Altyn-Emel National Park
This national park features chalky mountains, sand dunes, burial mounds, and ancient rock carvings.
Altyn-Emel National Park, located in Almaty Province, is one of the largest national parks in Kazakhstan. It is known for spectacular scenery that includes mountains, sand deserts, sandstone formations, and steppes. The highlight of the park is the Singing Dune, which got its name because wind makes the sand emit a rumbling sound. A light breeze gives a barely audible squeak, while strong gusts produce a more intense sound, similar to that of an organ. There are several archaeological sites here; the biggest of them is Bes Shatyr (“Five Marques”) complex, consisting of Saka (a group of ancient nomadic tribes) burials. You can also explore the Aktau Mountains, multi-colored hills formed from bluish-gray sandstone and red clay.
There are three tour routes in the park.
Tour route # 1
Basshi village – Shygan cordon – Mynbulak cordon – Oshaktas stone steles – Turang groves – Shoqan Walikhanov's spring – The Singing Dune
Tour route # 2
Post # 1 - Taigak Gorge - Terekty Gorge (here you’ll see Tanbaly-Tas petroglyphs) - Jantogai cordon - Saka burial mounds.
Tour route # 3
Basshi village- Kosbastau cordon (here you’ll see a 700-year-old willow)– The Katutau Mountains – The Aktau Mountains.
You’ll need to obtain a pass to enter the park. If you’re planning to take routes # 1 and # 3, you can get a pass at the Almaty office (132 Bogenbai Batyr St., office 305a) and at the central office in the village of Basshi (73 Askarbek St). A pass for tour route # 2 can be obtained only at the Almaty office.
The starting point of routes #1 and # 3 is the village of Basshi. The starting point of route #2 is the village of Shengeldy, located at the opposite end of the park. Since the central part of the park is a quiet zone (an area where any human activity is prohibited), you can’t drive through the park. There is a bypass road connecting Basshi and Shengeldy.
We recommend that you familiarize yourself with information on the park’s official website before your trip.
Video about Altyn-Emel National Park
Useful tips for 2020-2021
How to get there
Shengeldy is 117 km (73 mi) away from Almaty. In order to reach it, drive up the Almaty-Taldykorgan highway. The village of Basshi is 245 km (152 mi) away from Almaty and 120 km (75 mi) away from the city of Taldykorgan. In the park, more than 300 km (186 mi) of maintained roads through deserts, river valleys, and vast steppes offer spectacular views.
Food and accommodation
In the park and in Basshi there are several small hotels and camping sites. At the Shygyn cordon, you can live in a yurt (a Kazakh traditional dwelling). We recommend that you book your stay in advance. Options and prices are on the park's website.