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Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty, 050010, Shevchenko street, house 14, apartment 2,
Tel.: +7 727 2 93 83 80,
E-mail: ecocentre.kz@gmail.com
Regions of Kazakhstan

Southern Kazakhstan

General information

Southern Kazakhstan includes Almaty, Zhambyl, Southern-Kazakhstani and Kyzylorda regions. The region takes large area, practically the whole southern part of the country. Major rivers are: Syrdarya, Chu, Ili, Karatal, Aksu, Lepsy. The biggest lakes are: Aral Sea, Balkhash, Alakol, Sasykkol.

Climate of Southern Kazakhstan is mild and very comfortable for leisure, treatment, climbing, skiing and hunting.

Almaty region

The uniqueness of Almaty region is that on its territory tourists can visit all landscape and climatic zones that can be met on Earth: from sand deserts and steppes to eternal ices and highest mountain peaks. Charyn canyon and Relic Ashen Grove, petroglyphs on the Coast of Ili River and in Tamgaly tract, Big Almaty and Kolsay Lakes, and also mountains of Zailiskii Alatau, Dzhungariya and Tien-Shan are places of particular interest and attention of tourists.


Aksu-Zhabagly is the oldest reserve in Kazakhstan and also the first one in Central Asia, which received a status of Bioshphere reserve of UNESCO. It is located in the spurs of Western Tien-Shan on the altitude of 1,000-4,280 meters above sea level.

Aksu-Zhabagaly is the richest treasury of rare, disappearing and endemic animal and plant species. Argali, mountain goats, Siberian stag, and roe, lynx and snow leopard, wolves and foxes, bears and porcupines, stone martens and ermine can be found here.

Ancient rock paintings, representing domestic animals, scenes of hunting and life of ancient people have survived here on mountain slopes. In shale deposits on paleontological sites there are imprints of plants, fishes, insects and lizards, ancient inhabitants of the planet.


Altyn-Emel, the largest reserve of Kazakhstan, is located on western slurps of Dzhungarskyi Alatau ridge. There are few historical monuments located on the territory of the park: Scythian (Sak) Bes-Shatyr burial mounds dating from the first millennium BC; and Tamgaly-Tas with ancient rock paintings, the earliest of which are dating back to 16-14 cc. BC.

Bes-Shatyr mounds

Bes-Shatyr (Five Tents) necropolis was the place of worship of Saks lived that on the present territory of Kazakhstan in first millennium BC. There are 18 royal burial mounds 9 meters in diameter and 2,5 meters in height, located here, on the territory of 2 square kilometers. This unique memorial of early nomads is located in Semirechye (Seven Rivers), in the upper reaches of Ili River. To the west of royal mounds, there is a chain of 4-5 stones with pictures of animals cut out on their surface; they extend from north to south. Scientists consider this place a ritual part of necropolis.

Petroglyphs of Tamgaly-Tas

170 kilometers away from Almaty, there is Tamgaly-Tas tract (“stones, marked with signs”); there is a unique sanctuary with rock paintings, which represents a real ancient art gallery.

More than 4,000 paintings, which belong to the Bronze Age of early nomads and Turkic period, are found here: pictures of worship deities with sun-like heads, wild and domestic animals, scenes of hunting, rituals, sacrifice, figures of women and many other images. There are burial grounds of the Bronze Age and early nomads, and also traces of their settlements. Gallery of petroglyphs of Tamgaly is a treasure of global significance and it is under the protection of UNESCO fund.

Singing Dune

Another wonder of nature is located on the right coast of Ili River. Singing dune is famous with the fact, that in dry weather sands make sounds, which reminds a melody of an Organ musical instrument. Vibration is caused by friction and movement of air and dry grains.

It is an interesting fact, that dune, despite the fragility of the sand and strong winds, is not moving along the plains, but stay on one place for several thousands of years.

Aktau Mountains

Aktau Mountains (White Mountains) is a museum of remote past of the Earth. 15 million years ago there has been a giant lake-sea, but now there are layers of sedimentary rocks of bizarre forms and colors: red, yellow, blue and white. Big conical mountains remind The Egyptian pyramids. From time to time fossils of dinosaurs and ancient mammals are found here.

Turgen gorge

90 kilometers away from Almaty there is a wonderful place of nature rich with Hot Springs, pine and mixed forests, alpine and subalpine meadows, medicinal plants and berries.

Turgen gorge is famous with its waterfalls; there are about seven of them. Bear Waterfall among overhanging cliffs and green firs attracts with its height of 30 meters. Bozgul waterfall is famous with its powerful stream of water, which has paved his way through the rock.

The most popular place in the gorge is the Botan-yegrskaya station. Here, on the merge of three rivers, Turgen gorge reaches its maximum depth of 920 meters. There is a trout farm in Turgen gorge, where you can catch a fish and cook a tsar trout by yourself.

Issyk kurgan

Issyk burial ground is considered to be one of the biggest archaeological monuments of Skythian-Saki period. The monument is dated IV century BC.

Remains of a young man, which was found during excavations, show that he belonged to saka-tigrahaudskyi rulers, perhaps to the ruling dynasty of The Great Kushans. He has been given a name of the “Golden Man”, as his robe in which he has been buried was fully decorated with 4 thousand of golden symbols, executed in famous “animal style”, and in belt with weapons of pure gold.

Issyk Lake

There is one of the most beautiful lakes of Zailiyskyi Alatau hidden just 60 kilometers away from Almaty city, near the small town Issyk, at an altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level. In the year 1963 powerful mudslide escaped from the ice zone in the upper reaches of Issyk River. Giant waves destroyed natural dam and as a result in just few hours the lake has been washed out. At present time it is partially restored, and its beautiful landscape of surrounding mountains is still pleasing to the eye of tourists.

Charyn Canyon

Charyn canyon, which beauty is being compared with Grand Canyon in Colorado, is located 200 kilometers to the east from Almaty city.

The height of steep slopes, columns and arches reaches 150-300 meters. The canyon stretches for 154 kilometers from north-east to south-west, along Charyn River, which is perfect for rafting.

Ili River

Ili is the biggest river in Semirechye. It forms Kapchagai, an artificial lake in Almaty region and flows into Balkhash Lake.

Kapchagai is considered to be a sea: it is the favorite place for leisure among townspeople during summer time. Its maximum width is 22 kilometers, depth is 45 meters. There are sanatoriums, resorts and beaches along the coast of the lake; Aqua Park is built in Kapchagai city.

Few kilometers away from the lake, on the Coast of Ili River, there is a place which gets us back to the ancient times. On the right coast there are images of Buddha and bodhisattvas, watching into the sky for many centuries. On the black, mysterious rocks there are a lot of petroglyphs, images of deities, late Buddhist writings survived here, which meaning is still to be found; there are about 1,000 different rock paintings overall, which historians attribute to late middle ages.

Big Almaty Lake

This mountain lake is located in the gorge of the same name, at an altitude of 2,511 meters above sea level, 28,5 kilometers away to the south of Almaty city.

Located in the cavity, it is like a shining mirror, surrounded with mountains. Three mountain peaks rises above the lake: Soviet’s peak (4,317 meters), Ozernyi peak (4,110 meters) and Tourist peak (3,954 meters); you can see them from southern end of the dam. To the west of Tourist peak there is a crest of Big Almaty peak (a pyramid of 3,681 meters high), which can be well seen from the city. The lake, which is fed with glaciers water is in the shape of a bowl 1,6 kilometers long almost 1 kilometer wide and 40 meters deep.

Kolsai lakes

They are called the pearl of northern Tien-Shan. Three mountain lakes with steep slopes, covered with pine trees, are located in the spurs of Kungei-Alatau Mountains.

There is a rainbow trout, fish of kings, in the crystal clear blue water of the lake. It is a wonderful place for hiking, journeys on the horseback and mountain bicycles.

The first lake is 1 kilometer long, and is located at an altitude of 1,818 meters; there is a road to the lake; there are also comfortable guest houses and campings. Middle Kolsai Lake (altitude 2,252 meters) is the biggest and most beautiful lake; it is located 5 kilometers higher from the first lake.

Upper Kolsai is located 4 kilometers further and 600 meters higher. 6 kilometers further there is a Sary-Bulak pass (altitude 3,278 meters) with beautiful views of blue Lake of Issyk-Kul. The overall trip (25 kilometers) will take one day on the horseback, and 3 days by foot.

Kaindy Lake

Kaindy (“Birch” from Kazakh) is the lake located among the magnificent pine forest at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level.

The lake is about 400 meters long and reaches a depth of almost 30 meters. From the rocky ridge there are wonderful views of Kaindy and Saty gorges, Valley of Chilik River. Dry trunks of flooded fir-trees rise above the water surface as masts of wrecked fleet.


The highest point in Kazakhstan, peak of Khan-Tengri is very difficult to reach; its height is 7,010 meters above sea level that is why it is extremely interesting for climbers, as well as for enthusiasts of adventure tourism. Northern part of the mountain belongs to Kazakhstan. Climbing to the “Northern Wall of Khan-Tengri” is a dream of many climbers.


The city of Turkestan (Yassy) was a spiritual and political center of Turkic-speaking nations of a vast region of Desht-i-Kipchak (Kipchak spteppe) and was an ancient capital of Kazakh khans. Today, Turkestan is 1,500 years old.

The main sight of Turkestan is the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, which has been built in XVI century by order of Timur; it is masterpiece of medieval architecture.


People believe that the way to Turkestan should go through Mausoleum of Arystan-Bab, the teacher of Ahmed Yasawi, famous religious mystic, who lived in XII century.


Ancient city of Otrar (IV century VC) was a major trade center.

Its famous library did not yield the wealth of other ancient libraries: Alexandria and Carthage. A world-famous medieval philosopher Al-Farabi was born and has been creating in this city. In the late XIII century Mongolian troops have destroyed this wonderful city to earth.


The mighty fortress of Sauran (X-XVIII cc) was famous with its unique water supply system. Due to availability of water and food the city could have withstood a siege for several months.


Mazar of Domalak-Ana, which was built in an honor of “Great Babishar Mother, daughter of Aksultan”, clairvoyant, endowed with the gift of prediction, is located not far away from the city of Turkestan on the hill in steppe. According to legends, three Kazakh Zhuz (clans), are descendants of her grandchildren. A magnificent memorial complex of white marble was built here in 1998. Two stones, which used to be on the grave, are now considered to be sacred. It is said that only righteous man can pass between them.


City of Taraz (Talas) is more than 2,000 years old. From ancient times this city has been known as the “city of Merchants”. Peak of development of the city was in X-XX cc, when it was the capital of the state of Karakhanids. Karakhana and Davudbek mausoleums, castles of the rulers and many ancient burial grounds will let traveler to mentally visit distant centuries. Not far away from present Taraz, there are masterpieces of ancient architecture, which survived and were included by UNESCO into the list of global rarities of architecture: mausoleums Babadzhi-Khatun and Aisha-Bibi.

Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum

The mausoleum has been built more than eight centuries ago by one of the rulers of Karakhanid dynasty over the grave of Aisha-Bibi, his beautiful bride. According to the legends, a snake has put an end to woman’s life on the way to her beloved.

The structure is fully faced with ceramic tiles with floral and geometrical patterns. The mausoleum itself looks very light and graceful.

Cities of Southern Kazakhstan

Almaty, Shymkent, Kyzylorda, Taraz