The City of Nomads
Journey into the past when you visit the City of Nomads in the Almaty Province
The City of Nomads in the Almaty Province once served as a filming location for the Kazakh-French historical movie “Nomad: The Warrior” (2005), an adaptation of the second book from the “Nomads” trilogy by the Kazakh writer Ilyas Esenberlin. It was the most expensive Kazakh movie ever made and Kazakhstan's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 79th Academy Awards.
The fortress walls and the main gates overlooking the Ili River are visible from afar. The fortress stands on the Ili River bank, near the Tamgaly-Tas Tract, famous for its ancient rock paintings. Nomads have lived there from time immemorial, here the fate of nomadic tribes was decided.
Although it’s not a historical site you will definitely still feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The fortress exhibits a high degree of historical accuracy – it’s known as a ‘Caravanserai’, an inn on the Silk Road where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey. It features residential houses, religious buildings, a dungeon, a well, and a mosque with minarets. There are also reconstructed medieval weapons of defense and watchtowers. If there was a threat to the city, the gates were closed, and the caravanserai became a fortress.
Useful tips for 2021-2022
You’ll have to pay 1000 tenge to enter the City of Nomads. The territory keeper can conduct an excursion at the request.
How to get there
The City of Nomads is located approximately 90 km (56 mi) away from Almaty. You can get there with a group tour organized by a local travel agency. If you prefer to travel on your own, you’ll need an SUV – the roads are harsh and it’s quite a challenging drive. From Almaty, you need to follow the A3 highway towards the town of Kapchagay. Then move along the Kapchagay highway, turning left towards a village called Kazakhstan at the second interchange (the distance from Almaty to the interchange is 64 kilometers (40 mi). From there, drive for about 22 kilometers (13.7 mi) until you reach a road sign which reads “Nomad”, then turn right and follow the dirt road for about 8 kilometers (5 mi).
Food and accommodation
There are no settlements near the City of Nomads so buy food and drinks in Almaty or Kapchagay. You can set up a tent camp right on the Ili River bank if you’re up for camping, but for a more comfortable stay, it is better to return to one of the cities.