Altyn Emel National Park

This tour in Kazakhstan will not leave anyone indifferent. You will feel like in another world Among the white and motley mountains.

The State National Natural Park “Altyn-Emel” is located in the heart of Central Asia 160 km from Almaty among the southern spurs of the Dzhungar Alatau range the largest in the Republic of Kazakhstan. This protected place is stored by mute evidence of events in the life of nomadic tribes. In the park are various archaeological areas. The most impressive of them are the so-called royal barrows of Besshatyr (five tents). These are the huge hills reaching 20 meters in height and 100 meters in diameter – burials of the Saka leaders of the 7th – 3rd centuries BC. Mounds surrounded by rings of menhirs, megalithic structures, reminiscent of the famous monuments of Stonehenge in Britain.

The territory of the park covers a variety of landscapes: from the desert and the semi-desert to many mountainous areas up to the highland areas. Here is a rare opportunity to get acquainted with the unique natural phenomenon – Singing Barchan. This sandy ridge about 3 kilometers long and 80 meters high has an extraordinary property. Sometimes in the summer, when the sand is disturbed by the wind or people, the mountain begins to emit a powerful continuous buzz like the hum of an airplane.

The flora of higher plants has 634 species 41 of which are rare species and 29 species of plant are endemic. In the floodplain forests the poplar turanga, jida and various types of shrubs grow. In the desert there are areas of forest of black saxaul and on the slopes of Singing Barhan – the thickets of white saxaul.

Here you can meet the herds of large ungulates, once inhabited expanses in Central Asia. These are kulans, arhars, gazelle and Siberian mountain goats. The park territory is habited with wild boar and Siberian roe deer.

The fauna of mammals includes more than 50 species, among which such rare species as snow leopard, wild cat-manul, Central Asian otter, and stone marten.

On the territory of the park there are about 250 species of birds, of which 22 are rare. In the mountains the golden eagles, snakeheads, bearded – lambs, falcons – Saker Falcon and others nestle. The desert is populated with black-bellied furrows, sajis and Mac-Queen’s bustard. The wetlands are habited with herons, ducks, sandpipers and other birds. The Ili River and the Kapchagai Reservoir are rich in such a fish as carp, white cupid, catfish, pike perch, asp, and other species.

The central office of the park is located in the village of Basshi which is 250 km from Almaty.

The park is located itself from south to north more than 50 km and from east to west more than 250 km

Once, according to the Kazakh legend the troops of Genghis Khan made their way through this valley in order to conquer the whole of Central Asia in 1219. Seeing on the horizon of the mountain, the commander screamed “GOLDEN SEDO”. If you look at the mountain pass you can really see the saddle.

Singing Barkhan

The main attraction of the reserve is the dune called “SINGING BARKHAN” on the slopes of which there are thickets of the rarest white saxaul. Singing Barkhan is a mountain of sand of light tones, has a length of up to 3.0 km and a height of 150 m. Barkhan is located in the corridor between the ridges of Dzungarian Alatau – the Big and Small Kalkans which are 182 km to north-east from Almaty. Singing Barkhan is a phenomenon of nature and famous for the fact that dry weather makes the sands sound like a melody of an organ. The reason for the sound of sand is the friction of grains of sand when it moves (wind, walking along it, etc.). The more the moving mass sand, the more expressive the sound – from a weak squeak to a melody of the organ and even a roar. Meanwhile the dry sand mass sounds only.

You can see the Ili river stretched by as a snake from the top of the barkhan and the red mountains of Boguty and the purple mountains of Sogety too. The view of the precipitous side from the west side is closed by the mountains of Kalkan. You can see there the Jungar Alatau, Chulak, Matai, Altyn Emel mountains in the North.

Barkhan was entered to the short list of 7 new natural wonders!

Mountains of Aktau

The mountains of Aktau represent a elfin landscape of variety of shapes and shades. There are white clays, bluish-gray limestones, sandstones, pebble, and gypsiferous tertiary deposits.

The stone galleries stretch for miles. The texture of the stone changes after each new turning of twisting gorges. The mountains go up the Gothic towers and columns then break into narrow labyrinths where hardly two at once can pass.

The mountains of Aktau are a world famous paleontological deposit. There are remains the ancient animals, whose age is estimated at 25-30 million years.

The mountains of Aktau are translated as “White mountains” – Cretaceous mountains of different and mostly white colors. The mountains are interesting thanks to their amazing landscape. The age of the mountains is about 60-70 million years. The mountains consist of many layers of lifeless stones with colorful patterns which have a mystery of nature. You can meet representatives of the subtropical forms of ancient plants.

The view of these mountains is called a “Lunar landscape”. The legend says that this landscape becomes as the mountains rose from the seabed to south of the ridge and that is why preserved sections of colored sedimentary layers have Paleogene and Neogene of lake and river origin.

There are also the mountains of Katutau on the territory of the natural park. The mountains of dark red sandstone have volcanic origin. The quaint shape of the mountain resembles a giant coral among the desert and Rocky Mountains.

Day 1

07:00departure from Almaty city
10:00arrival at the Basshi village
(registration of special documents )
10:30departure to the chalk mountains, Aktau
12:00Arrival in Aktau
(Walking around and a light lunch 2-3 hours)
15:00departure to the hotel
16:30arrival and free time
bath, pool (at the request of the client, Fee-for-service)

Day 2

07:00wake-up, breakfast
09:00departure to the Singing Barkhan
10:00departure to the chalk mountains, Aktau
(2 hours for a walk)
15:00departure to the hotel
departure to Almaty