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Kazkhstan and Kyrgyzstan

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Author Sjobe
#16 | Posted: 17 Jan 2017 08:25 
Northern Tyan-Shan (2002 T List) - Close to Almaty to its south and centred on Ile.Altau NP. Mountain scenery, lakes etc but flora and fauna sounds to be very similar to W Tien Shan. Could be of interest if had a spare day in Almaty?

Ile-Alatau National Park south of Almaty is a great alternative for a day trip. The easiest way to visit it is to head south-east towards Medeu and Chimbulak which are very popular places among local hikers and tourists. In Medeu is the old speed skating rink which is an interesting part of sports history. Chimbulak is a popular ski resort which actually was a venue for alpine skiing in Almaty's unsuccessful bid for 2022 Winter Olympics.

It is about 30 minutes trip by taxi from Almaty to Medeu. From there on it is very steep mountain road over a mudflow dam heading to Chimbulak. It is also possible to use the cable car. I hiked from Medeu to Chimbulak and a little bit beyond that. The views were absolutely great. Still, the area is very much built for skiing and tourism. From Chimbulak the road continues to the glaciers. Just remember that the roads are very steep and walking is tough job.

If you want to see more untouched nature you must head south towards Big Almaty Lake. Taxis can take you up to 4 kms from the lake.

Author elsslots
#17 | Posted: 17 Jan 2017 09:51 | Edited by: elsslots 
Turkic sanctuary of Merke. (1998 T List). The sanctuaries are 37kms S of the town of Merke (near the Kyrkgyz border on the road from Taraz to Bishkek). It seems relatively easy, if time consuming, to reach some of them. See

Maybe I can have a go at this one? My itinerary brings me on the same road from Taraz to Bishkek. I only wonder how "remote" the sanctuaries are (3,000 m altitude? or near the well-visited sanatorium?)

Here it seems to be covered in half an afternoon: %B0-%D0%B2%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%BC-%D1%88%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2%D 0%BE%D0%BC-%D0%BF%D1%83%D1%82%D0%B8/?lang=en

Though it is described as pretty remote here (along a road north of Merke) source=bl&ots=AvEIu9OY4i&sig=XJr2oFAwr2gkdxsIvkZJFo5393E&hl=nl&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-jpaj ucnRAhUB2BoKHeYlA5gQ6AEITTAG#v=onepage&q=merke%20sanatorium&f=false

Author Solivagant
#18 | Posted: 17 Jan 2017 10:53 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Though it is described as pretty remote here (along a road north of Merke)

If I can make correct sense of the Dutch the page is referring to a Sanitorium at Oytal - a "suburb" to the NE of Merke.
I think the "real" Merke Sanitorium is in the mountains/valley to the south of the town.
See -
But the hotel's Web site makes absolutely NO mention of any cultural sites nearby!! People obviously only go there for the Sanitorium aspects! (Though it does figure on the itinerary of a number of botanical tours visiting the local flowers)
You will see the anthropomorphic "Bal Bal" stones at Burana tower by the way!

This report (free download if you register) titled "GUIDE TO KAZAKHSTAN - SITES OF FAITH - SITES OF HISTORY" (Actually this is a comprehensive guide in book form of historic sites across K) has a complete section on Merke (6.12) plus sections on very many other historic sites. I quote what it says about the location of the Sanctuary - "Amongst the mountains of the Kyrgyz Alatau, approximately thirty eight kilometers south-southeast of the town of Merke, on an upland traversed by the river of the same name and its tributaries, stands a vast area sacred to the ancient Turks, which over thousands of years has been enriched with numerous commemorative complexes that differ in type and period."
See - nload


Author clyde
#19 | Posted: 24 Jan 2017 14:04 
Very good news for travellers from UK + 42 other countries (mostly EU) travelling to Kazakhstan. No visa will be required (at least for travel in 2017). It has just been officially confirmed.

Moreover, since I have an extra day to spare in Astana, I have contacted a Kazakh company and the local birding association of "rangers" and they have confirmed a spot to visit the Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve as a day trip in flamingo breeding season. Spotting saigas would definitely be a plus point. I specifically mentioned the 3 lakes I want to visit not only Tengiz and that has cost me an extra 50 dollars but I wanted to increase my chances of spotting the saigas while visiting different natural elements of this vast landscape.

Author clyde
#20 | Posted: 14 May 2017 03:16 
I enjoyed reading the first review on Western Tien Shan and was surprised by the amount of snow still present. Like in most other countries, it seems that usual weather patterns have shifted by at least one month. A couple of years ago, May used to be one of the best months to avoid rainfall or overcast weather.

I especially look forward to your review on Saryarka, Solivagant.

Author clyde
#21 | Posted: 14 May 2017 18:03 
Thumbs up for the Hen harrier pic and thanks for the Saryarka review.

I just packed some deet insect repellent and I'll make sure to bring along enough food for the drive as I hate stopping for lunch instead of spending more time spotting wildlife (especially when there will be a 2hr drive afterwards).

Author elsslots
#22 | Posted: 20 May 2017 06:47 
Unfortunately I had to cancel my trip to Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan because of work commitments (I just won the largest deal in my 12 year career as a bidmanager, so it's a happy occasion). But thanks to Solivagant's reviews, I am taken there anyway!

I was most looking forward to the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi . Reading up beforehand (ab evaluation etc) it sounded much more like a religious object than the museumish atmosphere Solivagant describes.

Author clyde
#23 | Posted: 20 May 2017 13:16 
I really enjoyed Solivagant's review too and I will most probably be adding the recommended book to my travel library ;) Looking forward to seeing this splendid WHS myself.

Sorry to hear you had to cancel your K Stans trip but congrats on your achievement at work, Els.

Author barabanov
#24 | Posted: 20 May 2017 15:25 
Also sorry to hear about cancellation, I indeed booked flight to Almaty and was in process of planning in order to come together to Tamgaly. Obviously congrats for the new contract, it's extremely important thing! Wish to get the job perfectly done and waiting for you to come to Moscow!!

Author elsslots
#25 | Posted: 9 Aug 2017 01:00 
Thanks to Solivagant, Jarek and Clyde we have now 3 nice complementary reviews of Western Tien-Shan!
And that for a WHS that was unreviewed until May this year.

Author Jarek Pokr
#26 | Posted: 9 Aug 2017 04:08 
Els, no harm done. I guess that during next years Kazakhstan will develop a little bit their touristic infrastructure (I found it completely unsufficient in many places) and adjust prices towards budget travellers (let's hope as right now they tend to overprice the services offered.

Anyway UNESCO places in Kazakstan are really nice, Khoja Ahmed Yasawi mausoleum is trully spectacular resembling the best examples of Samarkanda / Buchara buildings, Tamgaly - one of the most interesting petroglyph site, Saryarka - a paradise for bird lovers, interesting Silk Road remnants and Tien-Shan reserves.

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