Singing Dune

Where is it

Singing Dune is a huge sand hill with overall height of 150m and length about 3 kilometers, located on a right bank if Ili river, in central part of  Altyn Emel National Park. There are 300km to the Northeast from Almaty (5 hours).
Singing Dune: 43.87553, 78.56061

What to do

- climb a Singing Dune and take a picture of Ili river
- enjoy the "song" of the Sand
- meet the wild Dzheirans in white saxaul forest

How to get there

There are 2 main ways: by A353 highway via Kapshagay to Bash’shi village (292km) where the entrance to the Park is situated. Or by A351 “Kuldzha road” via Shelek town (380km). You need to stop at Bas’shi to get the permission, and then follow the ground road further to the Southwest, in a direction of Ili River. There is no regular bus connection.


It is a desert: the best seasons to visit are March-May and September - October. In Spring and Autumn the normal day temperatures are +23..25C, night +5..+15.
In Summer period it can be really hot (uncomfortable): up to +40C during a day, +10..+20 in the night.

What's interesting

The Dune, that in windy weather is capable of making sound resembling low hum of jet aircraft. Oshaktas - Temujin's (Genghis Khan) Army post. Endemic flora and fauna: White haloxylon (saxaul), dzheiran (Persian gazelle), kulan donkeys


- «Altyn-Emel» guest house in Bas'shi village
- "Shygan" hostel inside a park, on a way to the Singing Dune
- tent camping at a foot of the hill


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. This is one of the main attractions of Altyn Emel Park. 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.
Another attraction in this area is Oshaktas site: few 2meters-high boulders staying vertically on the ground. According to the legend, a Great Mongolian conqueror Temujin (Genghis Khan) settled here with his army in 1219. 

Singing Dune Singing Dune

Some nice endemic plants can be found here on the slopes of the Siging Dune, like shrubs of white saxaul (Haloxylon persicum) or Maltese fungus (Cynomorium songaricum) - kind of holoparasite on the roots of other plants. When no noise, the animals like pygmy jerboa, dzheiran (Persian gazelle/ goitred) and kulan (Turkmen donkey) appear in the sands.

altyn emel wildlife Singing Dune

The voice of the sand dune can be heard only in dry weather, as after the rain it keeps silent. Scientists fail to give a clear explanation of why this sand dunes “sings”. There are a lot of versions saying this phenomenon is caused by friction of moving particles or resonance. There are only four known dunes in the world with such phenomenon. Unlike most of sand dunes, this one does not change its location or form because here, in the hollow between the hills, the wind rose has a special direction.

enlightened Note on Altyn Emel National Parkit was established in 1996 by a decree of the Kazakhstani government to preserve a unique natural complex on the right bank of the Ili River and rare species of animals and plants. The total area of the park is about 520,000 hectares, which makes it the biggest park in Kazakhstan. Its area consists of Western branches of the Dzhungarskiy Alatau, desert mountains of Katutau, Aktau, Ulken and Kishi Kalkany, and a unique natural monument, the “Singing Sand Dune”. The park is a unique combination of various natural landscapes like deserts, mountains and rivers, which results in versatile vegetation and wildlife. Flora and fauna of the Altyn Emel Park is very rich and diverse about 200 species of plants, 78 species of animals, 230 species of birds, 12 reptiles, 4 species of amphibians, more than 30 species of fish, more than 10.000 species of insects and other invertebrates. Some species of plants and animals are endemic, can only be found here, many of them are registered in the IUCN Red List of the Threatened Species

Singing Dune Altyn Emel National Park 9-day adventure trip by Kazakhstan