Golden Ring of Zhetisu | Southeastern Kazakhstan

KazakhstanActive, Culture, Landscapes

Experience the beauty of nature at the Altyn Emel Natural Park; the Singing Dunes, the Kyzlauyz Petroglyphs and the Besshatyr burial mounds. See the spectacular Charyn Canyon that was formed during the Paleogene Age.
Visit the Ash-tree Grove which botanists believe to be over thousand years old.
Explore the Valley of Castles which is surrounded by fancy towers composed of sedimentary rocks. Hike between two high-altitude Kolsai lakes & also visit the hauntingly beautiful Kaindy lake.

9 Nights
From SGD 2,081Per Person

Golden Ring of Zhetisu

Meet/greet on arrival in Almaty and transfer to hotel.

Overnight in Almaty.

Morning sightseeing in the central part of Almaty and learn about the history and development of the Southern capital of Kazakhstan and see its major attractions. Visit the Green Bazaar, a popular place for local people, and a great chance to experience an atmosphere of the real eastern market, its colours, smells and the crowds.

Continue to one of Almaty's oldest parks - Panfilov Park, and see Zenkov Cathedral, one of the most beautiful wooden buildings in the world. You will also visit the Memorial of Glory and Eternal Flame, dedicated to the memory of the fighters who died for freedom and independence of the country.

Then visit Medeo - the highest mountain skating rink in the world, Chimbulak Ski Resort and the dam, protecting the city from dangerous mudflow.
Next destination is the Kok-Tobe hill where the tallest TV tower in the world is located (measured from the sea level) accessible by the picturesque winding mountain road. In Kok-Tobe Park you can stroll along the winding paths of the park, admire the magnificent panorama of the city from the special observation deck and visit the shop of national souvenirs. The tour ends with the short ride from the top of the hill to the centre of the city by the famous Almaty cableway.

Dinner followed by transfer to hotel.

Overnight in Almaty.

Depart early morning to arrive at Altyn Emel National Park at mid-morning. Explore the Kyzylauyz Petroglyphs and Bes-Shatyr burial mounds.

Kyzylauyz Petroglyphs is located in the Taigak gorge, where you can find five groups of inscriptions in Tibetan language, all are of the same content and read as “Om– Mani–Pad–Me–Hum”. There are also images of generic characters, pictures of mountain goats and sheep, pictorials of the collective hunt for goats and deer, images of musical instruments and a picture of a holiday, with multiple actors.

Besshatyr burial mounds is the main sightseeing of the Altyn Emel National Park. Besshatyr” is translated as “five tents” probably because of the five biggest burial mounds on this territory, part of which has been excavated by the archaeologists in the middle of the past century. Bes-Shatyr necropolis is considered to be the shrine of ancient Saks in the 6th century BC. Altogether 18 royal burial mounds, having diameters from 8 to 70 metres, and height from 2 to 20 metres, are concentrated within a area of 2 square kilometres.

Transfer to Altyn Emel hotel.

Dinner and overnight in Altyn Emel.

Morning visit to the Singing Dunes.
The Singing Barchan (Singing Dunes) is a unique phenomenon of nature. Reaching a height of 150 metres and a length of about 3 kilometres, the Singing Dunes is located on the right river bank of the Ili River in the Altyn-Emel National Park. This sandy hill consists of very fine pure sand, which starts to “sing” in windy weather and its sound reminds one of organ music. Before a sandy storm the Dunes sounds like a drum. From the top of the Dune you can observe the grand panorama of the surroundings. In the south – thin strip of the Ili River is visible as well as purple mountains of Sogety and Boguty, looking out from the white peaks of the Ketmen ridge.
On the West, the horizon is obstructed by the steep slope of the Big Kalkan, and from the East, the Small Kalkan. In the north – violet-blue ridge of Djungarian Alatau mountains, Chulak mountain, Matai and Altyn-Emel are visible. If the weather is dry and windy, the sand-dune will “sing” you its song, which could be heard for several kilometres.

Return to the hotel for lunch.

Afternoon sightseeing tour to Katutau and Aktau mountains.
The Katutau Mountains (Harsh Mountains) are very ancient mountains with preserved volcanic outputs. The breed is very fragile and breaks down under the physical impact. Water, time and wind carved intricate shapes in the rock. Sedimentary rock of the bottom of the ancient Tethys Ocean is preserved there. From the effects of weathering it took the form of intricate figures and landscapes.

Aktau Mountains (White Mountains) are world-renowned in the paleontological field. In the layers of Paleogene lacustrine deposits well-preserved remains of ancient animals whose age is estimated at 25-30 million years have been found. Among the finds there are the remains the giant rhinos, crocodiles, turtles. Huge conical mountains remind the Egyptian pyramids and are a magical scene of the variety of shapes and colors.

Return to Altyn Emel hotel.

Dinner and overnignt in Altyn Emel.

Morning drive to the Sogdian Ash-tree Grove on the Temerlik River.
In the lower reaches of the Charyn River and its tributary Temirlik there is a unique place, where a relict species of Sogdian ash-trees are growing. According to a legend, some 5 million years ago, a wind blew a winged seed of Sogdian Ash-tree in this so-called “Valley of Rocks”. Millions of years have passed, mountains and climate have changed, the ancient era has sunk into oblivion and the mammoths have disappeared with it but the Ash-tree still remains. In 1964 the Ash-tree Grove has been given the status of the monument of nature. Four trees of about the same age are fenced off in the grove. It is some kind of open-air museum. Botanists believe that these trees are over a thousand years old.

Drive to Charyn Canyon, a natural complex, unique in its kind not only in Kazakhstan but also in the world. It was formed during Paleogene age and resembles a smaller version of the Grand Canyon of Colorado River in North America. The height of the steep slopes of the canyon varies from 150-300 metres. Extraordinary dissection of the terrain is striking; the numerous ravines form a dense, chaotic network. Wind and water have created the beautiful “Valley of Castles”, where you are always surrounded by the intricate towers composed of sedimentary rocks. Some rocks are shaped like the towers of a mediaeval fortress and hence the name. The length of the valley is more than 2 kilometres in length and up to 80 metres in width. For millions of years, nature has been erecting magnificent castles carefully and slowly, creating a unique architecture. You can spend hours walking among the strange towers and columns, amazed by the wild imagination of nature.

We leave for Kolsai Lakes in the afternoon to arrive at the Saty settlement (1,800m), where we stay for the night.

Dinner and overnight in the guest house.

Morning trek from Kolsai Lake-1 to Kolsai Lake-2 (2,250m; 9km; 4 walking hours one way).
Kolsai Lakes – “Blue Necklace of the Northern Tien-Shan” – is represented in a cascade of three lakes. The largest lake is accessible for all visitors. It is the most beautiful lake, being in the wilderness with an abundance of mushrooms.

The lowest lake (2,000m) can be reached by car. But you have to walk a few kilometres along mountain trails to see the second and the third lakes. The highest lake (2,700m) is small and is located on the border of fir-wood and the alpine meadows and amazes by its harsh alpine beauty, as well as the rich flora and fauna. Without doubt visitors are expected to have a wonderful vacation in these places – berries, mushrooms and fishing. The water in the lakes is cold and clean, and is home to the rainbow trout – a fish that lives only in the running or spring water. In the surrounding mountains you can see Marals (Capsian red deer), mountain goats, wolves and even bears.

Picnic at nature.

Return to Saty at Kolsai Lake-1.

Dinner and overnight in the guest house.

Transfer to Kaindy Lake at the Kaindy Gorge.
Kaindy Lake (birch lake) is situated among magnificent pine forest at an altitude of 2,000m, and is famous for its origin. It was formed in 1911 owing to the powerful earthquake that triggered the landslide which blocked the valley with the natural dam. The water then flooded the valley creating the Kaindy Lake. 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. Dry trunks of fir trees overlook the water surface, like the masts of a submarine squadron. It is impossible to describe in words all this mystical splendour of the lake – it is necessary to go there and see everything with own eyes.

Picnic lunch in the midst of stunning nature.

Return to Kolsai Lake-1 where one is free at own leisure for walking or trekking in the vicinity. Horse riding is available on request (with surcharge).

Dinner and overnight in the guest house.

Morning drive to Assy plateau.
Assy Plateau is a vast high-altitude plain (2,500m), surrounded by mountain ranges of over 3000 metres. On the southwest, the valley is hemmed in by snow-capped peaks, from which the glaciers "flow down". Along the river, the forests of Tien-Shan spruces spreads. The plateau stretched for 40km and a width, in some places, of 15km. Assy Plateau – a traditional summer grazing since ancient times, is now turned into a pasture of national importance. Along the river Assy there are ancient burial mounds and rock paintings, which are amongst the highest mountainous concentrations of petroglyphs in Kazakhstan. Besides, the well-known in Kazakhstan mountain observatory also located at Assy plateau.

Drive to Turgen Gorge and visit to the Bear Waterfall.
Turgen Gorge located in the Ile-Alatau Natural Park, 90km from Almaty and is famous for its coniferous and mixed forests, relict fir moss, which creeps along the ground and forms a solid spruce carpet, alpine and subalpine meadows, lakes and springs, hot springs, medicinal plants and berries, as well as for its waterfalls. The most easily accessible one is Bear waterfall, having a height of 28m. The temperature does not exceed 12°C even on a hot day, which is why the waterfall mist refreshes and invigorates.
The name of the waterfall is not accidental; here, in a zone of mixed forests, are places where Tien Shan white-claw bears find their food.

Drive on to Almaty.

Dinner and overnight in the hotel.

Morning at leisure until transfer to the airport for departure flight.

Land Cost

Price per person in USD

9D8N Golden Ring of Zhetisu

Valid from Sep 01, 2017 to Aug 30, 2018.
                    02 Persons03-04 Pax05-06 Pax07-12 Pax*SGL Supp.
Almaty Kazakhstan Hotel 3* 2071179415771426204
Almaty Kazzhol 4* 2155186216641480220
Almaty Rixo 5* 2317159218241667380
Land price does not include air passage to/from Almaty.


  • 02 nights' twin-share accommodation in Almaty on Day 01 and Day 08 with breakfast
  • 02 nights' twin-share accommodation in the hotel of Altyn Emel National Park
    on Day 02 and Day 03
  • 03 nights' twin-share accommodation in the guest-house at Kolsai Lakes from Day 04 to Day 06
  • Transportation as indicated in the programme in comfortable minivan
  • Sightseeing as indicated in the programme with English-speaking guide
  • All environmental and admission fees during the tour
  • Meals: 07 Breakfasts, 06 lunches and 05 Dinners


  • Air passage to/from Almaty.
  • Visa support and registration on the territory of Kazakhstan, where required
  • Meals not indicated in the programme
  • Horseback riding, lake boating and other options
  • Personal expenses and other expenses not indicated in the programme
  • Tipping for guide and driver