Butakovskiy Waterfall: the most picturesque hike in Almaty

Nazerke Makhanova | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Butakovskiy Waterfall, or in short Butakovka, is a favorite place to enjoy the view and cool photos of both locals and guests of Almaty. Some locals love to visit the waterfall so much that they go there at least once a month. Due to the beauty and accessibility of the Butakovskiy Waterfall, people go to the mountains to experience the most picturesque hike in Almaty!

Butakovskiy gorge

Butakovskiy Gorge is located in the mountains of the Zailiyskyi Alatau in the city of Almaty. The gorge is surrounded by picturesque nature, among which are spruce, barberry, mountain ash and even apple orchards. The most attractive part of the gorge is Butakovskiy Waterfall - Upper and Lower. Basically, people are attracted by the appearance and power of the Lower Waterfall, which is also called Bolshoi. Locals simply call this place Butakovka. The name originates from the word Butak, which translates from the Kazakh language as 'a branch'. The famous Lower Waterfall is 30 meters high, while the Upper Waterfall is 20 meters high. Also, the Lower Waterfall is closer to reach and more powerful-looking

© Andrey Ivashenko


Nowadays, Butakovka is a loved place among locals, and history shows it was also popular a long time ago. When Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union, there was a tourist recreation center "Prometheus" in the Butakovskiy Gorge, then the place was used as a training camp for athletes. In the 1970s, this place housed the pioneer camp of the Kazakhfilm studio and the writers' rest house. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this place became private property. However, any person who visits the place can enjoy the nature of the Butakovskiy Gorge.

© iStock / Petrichuk

How to reach

Butakovka is one of the most popular waterfalls located close to the city of Almaty. At the intersection of Kaldayakova - Zhibek Zholy streets, a bus goes from 6:40 am every half an hour until 9 pm. It would be best if you took this bus to the final stop. Then, you will need to walk almost 2 km up the path to the forester's house. If you are not sure you reached it, please do not hesitate to ask people there. Certainly, there will be bigger chances to meet people if you go there on weekends. Once you see the house, you will see a bridge over the river, and behind it are the stairs. Go upstairs until you see the riverbed, and moving up this channel will lead you to the waterfall. A one-way trip generally takes 2-3 hours. Do not forget to enjoy the view while you walk all the way to the waterfall!

© instagram / karmen__si

What to bring

On the way to the waterfall, there will be a lot of picnic areas where you can stop and have a snack while enjoying the beauty of the Zailiyskyi Alatau. Any hike in the mountains, even the easiest one, requires preparation. There is a belief that the mountains are the masters here, which means do not forget to greet them and take care of those beauties that the mountains show you. In the wintertime, it is recommended to bring along warm trekking shoes with hard soles, a pair of warm socks and, of course, extra clothes. You can take any food that you like, and you are advised to bring 2 liters of water per person. In the summertime,  please do not forget the sunscreen, the hat and some bathing suites too! 

Butakovka in winter and summer

In summer, visitors enjoy the greenery view around, a sunny and warm atmosphere, whilst in winter everything around you will be covered with snow. Be sure to follow the mountains' safety rules, as this is a waterfall, and the stones can be wet with water in summer and covered with ice in winter. In summer, beautiful photos of the seething water are obtained, in which you can swim and cool off. But in winter, the waterfall freezes and turns into a huge block of ice, which is no less mesmerizing and attracts tourists in search of photo tours.

© iStock / Petrichuk

During the summer hiking trip to Butakovka, you may even meet some horses. At that moment, please have a look around if an owner is offering a service like a horseback riding for a quite fair price. Bear in mind that Kazakhstan, at last, is the land of nomads and horseback riding is an authentic way to feel the spirit of locals here. Try not to miss out this unique entertainment while heading to your destination and take some photos in the most picturesque hike to the Butakovskiy Waterfall in Almaty!

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