Following the Nomad’s way: Routes for horseback riding


Breathing in fresh air, admiring the beauty of the mountains while sitting comfortably on your saddle – this is a perfect vacation, isn’t it?

The nature that rests in Kazakhstan is amazing, as it is the promised land of the ancient nomads. This land seems to open up from a new side when you discover its beauty the same way that the ancestors of Kazakhstan did – riding on horse. These stocky and enduring horses will take you along the mountain paths through dense forests; they will ford turbulent rivers without hesitation and gallop at full speed across a hot desert for a long period of time. You will definitely remember this type of vacation again and again; at least, until your legs stop aching from sitting in a saddle for a good amount of time. Of course, we are joking and there may be some light discomfort after horseback riding for a while, but this will mean that your muscles have been exposed to some physical exercise – exercise with steppe flavour.

Above all you should have an invaluable positive experience and interaction with this proud animal: horses are very smart and sensitive, that’s why you should learn to control your emotions all along the way. Bear in mind, that horses can quickly understand whether a rider is afraid of the horse or not. If yes, then be prepared that your faithful horse will behave a little naughty (some more than others), so it won’t obey you and will do its own thing, not yours. Therefore, horseback riding tours, especially long-lasting ones, will be an excellent way to harden you and build your character. Sooner or later, you will understand how to make the horse nomads understand who is in charge! Later you can use this experience in your normal life, with some adjustments though. In general, horseback riding does not have any disadvantages at all, so with this we will show what tours you can try out on your horse as you ride through the wonderful landscape of Kazakhstan.

Equestrian pass between Kolsay Lakes

Three Kolsay Lakes are located one above another and are popular among tourists as a good location for walks and horseback riding. Given that there is an adequate road that ends after the first lake and a steep mountainous path that leads to the third lake. So there is a perfect route for tourist that has been paved between Kolsay Lake II and Kolsay Lake III. While walking along this route, you can admire the untouched beauty of picturesque nature – fluffy fir trees pointing to the sky, with their acute tops fully covering the steep mountain slopes; clear lake water opalesce with all the shades of blues and dark blue; flowery meadows and fringes that call tired travellers to stop for rest and to treat themselves with some of the berries and mushrooms, the land has to offer.

Advice: after long hours of sitting in that saddle be prepared to have your legs grow numb – which will make you to learn to walk again by taking your feet. Wearing the right clothes is a must-have: of course, you don’t need to buy special jockey breeches with leather inputs, but gym wear will be useful as it covers your legs – this will prevent you from hurting your legs with the saddle foothold and also from insects’ bites. If you enjoy galloping or if you are afraid of falling off the horse, then buy elbow and knee pads to protect your joints. You could use a helmet as well, but this is not so necessary, as horses that are intended for touristic tours are well-trained, calm and obedient.

Horseback riding tours in Burabay

You may choose your tour based on your taste and preferences not only in terms of the horses, but also in terms of the terrain where your route is and will be passing through. The riding tours here are always impressive: breathing in sweet forest air and admiring the beauty of the mountains and the sparkling lakes all the while you are sitting comfortably in your saddle – how does this sound to you? Don’t forget what we said earlier, so you will want to bring along bug spray and a pouch of goodies, and sit back and enjoy the tour. Depending on your capabilities and preferences, you may choose any of these most popular routes:

There is a wonderful tour across the forest-steppe area at the territory of the Elk farm. Here you will encounter elk, deer, and yaks all in their natural habitat. You will have a qualified instructor that will teach you the basics of horse riding and will also show you your mistakes so that you will have an easy ride during the trek.

At Burabay’s exit, behind a poultry farm, there is a camping site that makes a specialty out of horse nomads riding tours. The route itself is not lengthy; the whole ride will take you around one hour, if riding slowly. For the faster riders you will also like this location – since this area is suitable for galloping.

You can also try horse riding within your hotel’s territory as many camping sites offer horse riding trips Kazakhstan for a moderate fee.

If you are an experienced horse rider and you like long rides, they have a wonderful special for you. There is a tour from Astana to Burabay with a stop in Akkol, a small town on the route to Burabay. The town is located on the shore of Lake Akkol. There you may have a break as well as giving a break to your horse.

Horse riding trips and tours in Ile Alatau Mountains

Nature of Ile Alatau (also known as Zailisky Alatau) is rich with its changing landscapes. The terrains are mostly mountainous, but among these mountains, there are forest-steppe areas as well as wide plateaus, high meadows and lakes. It is very convenient, and easy to enjoy all this beauty sitting on horse. But some terrains are hard-to-pass or too lengthy for walking on foot (unless you are a trekking enthusiast). So choose any route (there is a great number of these!) that you like and now, that you are equipped with our advice, go ahead and have a memorable adventure!

Here are several horse riding routes that are popular among the local people and the foreign tourists.

A 5-day horse riding tour to Kairak Waterfall through Oijailau area, this is a wonderful opportunity to dive into true nomad’s life: every day you will be riding, approximately, 20 km admiring views of Turgen Gorge, Asy Plateau (where you may gather lots of mushrooms and berries), Oijailau Natural Boundary and Donjailau Plateau, gradually, getting closer to the pearl of the trip – Kairak Waterfall.

For beginners and inexperienced riders it is possible to arrange lessons with the riding club and take on a one-hour ride to Butakovskiy Gorge in Ile Alatau Mountains. There the qualified instructors will teach you the basics on how to interact with horses, so you will enjoy these activities at your own leisure.

There are several horseback tours of various distances on the weekends. The first tour is a 12 km ride that leads to Kim Asar Gorge including a visit to Butakovskiy Waterfall. The second trip is a 14 km ride to Alma Arasan Gorge that includes a visit to a mountain spur with a fabulous view of Big Almaty Lake and the city. The third tour you will ride for about 16 km, which will lead you to Turgen Gorge with the beautiful Kairak Waterfall.

Now try to imagine horseback riding to Krasnyi Yar Hollow along the picturesque river Oi-Karagal. This ride lasts for about four hours and in the course of the trip you will enjoy a rave of green colour and views that open up from the highest point of the mountains climbed.

Horse riding trips and tours to Kungei Alatau Mountains

Horse riding trips to Kungei Alatau are famous for their long duration, lots of interesting locations and unimaginable views of huge mountain ranges that are almost fully covered with snow. Such tours are more suitable for true extreme sport enthusiasts and for experts in horse riding. Of course, tour organizers will prepare in advance everything that you will need for a comfortable time in the wild; but still be prepared to meet the various difficulties, from cold weather to grazing your inner thighs, if you wear wrong clothes. In any case, these impressive tours will compensate for all the shortages. So, here is a suggested list of routes:

First there is a 3-day horse riding tour towards the mountainous countryside of Kungei Alatau that starts from Charyn Canyon and passes by Kolsay Lakes and then a climb leading up to nameless mountain path. By the way, some of the fabulous views of mountain peaks open up from this mountain path. The last point is picnic on the shore of Kaindy Lake with its famous guards: acute trunks of Tien Shan fir trees stick out of pure clear water – the fir trees were growing there long time ago but then had been flooded with water.

On to the 4-day horse riding trip that includes even more interesting locations: as always, this tour will originate from Charyn Canyon. This adventure will lead you to a cascade of three Kolsay Lakes – on this trek there is a long passage to a mountain hut where you can stay for dinner and sleep overnight; after that you will go along the Taldy River, with access to Kaindy Lake, then onto the Moon Canyon. It is a very unusual place that reminds many of the local people and visitors of the moon’s surface because of its landscape and how it is coloured into a pale yellow.

Now we have a 5-day track that is very similar to previous trip but with an added interesting peculiarity – a rather complicated way to Kolsay Lake (tourists have not visited it for so long) has been added into the route. These are the ancient mountain paths, where you can see not only traces of wild animals but also the real wild animals themselves in their natural habitat. These are the wild animals that are not afraid of people, as people rarely appear in these places.

Then there is a 6-day track that includes some elements of walking (trekking) – climbing up to the middle of Kolsay Lake along the wild mountainous paths. Here you won’t meet any tourists but you will enjoy the atmosphere of privacy and unity with nature to the max.

And finally, the most impressive and mystical, half horse riding and half walking (trekking), route that lasts for 7 days – taking you to Kolsay Lakes on horseback, passing by a mountain hut, and then climbing up Kyzymshek Mountain top with a fantastic view to Khan Tengri Peak and Victory Peak. Looking down the hillside you will see Lake Issyk-Kol and this is where the territory of Kyrgyzstan begins! Besmoinak Pass is where you can have a rest and maybe do some walking to Kolsay Lake downhill towards the Kurmety River and their traditional picnics that wait for you by Kaindy Lake, not to mention the finishing routes by the Moon Canyon. This is a busy programme, but it is well worth!

Horse riding journeys and tours along Dzungarian Alatau Mountains

Dzungarian Alatau… Is a harsh but beautifully placed mountain range with a total 700 sq.m., and the highest peak is set at 4,5 thousand meters above sea level. Most local paths here are animal trails and are completely unsuitable for walking and horse riding tourists. It is very dangerous to set off as the beaten path for this journey has not been prepared, that’s why it is better to travel with a group led by professional instructor. We offer you three routes with different length but equally rich for vacation memories. So take with you bare essentials only, everything else has already been thought out for you!

The first tour is of 6 days and is quite affordable in terms of horse riding skills. It is also a good physical activity but you may want to have some experience in mountain climbing. Long uphill climbing and downhill descending with some dangerous paths may upset you a bit, but you will be rewarded with panoramic views like no other, as the land opens up right in front of you. So here, we think that the gains outweigh the risks on this journey.

The 8-day route is not for the quiet holiday lovers. There is wild nature, unbeaten mountain paths with an increased level of complexity but they come with an inexpressible sense of freedom from civilization. You may meet some wild animals there; but hopefully none of them are bears since they also inhabit this area. The pearl of the whole travel is a wonderful mountain lake hidden from the pervasive tourists.

Then there is a 9-day journey that is also not for the weak at heart travelers. It is desirable to be in very good shape and have some experience in staying high altitude in the mountains. There are extremely difficult paths that delve into the depths of Dzungarian Alatau, accompanied with rocky cliffs, and camping in a tent with the silence and solitude of the Kazakh night!

As you see, there is a variety of excellently arranged horseback tours to choose from: there is a suitable tour for everyone, from beginner to the experienced rider. We will just add some recommendations: assess your opportunities and choose the route that you will really like. Do not start the 9-day journey if you are not confident in your physical condition; there are many easy and equally impressive tours. Believe us, the best and brightest impressions you will get from a comfortable horse riding journey. Otherwise, you will be constantly distracted by fatigue and not watching the grandeur of nature and experiencing the little joys that form the basis of all the warm memories that one can take in.

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