Assy plateau

Where is it

The best place to discover the nomad’s life is to come to Asy (Assy) plateau, which is located 100km to the east from Almaty: it is a huge valley at a height of 2100-2800m above sea level, about 40km long. The easiest way is from Turgen gorge over Asy pass.
Assy pass: 43.24057, 77.87993

What to do

- biking (downhill) by the plateau
- trekking and camping
- visit Nomad’s festival in July
- search for treasures around ancient settlements :)

How to get there

By Kuldja road to the east from Almaty, then turn right to Issyk town. Follow the main road through the center of Issyk, it will finally lead you to Turgen village. Turn right to the gorge just before the village. Follow the road up via The National park entry gates and further by the gorge: it will later turn into a ground trail and finally lead to Asy pass.


The road to Asy is open in summer season only: it starts in May and ends in September. Normal day temperature in July is +12…+16, night +3…+7. It is windy on the plateau, the weather changes quickly.

What's interesting

Nomad’s life: white yurta, flocks of horses and sheep. History: ancient burial mounds, dolmens and rock painting. Wildlife: huge marmots, eagles and vultures, majestic highland flowers and rainbow trout in a river. Highland Assy observatory.


- Trekking Club campsite in Turgen
- tent camping at a plateau


In this section we would like to invite you into the wonderful world of Nomads! We, Kazakh people, are leading the nomad’s life for the thousands of years – we love it and enjoy this way of living, full of majestic rituals and traditions. Despite a fact that most of people now live in cities and villages, some families prefer to follow the tradition of “moving around a great Steppe”, and they are now called semi-nomads. All the winter long those semi-nomadic families live in villages somewhere at a foot of the mountains, but they start travelling up in the mountains as soon as winter turns to spring, with their animals and yurta. They walk by the asphalt roads, dirty tracks, cross the rivers: for some of them the way to dzhailau (summer pasture at a highland plateau) takes up to 3 weeks! They may use old Russian trucks to bring their stuff up, but their horses, caws, sheep and goats can only walk grazed by a shepherd. 

Kazakhstan shepherd Asy plateau

The best way to see an everyday nomadic life is to come to Asy (Assy) plateau – one of the biggest and most popular dzhailau place (summer pasture) in Almaty area. The Asy plateau is just 100km far from Amaty to the east: you may come via Turgen gorge or from Bartogay lake. A good 4-wheel jeep is needed to drive there! The plateau starts just after the Asy pass (2600m) and lasts for the next 40km to the east at the height of 2100-2800m above sea level. 

Kazakh nomad rock painting

A great view appears when you reach the Asy pass: an incredibly huge green valley with pearls of white yurtas and remote flocks of sheep and horses. This is a place with rich and long history: the nomads use this plateau for the hundreds of years. Different cultures and époques are closely interwoven and you can see the Bronze or Stone Age dolmens facing the giant burial mound of Saki (Scythe) era. There are places with amazing rock engravings, sacrificial altars made of stones (used in shaman’s rituals) and burial pyramids still wait to be discovered by archaeologists.

nomads life Kazakhstan wildlife

Once a year in July, the nomads of Almaty region meet at a Nomad's Festival in Asy. The festival, called «Zhailau-toi» (a feast at a pasture) attracts much of people: it is a great show with traditional Kazakh baiga and kok-par battles, local dishes made of horse milk (kumyz) and meat (kazy). The festival lasts 3 days and this is a definitely right place to explore the authentic Kazakh nomadic culture.

Scythe burial mounds Assy observatory

Asy valley is a part of a National reserve, and is also famous for its wildlife: Golden eagles, vultures, falcons, foxes and marmots live here protected. Another attraction of Asy is an Astronomical Observatory - one of the biggest in Kazakhstan, huge dome is seen from any point of the valley. The observatory is located on the Assy-Turgen plateau at a height of 2750 meters above sea level. It was build by Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, and observations began to be performed since 1981. By 1991, two telescope towers and hotel facilities were raised, and a 1-meter telescope was launched. By 1990 it was planned to set up a 1.5-meter AZT-20 reflector telescope. The dome and the building were constructed, but since the beginning of 1990s the construction was suspended due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Currently, the construction is resumed, and the launch of the 1.5-m telescope is expected to occur during 2016-2018.



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