canyon, hit the trail between stunning high-altitude Kolsai lakes & discover the mystery of the sunken forest at the icy cold Kaindy lake. Lots of hiking, lots of dusty trails, smoky tang from last night’s campfire, unimaginable amounts of village food, tons of chats and laughter – it will be the best 4 days on your trip to Central Asia, we promise!
Day 1: AKTAU & KATTYTAU MOUNTAINS
Our way will wind to the north along the scenic drive away from the big city. You’ll be soon be greeted by sweeping views of artificial Kapchagai lake – the last big ambitious Soviet project on the territory of Kazakhstan, it provides electricity to the whole region around.
It usually takes 3-4 hours to reach a hotel at Altyn Emel National Park, where we stop for a lunch and rest break.
It’s time to hop in the car for a scenic drive through a few rustic rural villages and infinite semi-desert valleys on the way to the mysterious Kattytau & Aktau mountains – a museum of the earth’s distant past.
Fantastically-shaped natural sculptures rise in all the colors of the rainbow, from the pale blue Lunar landscape to the red Martian hills. After the scenic hike, it’s time for a relaxed picnic with the best view of splendid Aktau and drive to the next place to wander – Kattytau!
Day 2: SINGING DUNE & CHARYN CANYON
Fuel up with a hearty village breakfast and take a driving journey through the remote barren Kazakh steppes to experience the first miracle of our trip – Singing Dunes. Never have climbed a dune before? Here we will have enough time for hiking, taking magnificent photos, and enjoy an amazing panoramic view of the valley around Ili – the main river of the region!
Today you will not only hike a sand dune but also be awestruck by an impressive Charyn Canyon. We will have gentle descent at the Valley of Castles and have a picnic at the shore of the Charyn river that carved the canyon 12 million years ago, and then ascend up back to the surface with a short scramble up at the end. So please make sure to wear comfortable shoes with a good outsole.
After spending around 3 hours in the canyon we will leave it and drive to Satty village, which is the closest village to Kolsai lakes. Driving from the canyon to the village will take around 2,5 hours, but don’t worry: the road is brand-new and landscapes you’ll see on the way worth driving!
Arrival to the village, homestay with a local family (very basic conditions), dinner. Overnight in Satty village.
Day 3: KOLSAY LAKES
Wake up in the heart of the Northern Tian Shan mountains, enjoy breakfast at the guesthouse before starting the ascend from the first Kolsay lake to the second one.
Today’s hike is a wonderful waltz of ascending and descending through the old spruce tree’ forest, it’ll take around 6-7 hours both ways (16 km, around 500 meters is a height between lakes).
In the afternoon we will have a well-earned picnic and relax time on the shore of the second lake.
It’s time to move back to the first Kolsay lake, after giving the last glance at the lake we will drive back to the Satty village.
Arrival to the village, homestay with a local family (basic conditions), dinner. Overnight in Satty village.
Day 4: KAINDY LAKE
Unusual and mysterious Kaindy Lake (Birch Lake) is located at an 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.
The hiking today is fairly easygoing, but it’s a long day with around 7 or 8 hours of driving back to the city.
On the way, we will stop for a lunch in one of the village cafes.
Pick Up & Drop Off
Relax knowing that you don't have to fuss or worry about the little details.
Hike to the summit of the Aktau Mountains for an unforgettable panoramic view.
Connect With Nature
Vist 4 stunning national parks for hiking, sightseeing and of course relaxing.
Transportation – 4WD air-conditioned car
Accommodation (hotel in Altyn Emel and Chundzha – shower & toilet inside of the room, homestay in Satty village – basic conditions, no shower, the toilet is outside of the home, Russian Banya)
Food – 4 lunches, 3 breakfasts, 3 dinners.
Water – 1L per person per day
All fees & tickets