Alamaty has 1.7 million inhabitants and is therefore the biggest city in Kazakhstan. It was the capital of the country until it lost the status to Astana in 1997. The city is located at the feet of the Tien Chan mountain range which is giving the city an incredible panorama. Modern skyscrapers are in front of massive snow covered mountains. But to see this you have to stand up early. In the afternoon you can’t see the mountains because of the smog. The reason is the construction boom in the city. Once there were areas where it was not allowed to build houses because these areas are there for air circulation. But money rules the world and now nice little buildings were built in this region and the daily smog cloud becomes a real big problem. Almaty has many parks and different types of trees are along the green roads. It was difficult to feel like being in Kazakhstan in this city which has a real European flair! The highlight is the journey with the cable car to the Köktöbe – the green hill. From here we had an incredible view towards the city and its surrounding mountains. There weren’t any clouds on the sky and the setting sun was entering the wide Kazakh steppe…
The Charyn Canyon
The river Charyn comes from the Tien Chan mountain range and left on the way to the Kazakh steppe a 154 KM long and a up to 350 meter deep canyon in the red sand stone landscape. Locals like to call this canyon also “grand canyon”. Here I was once again very happy to have a jeep. We could go to the most beautiful places of this national park and thanks to low gear we could go down a very steep road until the bottom of the canyon. At this place we’ve found a very beautiful camp side next to the river Charyn. I was installing the hammock next to our camp that we could swing over the water. It was like in a dream. Especially at the weekends this area is very famous for picnic lovers. We arrived at a Sunday so many families have already left. But one family was still there and when I was looking for fire wood they started talking to me and were very amazed by the trip I was doing. It was not easy to communicate. Many people in Kazakhstan can’t speak English. But somehow we managed it. They gave me a big plate of meat, bread and a bag of sweets as their leftovers. Instead of wood I returned to Lydia with already prepared food. What hospitality!
Live in a hammock
When the weather is sunny it can get very hot in the Canyon. We started for a hike through the canyon at 8 in the morning and two hours later it was already more than 30 degrees. In the early morning we could spot some inhabitants of the canyon. Some rats were renovating their houses after a long winter and weren’t bothered of us at all. We walked on slippery sand stone towards view points with magnificent views on the canyon landscape.