Trip report: Altyn Emel NP and Charyn Canyon self drive

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Trip report: Altyn Emel NP and Charyn Canyon self drive

Post by RArmitage »

November 2023. Currently park office in Almaty is closed so get someone to do the National Park booking online and whatsapp the permit to you as payment is by Kaspi (this was checked at every gate). If not visiting petroglyphs then you can do this at Basshi NP office.

We hired a car through Valdeks and had a Renault Duster. If you want to drive on all three routes and then go onto Charyn Canyon you will need a fuel allowance of at least 1100km (advice 1300km minimum. We were given 900km allowance so had to pay surcharge). There was no 95 fuel at Basshi - we should have filled up at Saryozek as we ended up doing a 200km round trip the next morning to refuel as would not have enough in the hire car (Renault Duster, 40 litre tank) to get into the park.

If visiting the petroglyphs and burial mounds there is an excellent newly built visitor centre by the park entrance with good English spoken. There is a restaurant there as well (in November it was not serving food (we believe but we didn’t ask). Tarmac road to the wind farm. Then good but a bit bumpy gravel road.

I hour from park entrance to the first petroglyphs. All are signposted. We didn’t have time to visit the Terekty petroglyphs as well (perhaps visit them first). Then 1.5 hours to the burial mounds from the first petroglyphs.
Burial mounds are 1.5 hours from park entrance.

To drive to Basshi is then another 1.5 hours.
If you get a puncture then there is a friendly tyre place in Shengeldy (by the shops at the turning to the park - opposite mini market Adal).

The following morning (after fuel detour) we drove route 3 to the Aktau hills and Katutau hills. Then drove to the Singing sand dune. Total mileage for that day from Basshi was approximately 200km. If we had got to the park at 8/9am we would have had plenty of time to fully explore and do some hiking in the hills. It took approximately two hours from Katutau to the Singing dune. The road to the dune is the best.
The following day we drove to Charyn Canyon. On the road approximately 40 minutes from the end you will see a sign for Charyn Canyon and turning off to the left (dirt road). This was good to drive and saved 10 minutes but did not give any view of the canyon.

We went down the main route and then snuck back up the yellow canyon route (classed as difficult) which required some scrambling up narrow challenging ascents near the start.
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