Guide-book: Tamgaly Tas, Ili river

Tamgaly Tas

Tamgaly tas is a name of a tract located at a right bank of Ili river, 120km to the north from Almaty (it is a steppe). It is sometimes confused with another one called “Tamgaly” (or Tanbaly) located 170km to the northwest from the city in Zhambyl region and famous for its ancient petroglyphs, so it looks reasonable to add “Ili river” when consider Tamgaly Tas. Being a beautiful natural spot, Tamgaly Tas is popular among Almaty citizens as a week-end camping site. High rock walls facing Ili River attract rock climbers since 1970s, so the cliffs now look more than comfortable in terms of sport and free climbing. Besides climbing, the place provides great opportunities for rafting, fishing, biking and hiking. Marathon and rally festivals take place in Tamgaly every spring.



  • 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°...+12°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 turning point at Bakanas road. Further ground trails in steppe are also good, suitable for any kind of vehicle, but it is important to find a rolled way.

Trails: looks more ground trails

National Parks: no NP around (as it was in 2018)

Petrol Stations: the last one in Kapchagai town

Shops and cafesthere are no shops and cafes around

Water: no sources with drinking water. Water in Ili River is not drinkable

Cellular coverage: there is no cellular connection in Tamgaly Tas and along Ili river. It can be (unstable) in some high points and on the top of the hills.


Guest houses

• no guest houses in this area


• there are many good places at a riverbank. It is desert countryside, so luck of trees and shadow. No any permission is required for tent camping, but you may be asked to pay "cleaning fee" to the company, which took a part of Tamgaly Tas area in long term lease, in 2018.



Drive from Almaty to Kapchagai and further to north (cross the bridge after Kapchagai). Turn left on a fork, in a direction of Bakanas (north-west). Move 19km by Bakanas road and then turn left in steppe (at a sign “Range of MES”). Follow the ground road for the next 15 km: turn left as soon as you come down to the Ili valley. Reference point: big gates in Chinese style and high rock massif.



  • ancient Buddhist monastery, now ruined, with huge images of Buddha on the rocks (over 300 years)
  • high rocky massif full of climbing routes
  • petroglyphs and rock carvings of stone and bronze ages
  • blooming steppe in red and yellow colours in April (blooming of tulips and poppies)

Summer activity options:

  • rock climbing (range of different routes, all anchored)
  • biking
  • rafting by Ili river (calm water)
  • running and hiking
  • camping



In the beginning of March, when the snow starts melting, the ground trails/roads may become impassable

Activity option:

2-3 days of camping at Ili riverbank
2 or 3 days of camping at Ili riverbank in Tamgaly Tas area looks like a good option for those enjoying steppe biking and rock climbing. There are a variety of climbing and biking routes around. The best period is end of March – April – mid May and September – October: the temperature is comfortable in these periods. Other months are too hot or cold (it can be up to +50 in August or -20 in January).
How to get there from Almaty: follow the Kapchagai highway from Almaty in north direction. Pass the Kapchagai town through and cross the bridge over Ili River. In few kilometres after the bridge you’ll see a fork “Taldy-Kurgan – Bakanas”, where you’ll need to turn left in a direction of Bakanas village. Move by the Bakanas road for the next 19km until the sign “Range of MES” appears. Turn left in steppe on the sign and drive in a direction of Ili River by the ground road (to the west). When the road comes down to Ili valley, you’ll see a small hill which marks a fork. Turn left and follow the Ili stream up for the next 5km until you see the Chinese gates and rocks. The ground road distance is 15km in total, try to use the rolled roads (frequently used).

Download the map in original size (7Mb) 

Tamgaly Tas Ili river

 Download the map in original size (2Mb)

Tamgaly Tas Ili river