3 day trip by Altyn Emel Park: Bes Shatyr, Singing Dune and Aktau
Altyn Emel National Park
Almaty – Kapchagai - Shengeldy - Altyn Emel National Park (western entry) - Bes Shatyr - Sholak mountains - Saryozek - Bas'shi village - Altyn Emel National Park (northern entry) - Singing Dune - Aktau mountains - Katutau mountains - Almaty


 Season  March - October
 Duration of the tour  3 days, 2 nights
 Activities  hiking, wildlife and bird watching, history exploring, photographing 
 What's interesting  Singing DuneAktau and Katutau mountainsBes Shatyr burial mounds, wildlife of Altyn Emel Park
 What to have Hiking shoes/trainers, high socks, long trekking pants, shorts (for summer only), t-shirt with long and short sleeves, thermo-underwear (top and bottom), wind/waterproof jacket, warm jacket, peaked cap, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, backpack for day hikes, personal hygienic set


    Day 1

The tour is initially designed to explore the amazing landscapes of Altyn Emel Park with all its attractions including Singing Dune, Aktau and Katutau mountains, Bes Shatyr sacred place, rock carvings of Sholak mountains and wildlife. The territory of a Park is huge, so we will enter it twice from different gates in order to reach all the famous places. And we start from the Western entry at Shengeldy village:
08.00 – 11.30 Drive Almaty – Shengeldy – Western Park entry – Bes Shatyr
11.30 – 13.00 Excursion around Bes Shatyr. Translated as “five hills” from Kazak, it looks like ancient necropolis and remains the main ethnographic and archaeological site of Alryn Emel National Park. A huge valley on the north bank of Ili river is used for the thousands of years by different generations of nomads: being a sacred place for ancient people (here they put their dolmens), Bes Shatyr had been also chosen as a burial site by Saki (Scythe) tribes. Dating around middle of I millennium BC it consists of 37 mounds with stone embankment. The largest royal burial mounds up to 17 meters in height are placed in the central part of the necropolis covering area of 2 square kilometers.
13.00 – 13.30 Lunch in Bes Shatyr
13.30 – 14.30 Drive from Bes Shatyr to Sholak mountains (Kyzylauz gorge) to look at rock carvings.
14.30 – 16.00 Excursion by the gorge
When move to BesShatyr, you can see the famous Sholak Mountains in the North. It is one the southern spurs of the Semirechensky Alatau and almost entirely located in Altyn Emel National Park. Dry, old, badly eroded mountains are manly composed of igneous rocks. There are few open gorges, that are “must visit” places here: Kyzylauz and Taygak. Kyzylauz Gorge is relatively short, rocks have a pinkish tint at its entrance and due to that valley got its name (“kyzylauz” in Kazak means “red mouth”) The bottom of the canyon is broad and thickly overgrown with shrubs (spirea, dog rose, ephedra etc.). Among small groves of trees (including ironwoods) some big clear creeks run. Rocky slopes of Sholak mountains look utterly lifeless from a  distance, but up close they are full of life: graceful Siberian ibexes called Teki live on the cliffs, Black Kite is soaring in the sky. Inside the gorge, on the black stones and rocks, many carvings has been done – especially images of goats and other animals, lots of images of deer (that could not be found here anymore). Most of the petroglyphs are very old (few thousands years), but there are some recent: black “bronzed” boulders seem to be very convenient for the rock art of any type. 
16.00 – 17.00 Drive from Kyzylauz gorge to the northern bank of Ili river
17.00 – 18.00 Accommodation in tents (tent camping) at Ili riverbank
18.00 – 19.00 Dinner
Overnight in tents.

    Day 2

Next day we leave the Bes Shatyr area of Altyn Emel Park, and move further by the road to enter the Park from the northern gate to visit the Singing Dune and Aktau:
08.00 – 09.00 Breakfast
09.00 – 12.00 Drive from Bes Shatyr to Bas’shi village, via Shengeldy and Saryozek. National Park arrangements in Bas’shi
12.00 – 13.00 Drive from Bas’shi to the Singing Dune, with a short stop near Oshaktas place.
Singing Dune is located in the valley of Ili River, about 2 kilometers from the river in its right bank, between small mountain ranges – the Greater and Lesser Kalkans. It looks like huge sand dune with overall height of 150m and length about 3 kilometers. The ridge of the unique sand dune is sharp as a blade. The sand crumbles underneath your feet, but the ridge does not get blunt. Two smaller sand dunes continue this one. The whole complex has an area of about 10 square kilometers. Other similar sand dunes in Kazakhstan can be found only in Mangistau region (eg.Sam sands), but the main difference of Semirechye dune (other name of Singing Dune) that in windy weather it is capable of making sound resembling low hum of jet aircraft.
13.00 – 13.30 Lunch near the Dune
13.00 – 15.00 Excursion around the Dune
15.00 – 17.30 Drive from Singing Dune to Aktau mountains. Accommodation in tents at a foot of the hills.
18.00 – 19.00 Dinner
Overnight in tents (tent camping) in Aktau mountains.

    Day 3

Early morning wake up to catch the fantastic sunrise in Aktau.
07.00 – 08.00 Breakfast
08.00 – 11.00 Hiking by the cliffs of Aktau hills
11.00 – 11.30 Drive from Aktau to Katutau volcanic mountains.
11.30 – 12.30 Excursions by Katitau formations.
The Katutau Mountains are just as attractive and unique as shrine. Time, water and the sun have created intricate rock rarities here. As you pass wild and uninhabited gorges, you can see a mother bear bending over a bear-cub, or a huge upturned boat of Robinson Crusoe, with the dead Aktau Mountains nearby. The word Katutau translates as "harsh mountains" from Kazak. This is a very old badly eroded mountain exits of volcanic rocks. Volcanic rock is very brittle and easily shatters by physical impact. Water, time and wind carved in the rock bizarre shape. 
12.30 – 13.00 Lunch in Katutau.
13.00 – 19.00 Drive back to Alnaty via Bas’shi and Kapchagai

Singing Dune Altyn Emel
Aktau mountains camping Altyn Emel
Altyn Emel rock carving Bes Shatyr


   1 person (individual service)


   2 persons in group

   $560,00 per person

   3 - 4 persons in group

   $435,00 per person

   5+ persons in group

   $390,00 per person

The price includes:

 - transport according to the program: Almaty - Bes Shatyr - Singing Dune -Aktau - Almaty
 - National park entry fees and permissions, both sides
 - Tent camping in Altyn Emel (includes living tents, tables/chairs, kitchen gear and tableware, gas), 2 nights
 - Foodstuff (full board) – 3 meals a day (on a way we serve lunch-boxes or eat in local cafe)
 - English-speaking guide for the tour

Price does not include: 

 - soft and alcohol drinks, snacks 
 - rent of personal clothes, shoes 
 - telephone calls, souvenirs, personal expenses