Charyn Canyon

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.

Sign at the turn-off to Charyn Canyon
Sign at the turn-off to Charyn Canyon

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.

The track in the valley of the canyon
The track in the valley of the canyon
In the upper part of the canyon
In the upper part 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!

It's a bit of a tight squeeze
It’s a bit of a tight squeeze
But we made it through
But we made it through
Another view along the valley track
Another view along the valley track
One of those looks like it's ready to topple!
One of those looks like it’s ready to topple!

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.

Charyn River at the end of the valley track
Charyn River at the end of the valley track
Charyn River in the canyon
Charyn River in the canyon
View from the tourist camp at the bottom of the valley
View from the tourist camp at the bottom of the valley

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!

My ENO hammock strung between a couple of trees on the bank of the Charyn River
My ENO hammock strung between a couple of trees on the bank of the Charyn River
Enjoying a cold can of Kozel beer in my hammock by the Charyn River
Enjoying a cold can of Kozel beer in my hammock by the Charyn River
Great spot for reading a book or laying back in a hammock
Great spot for reading a book or laying back in a hammock

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.

Evening camp-fire on the river bank
Evening camp-fire on the river bank

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.

Klaus with Heidi and Robi and their Land Cruiser
Klaus with Heidi and Robi and their Land Cruiser
Driving back out of the canyon
Driving back out of the canyon

After exiting the valley of the canyon, we took arrive along the upper rim, to get an overview of the canyon.

The Charyn Canyon from above
The Charyn Canyon from above
Another view from the rim of the canyon
Another view from the rim of the canyon
The patch of trees in the centre of the pic is where we camped
The patch of trees in the centre of the pic is where we camped

 

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