Guide-book: Turgen waterfalls

Turgen gorge

Turgen gorge is located 80km to the east from Almaty: being 45km long in total, it starts near Turgen village and ends at a foot of Asy pass. Turgen is one of the most beautiful gorges in Zailisky range. While you’re moving further by the road that stretches deep into the canyon along the overflowing Turgen River, you feast your eyes on the richness of the luxuriant vegetation. Turgen valley is best known for its waterfalls: there are 7 big falls in this area but 2 of them are definitely “must visit” places: a Bear waterfall (30min of hiking from AkBulak café) – is 30 meters tall and located a height of 1450asl, and Kairak waterfall – the gem of Turgen collection. It will take 2,5-3 hours to reach Kairak from Batan place (upper reaches of Turgen gorge, end of asphalt road).

CLIMATE


Temperatures:

  • April: +2°...+12°C daytime; -5°...+5°C in the night
  • July:+15°...+25°C daytime; + 5°...+15°C in the night
  • October: -2°...+8°C daytime; -8°...+2°C in the night
  • January: -10°...-20°C daytime,  -15°...-25°C in the night


Snow cover:

  • April 1-2m
  • July --------
  • October 0.1-0.2m
  • January 0.5-1 m

INFRASTRUCTURE

Roads: there is a good asphalt road from Almaty to the upper reaches of Turgen river (80km). The road in the gorge is smooth, without any significant ascents.


Trails: those marked on the map are comfortable and frequently used.


National Parks: Turgen gorge is a part of Ile Alatau NP. There is a ranger station located at 6th km after entering the gorge (entrance fee is required: KZT 420 p/p as it was in 2017).


Petrol stations: there are plenty of petrol stations along the Kuldja road. The last one inside a gorge is at the entrance of Turgen village (on the turn to the gorge).


Shops and cafes: small shops and cafes are concentrated in the lower part of the gorge, up to Akbulak café. There can be few makeshift (work in summer only) local-style cafes between Akbulak and Batan farm, but nothing above Batan.


Water: spring with clear drinking water can be found in many places along the road inside a gorge


Cellular coverage: there is a stable cellular connection in a gorge up to the trout farm. It can be in summer also near Stetson rancho, but no connection above Stetson.

ACCOMMODATION


Guest houses

• Royal Fish hotel (in lower part, near trout farm)

Turgen Dacha guest house (near trout farm)

• Trekking Club campsite (near Batan, in the upper reaches of the gorge)

Camping

• yurta camping is available along the gorge in summer period (small local business)

• tent camping: plenty of good glades along the river (no permission is required)

HOW TO GET FROM ALMATY

Drive from Almaty to the east by Kuldja road for 40km. Then turn right in a direction of Issyk town (there is a sign). Move by the road for the next 15km and drive through Issyk town (by the main avenue). The main road will run further east in a direction of Turgen village. Just before the Turgen village entrance (there is a sign “Turgen”) you’ll see a big petrol station on the right hand. Here you need to turn right in a gorge. Follow the gorge up by the road (there is only one road inside a gorge) for the next 26km, up to the end of asphalt road.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO


Nature and sights:

  • spruce and birch forests of the Zailisky (Trans-Ili) Alatau
  • relic Shep-Turgen mossy groves
  • waterfalls: 3 big ones and 4 small
  • wildlife in upper reaches: deer, mountain goats, eagles etc.

Summer activity options:

Winter activity options: ski touring, winter hiking

POSSIBLE RISKS


In March and April, due to warming and a large amount of snow on the slopes of the gorge, an avalanche situation may develop

Activity options:

Hiking to the Kairak waterfall

The hiking part of a tour starts at a confluence of Turgen and Kishi Turgen rivers, near Batan place in the upper reaches of the famous Turgen gorge. A good, wide path follows up the Turgen stream: it was initially designed to be used as a National Park’s road but the main bridge in Batan has been washed away by the mudflow, so now everyone can enjoy this nice walk to the Big Kairak waterfall!
There are 8 kilometres in total from Batan (start point) to the waterfall, and there is no significant difference in height thus no any ascents, steep slopes and dangerous points. All you need is to enjoy the amazing wild nature around – deep pine groves (local Schrenk pine) paved with endemic mossy grasses, ash-tree shrubs, colourful meadows full of flowers, dragonflies and butterflies…Having crossed 11 old bridges, you finally come at a confluence of Turgen and Kairak rivers where you should turn left and hike up for another 20 minutes through the spruce grove, following the Kairak river. Even there, inside a forest you can hear the voice of the falling water: Kairak waterfall appears suddenly, just around the last corner.
The Kairak waterfall is one of the biggest in the region: it’s height is more than 55 meters (70 in total) and it never dries. Thanks to the location, it still remains clear and untouched by civilization – in Kazak language its name is associated with bear (sometimes people meet brown bear here in early Spring). Besides bears, that are really rare of course, the Turgen area is rich in deer, wild pigs, lynx and different kinds of birds.
A way to the waterfall takes 2,5-3 hours of walking. Normally we spend another 30-40 minutes near the fall to take pictures and lunch. Way back takes another 2 hours, so you should consider 5-6 hours of walking in total.

The itinerary of a day tour from Almaty looks like:
08.00 – 10.00 drive Almaty – Batan (Turgen gorge)
10.00 – 13.00 hiking to the Kairak waterfall
13.00 – 13.30 break, photo-session
13.30 – 15.30 hike back
16.00 – 18.00 drive to Almaty

Download the map in original size (4Mb) 

Turgen gorge map

 Download the map in original size (2Mb)

Turgen Almaty map

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