About 300 km north of Almaty lies a mountainous Winter Wonderland. Dzhungarian virgin powder lies dormant, yearning to be loved, plowed over and shredded by adventurous cross-country skiers, splitboarders, ski tourers and the like.
Point of departure is Tekeli, a run-down village at the gates of the Dzungarian Alatau National Park. As Kazakhstan is slowly opening up, expect to see more services popping up here over the years to come.
For now, here is what is on offer.
Resorts with prepared slopes – Off-piste – catskiing
2 resorts operate near Tekeli: Tekesu and Tau Zhetisu. Both have a decent amount of slopes of varying difficulty, and offer great off-piste skiing as well for those who like the backcountry, but not the hikes. Tekesu also offers catskiing and has a very smart hotel in the middle of the mountains. Contact them for more info.
To get a picture of these places, check the following videos:
- Tekesu slopes
- Catskiing in Tekesu and Tau Zhetisu
- Tv-documentary about skiing in Dzhungarian Alatau. Slope shots are from Tau Zhetisu.
- Tekesu off-piste
To get to Tekeli by public transport, frequent buses leave Almaty’s main bus station to Taldykurgan. From Taldykurgan, you need to take a marshrutka or shared taxi to Tekeli. In Tekeli, you need to haggle with a local driver or get picked up by someone you know.
Ski touring – Backcountry skiing – Cross-country ski
The whole Dzungarian Alatau range offers gigantic potential for all of the above. It is, as of yet, completely unexplored. One area of interest is the Kora Gorge. It holds the largest waterfall in Central Asia and locally considered as “the most beautiful place in the world”. A local skier can guide you there: contact Renat at +7 777 586 65 50. Find some pictures of his in this forum post.