Canyons around Almaty: Charyn river basin, Bestamak and Temirlik

Charyn canyon

Almaty region is known for an extreme diversity of landscapes, compactly located in a relatively small area. Having started from the centre of the city, you may reach the highland glaciers or the deserts - depending on the heading. Eastern part of the region (Uigur rayon) is famous for its deserted canyons, especially those located in Charyn river basin. Commonly known as “Charyn”, the huge area includes the deep canyon of the Charyn River itself, as well as few lateral gorges named after the tributaries, like Bestamak, Temirlik and Zhabyr. When planning your visit to Charyn (one of the “must visits” places around Almaty – “Valley of Castles”), do not miss a chance to explore the fantastic beauty of other canyons in this region.



  • April: +18°...+28°C daytime; 0°...+10°C in the night
  • July:+28°...+38°C daytime; + 20°...+30°C in the night
  • October: +10°...+20°C daytime; -2°...+8°C in the night
  • January: -10°...-20°C daytime,  -15°...-25°C in the night

Snow cover:

  • April -------
  • July --------
  • October -------
  • January 0.2-0.5 m


Roads: there is a good asphalt road from Almaty to the Aksay village, 225km. Ground trails outside of the main road (in steppe and by the plateau) are good and suitable for any transport, but for descent into the canyons you 4-wheel jeep. It is important to select the road that has been rolled when move by steppe.

Trails: cattle-runner trails

National Parks: Bestamak and Temerlik canyons are located in Charyn NP. There are no stationary posts, but the territory is regularly monitored by the Rangers: you can pay the park’s fee directly to the ranger when meet (700 KZT p/p as it was in 2017).

Petrol stations: the last good one is in Chilik town (135km far from Almaty)

Shops and cafes: there is a small shop in Aksai village. There are cafes along the road in Baiseit village.

Water: water in rivers is dirty (cannot be used for drinking). There are no water sources on a way.

Cellular coverage: good cellular connection along the asphalt roads. Further in steppe and inside canyons there is no connection.


Guest houses

• there is a guest house in Temirlik canyon (marked on a map)
• eco-resort (straw huts) in the depth of Castle Valley in Charyn


• there are good places (glades) for tent camping in small ash-tree groves and at riverbanks. Particularly, inside Bestamak canyon at Charyn riverbank; near the guesthouse in Temirlik. Permission for tent camping is not required.


Drive east from Almaty by the Kuldja road. Having passed Chilik town turn right in a direction of Baiseit village (there is a sign). Move further by the main road, through Kokpek village until the fork “Chunja-Kegen”. Here, at a fork turn right in a direction of Kegen. At the 12th kilometre after you crossed the bridge over Charyn river, you’ll see another fork “Aksai-Kegen”. Here turn left in a direction of Aksai. Having reached Aksai village, you may turn in steppe and follow the ground trail further in a direction of chosen canyon.



Summer activity options:


When heavily raining, it may become a trouble to drive out of the canyon

Caravanning option:

In this part of Charyn valley you might be interested in visiting Yellow canyon (Zhabyr), Bestamak and Temirlik gorges, as well as famous “Valley of Castles” in Charyn canyon. To see most of them you need at least 2-3 days. The route may look like: Almaty – Chilik town – Baiseit village – Kokpek village – Charyn canyon (Valley of castles) - Aksai village – canyons of Temirlik and Bestamak.

Download the map in original size (10Mb) 

Charyn canyon

 Download the map in original size (2Mb)

Charyn canyon