Issyk Lake and Turgen Waterfall Day Tour
Issyk Lake, Turgen Gorge (Turgen Waterfalls), Golden Man at Issyk Kurgan
Just 75 kilometers east of Almaty lies the dazzling Issyk Lake of the Alatau Mountains, formed thousands of years ago by a huge avalanche and tragically altered in 1963 by a massive mudslide. The lake, which has since been reconstructed, is known for the variety of endangered plants that thrive near its banks and for seemingly changing colors based on the cloud coverage and time of day. The area is enhanced by nearby Turgen Waterfalls, whose cascades flow through cloisters of pine trees and shady mountain crags.
The area reached historical significance in 1969 with the unearthing of a tomb near the Issyk River that contained the Golden Man, believed to be a Scythian nomad buried with his golden armor. His discovery has been hailed as one of the most important burial findings of the 20th century and continues to provide clues to the identity of Kazakhstan’s earliest inhabitants.
The Issyk Lake and Turgen Waterfall Day Tour is a full-day excursion to the beautiful and silent world of Kazakhstan’s timeless mountains. Bask in the calming atmosphere of Issyk Lake’s deep blue waters, admiring the rustic ‘Kremlin Wall’ cliffs and unusual flora, before continuing with a picnic lunch and short hike among the waterfalls of enchanting Turgen Gorge. The tour also includes a special stop at Issyk Kurgan to see where the monumental discovery of the Golden Man first occurred.
Meet your guide and driver in the lobby of your Almaty hotel to begin the daylong outing. Depart Almaty for Issyk Lake, along a route that twists through the picturesque mountains of Issyk Canyon (75km, 1.5hrs). As you travel, your guide will share fascinating information about the region, including details of the 1963 Issyk Lake disaster that forever changed the course of the lake and the area’s inhabitants.
Stop along the way at Issyk Kurgan to marvel at the tomb of the Golden Man (6th-3rd centuries BC), which has become the main symbol of Kazakhstan’s rich and mysterious nomadic history.
Upon arrival to Issyk Lake (1750m above sea level), you’ll have some free time to walk around and relax on its peaceful shores. Admire the steep red-faced cliffs encircling the lake, which climb to 120 meters in height and have been dubbed the “Kremlin Wall”.
Drive to Turgen Gorge (35km, 45min), where you’ll stop for a picnic lunch. Continue on to Boten, the most popular spot in Turgen Gorge where three rivers converge to form the deepest corner of the canyon. From Boten you’ll take a short hike to Bear Waterfall (Medvezhye Waterfall), which drops 30 meters into the turbulent Turgen River.
Return to meet your driver and head back to Almaty for drop-off at your hotel. End of Issyk Lake and Turgen Waterfall Day Tour.
Tour duration: 9-10 hours
Note: This tour is available from April to October.
- Private guide;
- Entrance fees to the national park;
- Picnic lunch;
- Transportation throughout the tour.
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