‘Best of Zhetisu’ No-Rush 5-Day Active Tour

Duration: 5 days

This is our offer to those travelers who prefer to spend more time in each place, enjoy the destination with no rush and have some free time at the end of the day. No doubt this is the best way to travel and we strongly advise you to choose this itinerary. On our 5 day tours, you will discover endless semi-desserts of Altyn Emel, stunning Charyn canyon, breath-taking Kolsai mountain lakes, and mysterious sunken forests in Kaindy lake. Join us for a full unforgettable Zhetisu experience!


  • Enjoy a 5-day trip to the best natural parks around Almaty

  • Open the mystery of Singing Dunes; hike the fantastic “lunar” Aktau mountains – 70 million years ago it was a bottom of an ancient  Tethys Ocean; take a rest under 700-year willow – the same as Genghis khan’s soldiers did

  • Enjoy breathtaking scenery and take spectacular photographs while hiking around the lakes; visit a sunken forest of Kaindy lake; experience Kazakh cuisine and culture in a carefully selected homestay family.

  • See Charyn Canyon, one of Kazakhstan’s natural treasures


Get picked up from your hotel by air-conditioned  4WD vehicle with an experienced driver and meet your guide. Along the scenic drive, you will pass the little villages and farmers’ markets, artificial lake, and Kapchagai town – one of 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’s time to see the first miracle of our trip – Singing Dunes, rising about 150 meters and stretching for a distance of approximately 2-3 km. Learn how is it possible that sand dunes are appeared in steppe vast area and, with luck, listen to the organ-like song of Singing Dunes. Never have climbed a dune before? Here we will have a lot of time for hiking, taking magnificent photos, and enjoy amazing panoramic view!

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



Early morning breakfast at hotel’s café

Departure to Aktau mountains – a museum of the earth’s distant past. Fantastically-shaped natural sculptures rise from the bottom of an ancient sea in all the colors of the rainbow, from the pale blue “Lunar landscape” to the “red mountains”. These mountains are 30 km long, 1.5-2 km deep – and 400 million years old. The way from the hotel to the mountains takes around 1.5 hours.

After arriving at the place it’s time to unpack your delicious lunch and enjoy it by the side of the Aktau mountains!

The next place we visit is the incredible Katutau mountains formed by lava and some associated volcanic rocks. Time, water, and the sun have created intricate rock rarities here. Snap photos as your guide explain the origin of such a fanciful landscape, and then continue the trip to see 700-year-old willow!

Take a rest under 700-year old willow – possibly the same as warriors of great Genghis khan did?  

Time to go back to Basshi village and get a delicious dinner & well deserved rest!



Breakfast at the hotel at Bashi village.

Kick-off your third day of travel to see the spectacular landscapes of Charyn Canyon. Throughout your tour, 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.

Leave for another part of Charyn Canyon – Moon Canyon located 30 mins from the Valley of Castles, but with such a different landscape! 

Leaving to Satty village, which is the closest place to stay around Kolsay & Kaindy lakes. 

Arrival to the village, homestay with a local family, dinner, Russian banya.



Breakfast at Satty village.

We drive to the first Kolsai Lake and start hiking to the second lake. It is 16 km (around 16 miles) both ways, with the highest point 2700 meters (1.7 miles), it takes around 3-4 hours to reach the second lake.

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 the border guards.

Picnic at the shore of the second Kolsai lake.

Coming back to the first Kolsay lake, time to take the last photos and drive back to Satty village.

Arrival to the village, homestay with a local family, dinner, Russian banya.

Overnight in Satty village




Departure to 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. It is impossible to describe in words all this mystical splendor of the lake – it is necessary to go there and see everything with own eyes.

Leaving to the city – there is a long way back to Almaty – around 5 hours, on the way we will stop for a lunch in one of the village cafes.  

Arrival at the city.

Optional: it is also possible to drop you off at the ‘Karkara’ border with Kyrgyzstan or give a drive to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan. Please contact us for details via e-mail.

Optional: Please remember, there is always a great option for camping at desserts, forests, at the shore of mountain lakes – please write us where would you like to do camping instead of staying in a guest house or hotel and we will change accommodation options! Bonfire is a bonus! 😉


What is included:

  • Transportation – 4WD air-conditioned car

  • Accommodation (hotel in Altyn Emel and Chundzha – shower & toilet inside of the room, homestay in Satty village – very basic conditions, no shower, the toilet is outside of the home, Russian Banya)

  • 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

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