5-day Group t0ur from Almaty

Duration: 5 days

Enjoy a leisurely 5-day group tour from Almaty to fully experience the scenic beauty of south-eastern Kazakhstan. 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 5 days on your trip to Central Asia, we promise!

In Dostar Trips, we treat each of our guests as a friend we just didn’t meet yet (btw “dostar” means friends from Kazakh). If you take a trip with us – you can rely on our friendly support during all your stay even after the tour, we will always be happy to help you with anything you need – advise the best place to eat, buy a train ticket, meet locals. Check out what our previous guests are saying about us on TripAdvisor. Let’s be friends!  

Important: a group tour from Almaty will take place if 7 (seven) or more participants will be ready to do the trip. Please let us know if you’d like to take a tour by emailing us and we will contact you 5 days before the tour to inform you about the status of the tour. If we have 7 or more participants, we will send you our bank details for the 10% deposit of tour’ price to be paid. The rest 90% of the payment needs to be paid at the beginning of the tour (morning of the first day). 

Dates for the next 5-day group tours from Almaty in 2022: 

  • 12th of July – 16th of July
  • 26th of July – 30th of July
  • 9th of August – 13th of August
  • 23rd of August – 27th of August
  • 6th of September – 10th of September
  • 20th of September – 24th of September 

Highlights:

  • Visit three national parks in five days
  • Take a road trip to the unique singing sand dunes that never move despite the constant strong winds
  • See the old Uighur mosque built by Chinese architect
  • Have a relaxed evening at Chundzha hot springs!
  • Spend your evenings stargazing and planet-spotting in some of Kazakhstan’s best dark sky locations
  • Take the splendor of Charyn Canyon with a nice hike in the Valley of Castles
  • Enjoy breathtaking scenery of Kolsay lakes and ascend from the first lake to the second
  • Tackle a mystery of a sunken forest at Kaindy lake
  • Experience Kazakh cuisine and culture in a carefully selected guesthouse at Kolsai lakes

Itinerary for the 5-day group tour from Almaty:

  • Day 1: Almaty – Singing Dune;
  • Day 2: Zharkent Mosque & Chundzha hot springs;
  • Day 3: Kaindy Lake;
  • Day 4: Hiking at Kolsay lakes;
  • Day 5: Charyn Canyon – Bartogai lake – Almaty. 
Day 1: SINGING DUNE.

Driving time: 3,5 hours to the Basshi village,
1.5 hour both ways to the Singing Dune,
2 hours of hiking at the Dune

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We will have an early start today by picking you up from Seven Rivers bar on an air-conditioned vehicle led by the super-experienced driver. Our guide will meet you at the bar for the welcome coffee and you get to know your crew and hear about the adventure ahead.

Our way will wind to the north along the scenic drive away from the big city. You’ll soon be greeted by sweeping views of artificial Kapchagai lake – the last big ambitious Soviet project on the territory of Kazakhstan, that provides electricity to the whole region. You will also be a bit surprised by luxurious casinos lined up along the highway. Kapchagai town is one of the two places in Kazakhstan where gambling is officially allowed.

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 is time to take a driving journey through the remote barren Kazakh steppes to experience the first miracle of our trip – Singing Dunes. On the way, extra beady eyes may catch sight of the gracious black-tailed gazelle or Asian wild ass moving for the Ili river’s drinking place. Arriving at the Singing Dunes learn how it is possible that dunes appeared in a vast steppe area and, despite a wind, never moved from their place for hundreds of years! Never have climbed a dune before? Here we will have a lot of time for hiking, taking magnificent photos, and enjoying an amazing panoramic view of the valley around Ili – the main river of the region!

Coming back to the hotel, dinner, night at the hotel. 

P.S. If you are taking a trip to Altyn Emel in August, don’t miss the opportunity to see numerous falling stars – it is far enough from any big city to enjoy the best dark sky in the region.

Day 2: Zharkent Mosque & Chundzha Hot Springs

Driving time: 2 hours, no hiking.

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Breakfast at the hotel at Bashi village.

Short stop at the picturesque Tiger hills, the place looks completely out of our world, you can easily imagine yourself as an explorer of another planet. 

We will drive to the small town Zharkent, located very close to the Khorgos, main automobile entrance to China. Most of the population of this town are people of Uighur ethnicity, so you will try one of the most famous Uighur dishes – lagman! It is fresh handmade noodles served with meat and vegetables, probably this dish introduced Marco polo to pasta!

After lunch we will visit an old mysterious mosque (currently – museum) built by a Chinese architect Hong Pik in the XIXth century by the order of wealthy local merchant Valiakhun Yuldashev. The building, resembling a Chinese pagoda, turned out so beautiful that the architect was executed after returning back home for giving away Chinese architectural secrets. We are not sure if this scary story is true but definitely the building is true jewel of our region, so you need to see it with your own eyes!

Driving to Chundzha town, a place with mineral radon hot springs. We will stay in a hotel with a waterpool, so it’s a great idea to take a swimming suit.

Dinner. 

Night in a hotel in Chundzha town.

Day 3: Kaindy Lake

Driving time: 4 hours to Satty village, 2 hours both ways to Kaindy lake, 2 hours hiking around the lake.

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Today we will drive away from the desserts, towards the snow-capped mountains of Tian Shan. South-east Kazakhstan is famous for that sharp difference when in one day you can experience the intensive summer heat and fresh spring chilly time by just moving a bit closer to the mountains! 

We will stop for lunch at the Satty village, the closest village to the Kolsay & Kaindy lakes.

After lunch we will visit 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 flooded the valley. That is how the lake appeared 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 your own eyes.

The road to the lake is not so good, so we will change our comfortable bus for the old Soviet UAZ cars during the trip to the lake. It will take around two hours of driving both ways and two more hours to hike a bit around the lake.

Dinner and overnight in a guest house in Satty village. 

Day 4: KOLSAY LAKES

Driving time: 1 hour both ways to the first Kolsay Lake, 5 hours of hiking to the second Kolsay lake both ways.

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Wake up in the heart of the Northern Tian Shan mountains, enjoy breakfast at the guesthouse before starting the ascent 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).

The hike is great training for the whole body, so don’t forget to bring comfortable hiking clothes and shoes!

Important: Please take an actual passport (not a copy) for hiking, cause the border with Kyrgyzstan is located around 10 km from the second Kolsai lake and you can be asked to show your passport by border soldiers.

In the afternoon we will have a well-earned picnic and relax on the shore of the second lake. My favorite part of the hike I should say!

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, dinner and overnight in a guest house in Satty village. 

Day 5: Charyn Canyon and Bartogay lake.

Driving time: 3 hours to the Charyn canyon, 3 hours of light hiking at the Canyon, 3 hours driving back to Almaty.

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The adventure comes to an end today as you treat yourself with breakfast at Satty village and depart to see the spectacular landscapes of Charyn Canyon on the way back to Almaty.

While driving 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 the 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 the Charyn river.

During the trip back to Almaty we will stop to enjoy a bewitching landscape of Bartogay lake, hidden away from the main road but definitely worth visiting.

We will finish our trip at the same place we started it – Seven Rivers bar, you will be treated with a free glass of local beer here to relax and discuss the tour with new friends you met in these unforgettable five days! 

What is included:

  • Transportation: comfortable mini-bus with air-conditioning and seat belts

  • Accommodation (hotel in Altyn Emel and Chundzha – shower & toilet inside of the room, guest house in Satty village)

  • Food – 5 lunches, 4 breakfasts, 4 dinners.

  • Water – 1L per person per day

  • Tour-guide

  • 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)

  • Hiking sticks

  • Sunscreen

  • Hat

  • Insect repellent

Photography from Slawomir Adamczak, Pawel Plocienniczak & Stephen Bridger

Price for the 5-day group tour from Almaty: 485 USD

Group tour will take place if seven or more participants will be ready to do the trip. Please let us know if you’d like to take a tour by emailing us and we will contact you 5 days before the tour to inform you if the tour will take place or not. If we have seven or more participants, we will send you our bank details to pay 20% (97 USD) deposit of tour’s price. The rest 80% (388 USD) of the payment needs to be paid at the beginning of the tour (morning of the first day). 

YOUR TRIP ON A MAP