Manshuk Mametova is a moraine lake at 3450m above sea level, formed by an eponymous glacier and embraced by silent snow-capped ridges. Surprisingly, it’s not too difficult to walk there and back in a day, starting from the city center of Almaty. You can organize it yourself, no permits are needed. If you are not confident in a mountain environment or would like some company on the hike, you can join a group tour.
The hiking trail is only completely snow free in July and August.
The hike – DIY instructions
From Dostyk avenue, take the number 12 bus to Medeu, and from there, make your way to Shymbulak. A perfect asphalt road runs to the right of the Shymbulak ski resort into the mountains. Follow it, and after 3 km, you approach the Vorota Tuyuk-Su hotel, and the Alplager on the other side of the river. You can overnight at either if you prefer to hike early and late in the day like me, for better light and less heat.
The road has now become a rocky dirt track and follows the Malaya Almatinka river. 2 giant walls of granite in front of you form the gates of Tuyuk-Su, beloved by climbers. From the hotel it’s another 2 hours until you encounter a dam and the meteorological station of Mynzhylki. The end of the valley is in sight now, all around mountains stand guard in a semi-circle, and you can see the glacial sources of the rushing river water below.
Right after the dam, stop following the main road and take a left instead along a walking trail, starting next to a piece of disused Soviet machinery. This is the killer bit if you are not trained. 45 minutes into this steep climb and a couple of fat marmots later, you will reach Alpingrad at 3450m, a sparse dale and a camp spot for acclimatized climbers.
Cross the clearing. On your right you will find the lake, tranquil and slow, but mute only to the untrained ear. Tell Manshuk your secrets, she’s a heroine. Receptive of your thoughts and worries, she only reflects the sky.
Time needed DIY:
- City center to Shymbulak: 90 minutes
- Shymbulak to Tuyuk Su hotel: 45 minutes
- Tuyuk Su hotel to Mynzhilki: 2 hours
- Mynzhylki to Lake Manshuk Mametova: 1 hour
- Total 2-way: 9,5 hours.
If you take a tour, it’s quicker, as the car takes you directly up to the Tuyuk-Su hotel and back down to the city center. Be sure to take a map and check other hikes and connections in the Tuyuk-Su area.