the WHOLE Altyn Emel + Charyn canyon TWO-DAY TOUR

Charyn Canyon -Eco-park (Almaty region)

Canyon Charyn is located on the territory of the Charyn National Park, created with the purpose of preserving natural and geological objects. The National Park was established on February 23, 2004. On the territory of the park there is a large number of rare and endangered species of animals listed in the Red Book.The most famous attraction of the park is Canyon Charyn. It is a picturesque natural place, which strikes with its unearthly landscapes. The depth of the canyon is 200 m. The height of the sheer mountains of the canyon reaches 150-300 m. The canyon itself is a natural monument, built of sedimentary rocks, the age of which reaches 12 million years. The landscapes here are truly amazing. At sunset, when the sun goes beyond the horizon, the canyon Charyn is painted in scarlet, pink and orange colors. Around the silence and only from below you can hear how the violent streams of the Charyn river beat against the steep cliffs. This spectacle will not leave anyone indifferent.

One of the sights of the canyon is the so-called Valley of Castles - these rock formations resemble the shape of towers, which were as if created by unknown giants. The valley of the castles is more than 2 km long, and the width in different places reaches from 20 to 80 m.

For tourists in the national park all conditions for a pleasant stay are created. Employees of the park will show the most beautiful places, as well as will tell in detail the history of the canyon.

Altyn-Emel State National Nature Park is sprawled in the heart of Central Asia, in the valley of the Ili River, about 150 kilometres away from Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city. The park was established in 1996 to preserve the unique natural complex of this region.

Mystery of the Singing Sands

So called Singing Dune or Signing Sands is a popular attraction in Altyn-Emel. The size of the Dune is enormous: its length is about two-three kilometres, with the height of about 120 metres.

What is unique about the Dune is that in dry weather it produces melody-like sounds, which is the very reason of calling it Singing Dune. The ‘song’ of the Dune can be heard even several kilometres away from its location. So, why do the Dune sings? The reason might be that the sound is produced when very small grains of sand rub against one another: a gust of wind gives easily audible squeak, and strong gusts - a more intense and expressive sounds, which resemble sounds of an organ. However, even in calm weather one can hear music of the Dune.

Yet another mystery about the Dune is that despite the unfixed sand, it does not travel, and remains in the territory of Altyn-Emel for about several thousand years. 
Legend among the local people says, the great Genghis Khan and his faithful warriors are buried under these sands. So the Dune signs when the soul of the Khan, exhausted by the spiritual unrest, tells his descendants about his victories.

Ak tau – unique natural landscape of the Park

Marvellous mountains of Aktau with their unusual surfaces are other unique attractions located in the territory of Altyn Emel National Park. It is famous for its unique appearance, which was probably created by small volcanoes, erupted and immediately cooled down several thousand years ago. Today its unique shapes are well preserved and remain the same. These shapes include holes of all forms and sizes, grooves, cracks, gyrus, which sometimes resemble shelves, sometimes cups or royal throne, just let your imagination guide you.

These mountains could surprise you by its red, green, pink or even pale blue coloured stony slopes. The mountains are likely to be risen from the place where there used to be sea, which left its traces on the surface of the mountains. Archaeologists have discovered dinosaur bones in the mountains of Aktau, and remains of other species are being found even today.

Flora and fauna of Altyn Emel

Altyn Emel is also rich in unique plants and animals: among 634 species of plants growing in the park, 41 are rare and 27 are endemic, i.e. grow only in this region. 
An enormous-sized elm tree grows there, which is more than 700 years old. Eight people need to join their hands in order to fully embrace the tree. It is so old, that it probably witnessed Genghis Khan’s warriors, drinking water from a nearby water spring. 
There is also a tree with extremely hard bark, which was used by people to cut arrows in ancient times. This tree is called ‘stone tree’.

56 species of animals and 40 species of birds that live in the Park are listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. These are snow leopard (Panthera uncial), wild Pallas’s cat, also known as Manul (Felis manul), Middle Asian river otter (Lutra lutra), Stone marten (Martes foina), etc. 
Moreover, about 700 Turkmen koulans live in Altyn Emel. Ili river and Kapshagai are rich in fishes such as grass carp, sheat-fish, bream, etc.

Recreation at Altyn emel National Park

Sandy banks of Ili river are ideal for sunbathing and its warm water for swimming. A great view to 100 metre red rock can be seen from these banks.
On the way from one attraction to the other tourists can have a rest and try Kazakh national drinks, such as shubat or kymyz (kumys), which are perfect for quenching one’s thirst. In addition, horse or camel riding could be offered to the guests of the National Park.


Day 1 Almaty - Charyn canyon - Altyn Emel: Singing dune

Day 2 Altyn Emel: Ak tau (white) and Katu tau (coloured) mountains - Almaty.


Transport price 340$ per tour (4WD JEEP)



Accommodation (guesthouse), meal, ecological charges 50$ per person per tour. 

English-speaking guide (option: just if you need it): 100$ per tour.



Day 1

- Early departure at 6:00 am 

- Driving to Charyn canyon

- 09:30 arrival

- 09:30 -11:30 walking around, resting

- 11:30 driving to Chundzha village

- 12:30 arrival, lunch time at a local cafe

- 13:30 driving to "Altyn Emel" National park: Singing dune

- 18:00 arrival

- 18:00 -19:00 walking around, resting

- 19:00 driving to Basshi village

- 20:30 arrival to the guesthouse in Basshi village

- Late dinner

- Rest, overnight


Day 2

- 8:00 breakfast

- 8:30 driving to Ak tau mountains

- 10:00 arrival

- 10:00 -12:00 exploring the place, rest

- 12:00 -13:00 lunch (lunchboxes)

- 13:00 driving to Katu tau mountains

- 13:30 arrival

- 13:30-15:00 walking, rest

- 15:00 back to Bashi village

- 17:00 arrival

- 17:00 -17:30 dinner

- 17:30 back to Almaty

- 21:00 arrival




Number of days: 2
Covered regions:
East Kazakhstan
North Kazakhstan
South Kazakhstan
West Kazakhstan
Included services:
Accommodation (Hotel/Guesthouse)
Accommodation (Homestay)
Entrance tickets (e.g. museums, parks etc.)
Beverages (non-alcoholic)
Car (with driver)
Fuel, Petrol
Bus/Train tickets
Domestic flight tickets
What to bring: sunscreen; sunglasses; headdress; comfortable shoes; camera or camcorder.
Transport: SUV 4x4
Tour season:
Tour categories:
Private tours
Cultural tours
Adventure tours
Offroad tours
Sightseeing tours
Winter tours
Special Event tours
Wildlife tours
Highlight tours
Photo tours
Hiking tours
Horseback riding tours
Circle tours
Short tours
Budget tours
Payment Method

For a confirmed booking, a deposit of (10%) is required. Deposit is paid by credit card (secure payment via Stripe, no credit card fees). The remaining balance can be paid in cash upon start of the trip - unless Host & Traveler agree on different payment methods.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations can be made free of charge up to 30 days prior to the beginning of the booked service. The deposit (10%) is only refundable if the booking is canceled at least 30 days in advance.