The land of stone castles - Charyn Canyon

Nazerke Makhanova | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Kazakhstan **is not only the land of steppes, forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers. Apart from that, this land has the Caspian Sea and sandy dunes. Would you believe me if I said that we also have our very own type of Grand Canyon? The canyon that Kazakhstan is proud of is no less picturesque and magnificent than any other famous canyons in the world. It is the land of stone castles, called** Charyn Canyon, and can be found near Almaty!

Charyn Canyon

It is a popular place for shooting local love stories, movies, and other interesting promotional ads - it definitely is on top of the list of all travel agencies of Kazakhstan. Little to say that if you ask anyone what to see when visiting Almaty, rest assured that everyone will tell you to witness the beauty and the unforgettable views of the Charyn Canyon. It is located just 200 km away from Almaty, and its length is about 154 km. The height of the canyon rises up to 300 m. Almost 12 million years ago, this place was fully covered by the Ili lake, but since it has dried, we can now see the Charyn River, which carved the limestone rocks. Ultimately, the Charyn river is responsible for the Canyon's creation. The best time to visit the Charyn Canyon is in spring and the first months of summer because later on, it usually gets too hot to walk around. Also, the beginning of autumn is an excellent time to visit the Canyon and admire its ginger colors. 

© / Helen Liu

How to reach Charyn Canyon

If you do not have a car of your own, then the easiest way is to contact some local tourism agency. They have the whole journey scheduled and prepared for you. A vehicle will pick you up and drop you off at the heart of the canyon along with a professional guide, who will take you to the best spots of the Charyn Canyon. Prepare to spend all day there, as from the very beginning till you come back to town, it will probably take you more or less from 12 to 15 hours. It is actually worth having this trip with a professional agent who will tailor everything for you and guarantee a unique experience.

© flickr / Jane Pack

There is another way, of course, to get there, let's say for the humble hearted people. Are you ready to take this challenge? Here comes a piece of advice. While in Almaty, go to the ‘Sairan’ bus station, and from there, take a bus that goes towards Narynkol or Kegen. There is no scheduled bus stop at the Charyn Canyon, so you may kindly ask the driver to drop you off at the closest spot to the Canyon. From there, you will have another challenging moment- you'll need to walk approximately 10 km to the Canyon. 

© / Ruslan Alekso

Tips and equipment- what not to forget

It seems like the wind is the Canyon's best friend, as it follows you everywhere. Make sure that you got yourself a sun protection lotion or a spray to prevent your skin from getting sunburnt or dried. Additionally, you are advised to wear comfortable clothes and, most importantly, sneakers! Here is a hint for those who would like to have photos with a beautiful outfit. Bring your fancy outfit in your backpack, change into it to get some pictures, and then put on your sports clothes again to comfortably continue walking and climbing.  

© / Sergey Sukhov

Camping at the Charyn Canyon

Tourism agencies will offer you two types of trips; a day trip or a trip with a sleepover at the Canyon. If you choose to stay there for a night, you will never regret it. The night at the Charyn Canyon is fantastic! At night it can get quite cold, so do not forget to bring some firewood to make a bonfire. Make sure you have all the necessary things for that because in the Canyons, you will not be able to find even a wooden stick- but if you do, you are still not allowed to use them. The place is under protection, and hunting is not permitted. Moreover, it is a National Park, so please be careful and respect nature

© / Tomas Laburda

If you have some musical instruments like a guitar, it is just fantastic! It will definitely brighten up the night around the bonfire and bring you an unforgettable joy. Additional to that, camping can help you make new friends, especially locals, who are very friendly and hospitable. This is a 'must-have set of skills' of every average Kazakh. No joking, this is a fact that even wikipedia can tell you about! Having local friends will definitely add more fun and comfort to your journey! 

The Charyn Canyon is a great place where you can have fun, enjoy nature’s uniqueness and its ginger castles! Apart from experiencing the bottom part, and the peaks of the Canyons, the view from different angles is just magnificent. Another joy is to read your favorite book near the Charyn riverside. The Charyn Canyon has several zones with bungalows or yurts (Kazakh nomad houses), and there you can enjoy the peaceful and harmonious nature of Charyn Canyon. It is all there! You now have everything you need to be a professional tourist; collect pictures and memories of the best place in the world, the Charyn Canyon nearby the Almaty city

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