Kazakhstan Tours: Altyn Emel National Park

Two Days in Altyn Emel National Park

Aktau clay mountains, Altyn Emel National Park

Duration: 2 days

Altyn Emel National Park is many things – dunes, semi-desserts, ancient clay mountains, frozen volcanoes among others. But even considering that this is the largest reserve in Kazakhstan and part of UNESCO’s world heritage, we’re pretty fascinated by another thing it has: Altyn Emel is always new and exciting, no matter how many times you visited it before.

In Dostar Trips, we treat each of our guests as a friend we just didn’t meet yet (“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!

Highlights:

  • Enjoy a 2-day trip to the biggest natural park of Kazakhstan
  • Climb to the summit of Aktau mountains (bottom of the ancient Tethys ocean) and be rewarded with the panoramic view of a lifetime
  • Take a road trip to the unique singing sand dunes that never move despite the constant strong winds
  • Spend your evenings stargazing and planet-spotting in some of Kazakhstan’s best dark sky locations

Day 1: SINGING DUNE

Hike and listen the Singing Dune, enjoy the view of Ili river valley. 

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We will have an early start today by picking you up from your hotel (or Airbnb) on an air-conditioned vehicle led by the super-experienced driver. Our guide will meet you at the lobby 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 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. 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 steppe vast 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 enjoy 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: AKTAU & KATUTAU MOUNTAINS

Hike at Aktau & Kattytau mountains and revel in the awesome panoramic view.

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Fuel up with a hearty village breakfast and hop in the car for a lengthy (1,5 hour one way) 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. These mountains are 30 km long, 1 km high – and 400 million years old.

We will show you the most epic hidden paths leading to the top of Aktau mountains to revel in the awesome panoramic view – on a clear day you can see the naked and boundless bottom of the ancient Tethys ocean in front of you for hundreds of miles! This is a moment to recognize how much a little tiny thing we are in this tremendous universe around us.

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!

These mountains are formed by lava and some associated volcanic rocks. Time, water, and the sun have created intricate rock rarities here for us to explore.

After such active two days, you can pat yourself – the biggest national park of Kazakhstan is discovered and lifetime impressions are made! It is time to drive back to the city and go through your phone photos to ensure that you have made the best possible decision by taking this trip with (humble) us! We will drop you off right at your hotel or Airbnb or airport – right where you need us to do it.

What is included:

  • Transportation

  • Accommodation

  • Food – 2 lunches, 1 breakfast, 1 dinner.

  • Tour-guide

  • Water 1l per day per person

  • All fees & tickets

What to take:

  • Comfortable shoes 

  • Warm jacket

  • Sunscreen

  • Hat

Photography from Slawomir Adamczak, Pawel Plocienniczak & Stephen Bridger

General Terms & Conditions

Book your trip to Kazakhstan with confidence: no deposits, total flexibility & full refund guarantee.

All prices are in USD

Number of people in a group
Price per person, USD
1

480

2

265

3

200

4

180

5

150

YOUR TRIP ON A MAP

Map of Zhetisu region