This half-day tour to Big Almaty Lake is a must for anyone visiting Almaty. Take an easy ride to the Lake or extend your tour with a short trek to Big Almaty Peak for some amazing views!
The Big Almaty Lake, or as it is shortly named BAO (O stands for “Ozero” – lake in Russian) is the nearest mountain tourist site, which is a sightseeing place of the southern capital. It is only 28 kilometers away from the city centre: the majority of people prefers to take a car ride, though some might want to hike straight up from the city’s water pipe.
Anyway, the way is through the gorge Almarasan, which is a popular place for Almaty residents and guests of the city. You can see various companies of people barbecuing and socializing. Dulati Street, which passes along bottom of the gorge also abounds in various kinds of cafes a traveler can spend time on a hot afternoon.
Any gorge, which is a danger to the city has a system of fortifications. The Almarasan gorge has several dams, plantations of trees and giant concrete blocks. All of this can be seen on the way to the lake.
Along the road one can see some streams, the river and natural springs. After passing the main horizontal part of the gorge, the tarmac road leads to the left and as a serpentine winds along the foothills. Prior to 2008 only jeeps could take the road to BAO, now in warm months any car can get there subject to no problems with the cooling system.
BAO is small in size, but deep sometimes reaching 40 meters down. The water is cold since The Big Almaty river falls into it from the south, which is its main donor. The lake appeared as a result of seismic activity, the volume of water varies during the year, primarily due to the intensity of the melting of mountain glaciers.
In winter the water level falls and the lake is partially frozen. It is noteworthy that on a sunny winter day one can sunbathe and walk around in a swimsuit there.
The serpentine road continues to go through the observatory to space station above the lake. Both facilities are operating, there is some research going on and one can look at the night sky through a telescope. On the way to the space station there is a checkpoint, which can be passed having identification documents.
Above the lake there are three main peaks: the peak of Soviets (4 317 m) is in the south-east, Ozerny peak (4 110 m) is to the south and The Tourist peak (3 954 m) is to the south-west of the lake.
To go to the Research Science station, one needs warm clothes, even in summer as you can often have snow at that time of the year and the wind gusts remind of the unpredictability of the mountain weather.
Above the space station there is a ridge of the Big Almaty Peak (3 681 m). It does not take serious efforts from most tourists. In addition to the lake trip our company offers an additional option to climb the Big Almaty Peak. In this case, a visit to the lake is really informative for a visitor and is finished with the conquest of one of the tops of Zailisky Alatau.
- Big Almaty Lake tour complexity: minimum, suitable for people of any age.
Precautions: in the summer you need hats, sunglasses, running shoes, hiking boots. Sunglasses
with polarizing coating are required to visit the lake during the winter.
Average travel time: 2 hours by car both ways. Excursion, picnic, photo session is 2 hours in total.
- Hike to Big Almaty Peak takes another 4 hours. Compexity: recommended for people with a standard physical training (no less!). You should bring identity documents, trekking poles, warm clothing, visor.
Price Big Almaty Lake Only:
- 25 USD p/p in a group of 3 (20$ without English-speaking guide)
- 35 USD p/p in a group of 2 (30$ w/o English)
- 65 USD for an individual tour (55$ w/o English)
Price Hike to Big Almaty Peak (additional on top of BAO tour):
- 30 USD p/p in a group of 3 (25$ without English-speaking guide)
- 40 USD p/p in a group of 2 (35$ w/o English)
- 90 USD for an individual tour (70$ w/o English)
- English-speaking guide-driver
- sightseeing tour according to the program
- ecological fees in accordance with the program
- mineral water 1L p/p daily
Price does not include:
- alcohol drinks, snacks
- rent of personal clothes, shoes
- telephone calls, personal expenses