Tour of the Koksu River

Koksu River

This program is designed for casual and adventure travelers, who would like to experience one of the most beautiful rivers of the Semirechie - Koksu. The program includes a visit to and an excursion to view petroglyphs, the earliest of which is dated to 16th-4th c. B. C., and ancient colonies, and graves of the Saac, Bronze and Turkic periods. The largest primitive art gallery of the Jungar is the Petroglyphs in the Eskiolmes Mountains.

Season: June-September
Equipment: sport shoes and clothing
Length: 2 day

Day 1: Morning drive from Almaty to the Koksu River, 270 km, 5 hours. Lunch. Excursion to the gorge to view the Petroglyphs. Dinner. Overnight in tents.

The Eskiolmes range is a western spur of the Jungar Alatau. It extends approximately 30 km and is located in the Taldykorgan Region of Almaty Oblast, 30 km to the south of Taldykorgan city. The northern slopes of the range smoothly spread out into a wide plain. The southern side abruptly descends to one of the many rivers of the Semirechie - the Koksu. Here the Koksu River breaks free from its narrow gorge and broadly pours out into numerous branches. The height of the range is 1,300 meters above sea level.

On a small terrace between the Eskiolmes range and the right bank of the Koksu River are a large number of archeological monuments dating from the Bronze Age to medieval times. This proves that the location has been settled since ancient times. There are hills with Petroglyphs above this terrace. The Petroglyphs are concentrated in six canyons and on the hills that lie between them. The majority of them are located alongside the river 6.5 km above the dam and opposite Talapty.

There are figures of people, animals, and symbols on these images. The main part consists of images of animals: camels, horses, goats, deer, wild boar, bulls, dogs, and predators. In no other sanctuary of the Semirechie can one find as many chariots harnessed with horses as here. There are many scenes including the previously unknown subject of an attack of a "giant" by three archers, and scenes of single combat, hunting, and sacrifice are widespread. The images of sun-headed idols on chariots and in hunting scenes are interesting and original for the petroglyphic art of the Semirechie.

The most ancient paintings of the sanctuary belong to the Bronze Age and Saak time. Judging from the discoloration of the many touched up or even revised images, it can be determined that they are from the ancient Turkic period.

Nomadic subjects dominate the Petroglyphs of Saak and Ancient Turkic times. These scenes include predators killing herbivores, cattle drives, single combat between warriors for livestock, and social scenes.

Many of the images are not easily seen as they are located in spots that are difficult to reach and in unexpected places: The ancient local artists possessed an originality of methods of drawing on the cliffs, as well as an undeniable artistic distinctiveness. Miniature images not exceeding 1-2 cm are distinguished by their peculiar elegance. The Petroglyphs of Eshkiolmes distinctly show the traditions of petroglyphic art of the whole Jungar region of the Semirechie.

Day 2: Excursion to an ancient colony and gravesite. Excursion to another gorge with Petroglyphs. Return to base camp. Lunch. Drive to Almaty.


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