Have you ever tried to imagine how does the place that was the trade connection between European countries with China and India would look like? Many, many years ago, this place served as the main road for the trade caravans of different continents. Now, this peaceful place is home to some people who prefer the rural lifestyle and an inspirational place for tourists who would like to experience the Kazakh spirit while in the Assy plateau. Little more than that, you can even take the coolest photos with a real observatory, which is placed in the plateau. Within almost 3 hours away from Almaty city, this picturesque place is waiting for you. There is a lot to tell about what you might do in this endless green place, but first things first.
Assy Plateau and Observatory, Almaty
Some hints before you go
It is highly recommended to go to the plateau with friends or locals who know the place and how to reach it. Otherwise, you are always welcome at local agencies that can take you there with a professional guide and a prepared route. However, there is another way to go there: there are lots of local guys on Facebook who create small groups and invite other people to join them on particular trips. Give it a try and text them! We have a saying that the hospitality of Kazakhs is as wide and big as its steppes. If any local group is planning to go to the Assy plateau during the dates of your visit to Kazakhstan, then you might be invited.
The plateau is known as the best place for the summer pasture. Therefore, when you visit the place in the summertime, you will see lots of horses and some local people who live there in the summer season, managing these pastures. It seems as this place has come out of the past, since its nature is surprisingly untouched. In rare parts you can admire the hills and go for hiking to see the whole plateau as if it were in your palms. If you are lucky enough, you can meet some locals riding horses - some even riding old-fashioned Soviet motorcycles. Some of them might even give you a free test drive. For those who come here for camping and sleepover, it is recommended to find a place located not far from the river. Professionals definitely know how to find a perfect place for camping and a more extended stay. This is why a local group of hiking enthusiasts would make your stay even more enjoyable!
Do you know where to find some of the oldest telescopes in the world? Well, one of them is located in the old observatory in the Assy plateau. Apart from having a rest and experiencing the spirit of nomads in the plateau, you can take great photos with the old astronomical observatory while there. Its architectural design is quite ancient, and its construction started almost half a century ago! Now, it operates, but the entrance is restricted. If your fantasy is as big as the lands of the plateau, you can find a way to make creative photos with this unusual looking observatory.
The Assy plateau is located about 2-3 hours away from the city, depending always on the road taken. To get there, you will need to drive through asphalt, and later you will need to follow an off-road route. There are no signs indicating that you have reached the plateau. The landmark of the place appears to be the observatory. Once you see it, look around, yes my friend you are in the Assy plateau!
Assy kit - what to bring with you
If you are lacking time but still want to visit the Assy plateau, there is an option of a short one day trip for you. Of course, you most probably will need to leave Almaty city early in the morning at around 7 am and come back by 6-7 pm. In this short stay, the tourist kit would be as following: hat, some snacks for the whole day, 2 liters of water, comfortable shoes, camera, and good energy. For those planning to stay overnight, you would have to make an effort to organize a perfect tourist kit, which would consist of all the above plus the tent, and some warm clothes. Remember, even if the camping is common in the summertime, nights in the plateau can be seriously cold when the temperatures drop below zero. The 'get ready' list can be quite long. However, the locals who are heading there -not for the first time- will definitely suggest what to take with you and make sure you remain safe.
Additional photography tips
Since you have a whole plateau in front of you, the ideas of taking creative photos can be various. This place has some inspirational vibes that will, for sure, inspire you. There is a river where you can swim and take beautiful photos while in the water. Some photos can be made on top of hills; try to look around, and if you see a 'Kyiz ui' (Kazakh traditional housing), you can take a photo beside it. Also, locals are pretty much friendly, so you can have a picture with them too. Some personal hints from me: bring some Kazakh traditional costumes! The ladies can bring with them local pieces of jewelry to make a unique photo while experiencing the Kazakh culture and spirit in the endless looking Assy plateau! Enjoy!
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