After some pleasant days in the city of Almaty, we drove east to Charyn Canyon National Park, where we found some beautiful scenery and a tremendous camping spot.
Leaving Almaty, you drive towards the town of Kegen. About 55km fro Kegen, watch out for the blue sign (pictured below). At that sign, take the dirt track for 10km to the park entrance, where you’ll pay an entrance fee. In addition to the per-person admission, an additional 2,000 Tenge (just over $10 US), you can take your vehicle down into the canyon. You’ll need a 4×4 vehicle but it is well worth the price of admission.
There’s a steep initial descent into the valley, for which you’ll need to select low-range, but once down that first hill, it is a gradual descent to the rest of the valley of the canyon.
As you get towards the lower part of the valley of the canyon, there are two boulders laying against each other, leaving a gap through which you have to drive – pretty cool!
At the end of the valley is the Charyn River that runs through the bottom of the canyon. There is also a small tourist camp with a cafe and a bar.
Once we got to the river, we knew we had to find a place to camp. After looking around for a while, we found a flat sandy spot, close to the river, where we pitched the tent. We were set up by early afternoon, so it was a rare opportunity to just kick back and relax for a few hours. We took different approaches to the relaxations – Klaus sat by the river reading a book, whilst I laid back in my hammock and drank a few cold beers (followed by a nap in the hammock). The ENO hammock was a gift from Whitney (my daughter) and this was the first opportunity to use it. Quite impressed with it – very easy to set up, very comfortable and very stable!
After dinner (tenderloin steak and veggies, cooked on the Bush Pig), we sat by the river with a camp-fire and enjoyed a couple of beers. A very enjoyable evening in a remarkable setting.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the tourist camp and then drove back up the track through the valley. On the way, we stopped for a chat with Heidi and Robi from Switzerland in their Toyota Land Cruiser. They have been travelling in the Toyota for two years, so far, and are heading to Russia, Mongolia, China and Laos next (see www.legrigri.ch). They couldn’t drive between the two boulders as their Land Cruiser has a raised roof.
After exiting the valley of the canyon, we took arrive along the upper rim, to get an overview of the canyon.