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Distances and driving times Almaty - Karakol via...

Posted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:36 pm
by Karin
I'm about to plan a short 2-day trip in mid June with 2 friends, hiring a car with driver/guide. I struggle to find approximate driving times and distances in km... Our plan is to start early from Almaty and drive to Charyn Canyon (I have found out that takes about 3- 3,5 hrs) I guess we only will have time to visit the Castle valley and hike down to the river or would we also have time to drive to the Temirlik canyon...? Then in the late afternoon we will drive Kegan and across the border to Kyrgyzstan to Karakol to spend the night there. (It would be cool to stay in a yurt - any suggestions near Karakol?) How long will the drive from Charyn Canyon to Karakol take?
The following day, we will drive down to the Issyk-Köl and find a nice viewing spot with the lake and mountains as back-drop. Any suggestions not too far from Karakol...? Then we will start our drive back to Almaty, but along the way, drive up to Kaindy lake "near" Saty. How long would the drive from Karakol to Saty take. From Saty I understand it takes another hours drive on a rough road and from the parking area it is a 30 mins hike to the Kaindy lake, I have read somewhere, right? We will skip the Kolsay lakes this time, due to lack of time. Kaindy lakes seems to me the most dramatic with the sunken forest and a beautiful lake. How long will the drive then finally take from Kaindy lake back to Almaty?
I'm grateful for any help with this itinerary.

Re: Distances and driving times Almaty - Karakol via...

Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:33 pm
by steven
Hi Karin,

You can do it in one long day. 3h to Charyn, 5h to Karakol. 1h at the border. If you want to visit Temirlik, take an extra day to camp there, otherwise it's too much for one day. You could perhaps pop in at the hot springs in Chundzha.

Nice places near Karakol on Issyk-Kul: north side: Ananyevo and Grigorievka, south side: Tamga, Tosor.

If you return via Kegen you can take a shortcut to Saty via this road:, ... !3e0?hl=en.

Ask your driver if that's a good road, I've never been and don't want to say how long it would take. But it looks interesting.

I think the road should be finished at Saty when you come there: 5h drive to Almaty I would guess.

In summer, Kolsai and Kaindy are very busy in the weekends with day trippers from Almaty, make sure you visit during the week.

Here is a possible scenario (you can customise it). ... ryn-canyon

I can also recommend our tour operators Marat and Azamat for this type of trip.

Re: Distances and driving times Almaty - Karakol via...

Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:15 pm
by mazeno
> If you return via Kegen you can take a shortcut to Saty via this road:
shyrganak-taldy-kensu-toguzbulak - don't even try to think about this road, it's one the worst roads i've ever driven. this ca 40km took me more than 2 hours. and it is not scenic.
i had written about this road before:

Re: Distances and driving times Almaty - Karakol via...

Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:56 pm
by Karin
Hi Steven and Mazeno,

Thanks guys for taken your time to reply to me :)

Mazeno, regarding your bad experience of the road to Saty/Kaindy lake, does anybody know if that road now has been finished and is in a better state ?
And if not, what would the alternative road be and how long would that take?

Steven, can you just clarify some times for me please, I got a bit confused when you mention it could be done in one looong day...? The drive from Almaty - Charyn Canyon takes about 3 hours, then to drive from Charyn Canon - Karakol do you mean it takes 5 hours including spending 1 hour to cross the border? Or do you mean it takes two hours to drive from Charyn Canyon to Karakol plus one hour at the border?

I will check up on the places you mentioned along the Issyk-Kul, thanks for the suggestions.

We will be going during weekdays to avoid the crowds, although the dates we have in mind are June 11 and 12 - that is still during Ramadan, would that have effect on travel/crowds etc??
I'll contact the tour operators for a quote once we have enough information to know if this trip is doable within our time frame.

Re: Distances and driving times Almaty - Karakol via...

Posted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:23 am
by mazeno
to make things clear:
this road is very bad:
this road is good - from the road a-351 to saty get the road p-16 to zalanash, it is new tarmac:
the road partly leads along charyn river canyon. btw: the canyon is not only most people think it is (the valley of castles) - it streches from moynak ges (мойнак горная електростанця) north of kensu for next more than 80km.
from zalanash to saty the road is so-so, some tarmac, some gravel, some under construction (september 2017). from saty to kaindy the road is heavy bumpy and your car needs high ground clearance. from saty to kolsai the road is gravel and the car doesn't need high ground clearance until you choose the estern (orographic right) bank of the river - the western (orographic left) is wide and easy, the eastern is very steep and narrow in the forrest. if you meet a car from opposite, you will have to drive back for several hundred meters.

Re: Distances and driving times Almaty - Karakol via...

Posted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:26 am
by steven

about 5h from Charyn to Karakol including border crossing.

Ramadan is not really observed in Central Asia, it will have no effect on your trip. Only Kurban Bayram is a big feast but then people stay at home.