These colorful mountains are some of the most striking natural wonders of the vast expanses of Saryarka.
Saryarka is a large low-relief plain extending throughout Central Kazakhstan. Once there were high mountains, but weathering and erosion reduced them slowly but surely. The highest remaining mountains, located in the east of Saryarka, are the Kyzylaray Mountains (1565 m – 5135 ft) and the Karkaraly Mountains (1403 m – 4603 ft). The red-yellow Akjar Mountains (also spelled as Akzhar) are not the highest, but are certainly the most eye-catching.
Formed by loamy soils and gypsum, which give them their color, these hills offer a surprising contrast to much of the region. But the colorful hills are not the only thing to admire here; this area is also home to rare birds of prey. You may even take a glimpse of them during your trip.
Of course, the Akjar Mountains worth visiting on their own, but we recommend that you make a list of the attractions that you can explore along the way. For example, the Ulytau Mountains, Terekty Aulie Tract, the Mausoleums of Jochi Khan, Alasha Khan, and Dombauyl and others are all within traveling distance.
Useful tips for 2020-2021
How to get there
We recommend that you go on a trip with a tour or accompanied by a guide who knows the area well. There is no public transport available.
The starting points of your trip to the Akjar Mountains will be the villages of Sarlyk (also known as Amangeldy) and Korgasyn in Karagandy Province. The road to the mountains from Sarlyk (72 km – 45 mi) will take about two hours. Drive west from the village, and after 13 km (8 mi) the road will turn northwest, then strictly north, to the bed of the Saryturgay River. Drive further along its left bank until you see the ford. After crossing the ford, drive another 4 km (2.5 mi) northeast to the Akjar Mountains.
The village of Korgasyn is one of the largest villages in the northern part of the Ulytau Region. You can drive from there to the valleys of the Karaturgay, Tamdy, and Saryturgay rivers which are near the Akjar Mountains.
Food and accommodation
In the village of Sarlyk, which is about 36 km (22 mi) away from the village of Ulytau, there are two small shops and a couple of guest houses. There is no gas station.
In the village of Korgasyn there are several shops, and a standpipe with drinking water. The area has no gas stations, cafes, or places to stay the night, however.
Thus, it is better to have everything you need with you and be ready to spend the night in a tent. If you’re not up to camping, you can return to the larger villages nearby, such as the Ulytau village, and stay in a guest house.