Just over 200 kilometers from Almaty.
The fact of finding ourselves in Kazakhstan was as random as the landscapes we found there. For a full month, if we had not specified to anybody, our next destination, everybody would have thought we made a world tour.
Here we are, in the middle of a canyon, with the snowy mountains on the horizon.
The canyon is 80km long, part of the Sharyn National Park, not far from China, on the spurs of the Tian Shan Mountains. We only saw a small area, the most famous part of the canyon – the Valley of Castle.
Sharyn Canyon National Park
This is where you turn.
This is where you turn too.
Arriving from Altyn Emel National Park, we made a useless detour. Without Maps.me at that time, we end up on the wrong side of the canyon. You have to turn left, to leave the road and find yourself on a dirt track until you reach the entry gate where you have to pay an entry fee (2 people and 1 car cost 1550 KZT). If you want to drive all the way down, you will have to add 2000 KZT ($6).
WDTYT : The guard at the counter seems to have a problem with numbers and might forget to give change.
I might have packed a little too much …
30 minutes walk for you to reach the Sharyn River below the Valley of Castles. A part of the canyon 3 kilometers long and 100 meters depth. Its name comes from the various shapes, that the red sandstone has gained over millions of year. Along the upper rim, where you will probably park your vehicle, you will have a great overview of the canyon.
If you don’t feel like walking, there is a shuttle that can take you from the parking to the Eco Park, but it would be a shame not to enjoy the landscape, by going all the way down on foot.
We arrived in the afternoon, and trust me, the temperature does quickly rises (but during th winter months, the canyon is covered with a fine layer of snow). But there was a problem of which we had not thought. Mosquitoes. As the day unfold, the shadow falls, and the fight begin.
A small area on the bank of the river, is at the disposal of the campers. We did arrive a little late, fortunately after looking around for a while it remained an almost flat spot on a sandbank, where we pitched the tent.
Followed by a breakfast with a view.
When going back up, take some time to explore, climb, admire.
I might say after all, we did a great job of repainting the Jeep. If anyone needs to change the color of its car, please let us know.
In a nutshell:
How to go :
– As a day trip, you will need to rent a taxi for the day. From Almaty, it should cost you around 100 €.
– You can also rent a car in Almaty and go on your own. The road to the canyon is good, and only the last 15 kilometers are sandy track . The journey should take 3.5 hours.
– The cheapest option will as always be the public transport. In Almaty from the bus “Sayakhat” station, take the bus heading to Kegen or Narynkol at 7 AM. But you will need to walk the last 10 Kms to the canyon. Try hitchhiking, depending on the time of the year, the traffic is busy (bus ticket are under $4).
– The tourist bus will be one of your cheaper/faster option. Almost every travel agency in Almaty offers weekend tours from Almaty to Charyn Canyon.
– You will need to pay an extra 2000 KZT, to drive all the way down to the river, with your vehicle.