Another intriguing characteristic of the cultural city of Almaty is its location on the northern end of the many glaciers and snow-covered summits of the up to 5000m high northern Tian Shan mountains. They are also called Zailiysky Alatau mountains. You can see them from almost everywhere in the city. Needless to say that some spectacular natural sites can be found within one hour’s drive from town and we are eager to explore.
The Big Almaty Lake
As it is late October, we are already too late to do a longer multi-day hike. It’s getting really cold here and we have not packed for that. So we take the chance to do a day-trip to the nearby Big Almaty Lake to catch a glimpse of the great nature of south Kazakhstan. Luckily the day is cloudless and sunny.
We organize a driver with help from our hostel staff. After one hour through nice villages and along a curvy mountain road we are there. The first sight of lake is simply breathtaking: The intense bright turquoise water contrasts against the white of the snow-covered surrounding mountains and the clear blue sky. Have a look at the photos below to get an idea of that beauty.
We have a little surreal encounter when we leave the road and walk towards the dam at the lake. A group of musicians is taking a music video out here! The poor guys only wear thin shirts in the icy wind, but they are real Kazakhs. They seem not to freeze at all.
Surrounding the full lake on the shore is not possible because of a steep mountain reaching into it. Instead we peep into the valley between the two snow-covered mountains. Some empty houses stand around and you could continue further on a path leading away from the lake.
In the lake itself we find an old truck and some nice bouldering rock. Christian accepts this invitation willfully!
After 3 hours of walking alone in the cold we have taken in enough of the scenery and head back to the city with some Kazakh Pop-Beats in the car.
I cannot emphasize it enough: the surroundings of Almaty with their diverse nature are really worth exploring. All the canyons, forests, nature reserves and animals make Almaty a dream base camp for hikers. We will definitely see Almaty again in hiking season!
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