Kazakhstan has countless nature sites, most of which are perfect for hiking and eco tourism. However, if you are planning a trip to Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty, there are five national parks and nature reserves near the city that we recommend visiting.
Altyn Emel National park
Approximately 93 miles north of Almaty, it is a nature preservation park that was established in 1996 and covers 4600 square km. There is a large chance visitors of the park will see some of the rarest hoofed animals like kulan. Close proximity to Almaty makes Altyn Emel National Park one of the most accessible places to enjoy Kazakhstan’s wild undiscovered nature. Some of the most popular attractions at Altyn-Emel include:
- Singing Dune/Singing Sands
- Besshatyr burial mounds/ “Stonehenge” of Kazakh Steppes
- Tamgaly Tas
- Katutau and Aktau mountains
Ile-Alatau National Park
Located only 17 miles from Almaty, Ile-Alatau stretches far beyond the city covering about 200 thousand hectares from Gorge Turgen in the east to the river Chemolgan in the west. The main tourist site here is Big Almaty Lake, which is located about a mile and a half above sea level. The park is also home to approximately 300 species of animal and bird, including the snow leopard, Central-Asian lynx, Tean-Shan brown bear and many others.
Charyn Canyon National Park
Charyn Canyon National Park is located about 120 miles east of Almaty. The main attraction of the park is the Charyn Canyon, which is often compared to the Grand Canyon and has even been nicknamed the Grand Canyon’s little brother. Its fiery rocky landscape stretching across 56 miles has become an iconic picture of southeast Kazakhstan.
Kolsai Lakes National Park
Located approximately 180 miles from Almaty, Kolsai Lakes are considered a pearl of Northern Tien-Shan. The three lakes, “Lower,” “Mynzholi,” and “Top,” are situated at heights 1800, 2250 and 2700 meters above sea level. Apart from the lakes pristine beauty and clear water, their distinctive feature includes depth that can reach 80 meters. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations because there are plenty of fun things to do like camping, hiking, mounting bicycling, horseback riding, and more.
Alakol Nature Reserve
Alakol Nature Reserve is situated in Almaty and East Kazakhstan oblasts. It covers an area of 20743 hectares. This nature reserve is based around Alakol Lake, which is a popular summer destination. Alakol Nature Reserve is also located close to Balkhash Lake, one of the best places to see water birds.
Sources: www.welcometokazakhstan.kz, caravanistan.com, visitkazakhstan.kz