If you are traveling to Almaty, you can enjoy not only beautiful must-see places but also observe the city from the top of its fascinating mountains. The higher you climb, the more you will love it. Almaty is surrounded by the mountains Zailyisky Alatau, that continue to rise. The highest peak of the mountains is the Pik Talgar (named after the river), situated 4,979 m above the sea level. You can get to the mountains from any part of the city by bus or taxi. So, exploring Almaty mountains is really easy.
Better than all the mountains is the Mount, which nobody has mounted yet! (V.Vysotsky’s song “Farewell to Mountains”)
During the World War II, there were some mountain shooters training camps at Zailyisky Alatau. So, many peaks in the vicinity of the camps were named after the wartime heroes: the peak of Panfilov Heroes, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya peak, Manshuk Mametova peak, Partisan peak. But there are also some epic ones as Guard (Karaulshytau in Kazakh), the peak of Christmas (formerly called Atheist), Cold Feathers peak, Severe Pass.
Almaty mountains are perfect for hiking and trekking in the summer and skiing in the winter. Every tourist should take the opportunity to spend a few hours in these amazing places, plus it’s good for health.
Hiking doesn't require special equipment and any physical training. For this reason Almaty mountains is a good place for those who never tried hiking but always wanted to. The vicinity of the city makes hiking available for anyone. So, your route can start anywhere at the foothills, as long as it's not very far from the city. There are always many locals who do hiking as well, therefore it's almost impossible to get lost.
There are also several ski resorts near Almaty, with the tracks for both - beginners and experienced skiers. The ski season in Almaty lasts from the end of November or the beginning of December to the end of March. Shymbulak, Tabagan, and Ak Bulak are the largest and most popular ski resorts, not only in Almaty but in the whole Kazakhstan. Shymbulak is located in the gorge of Trans-Ili Alatau at an altitude of about 2,300 m above the sea level. It became very popular after the 28th World Winter Universiade, that was held there in February of 2017. Tabagan is located not so far from Shymbulak ski resort, near the Ile-Alatau National Natural Park. The total area of this resort is about 55 hectares, and it offers many more activities than just skiing: strike ball, sauna, skate park and other options. Last but not the least - Ak Bulak Ski Resort, located 40 km to the East of Almaty. It's a place where you can recharge and refresh at any time of the year. Wonderful landscapes and pure air will make you want to come back. To reach these ski resorts, it’s better to rent a car.
Another interesting option is a weekend in the mountains. There are some hotels and cottages located near the mountains. Most of them have a SPA, quad bikes and restaurants. Before your trip to the mountains, read the weather forecast carefully because the weather here is completely different from the city. In the first summer days, there is an increased activity of ticks, so it is better to take some repellents.
For those who don’t like to walk much, there’s also a way to enjoy their trip as a BBQ picnic. There are a lot of places for a picnic, such as gazebos, that are built along the road to the mountains, so you won’t have to go far. The only drawback is that some people leave tons of trash after their picnics.
You can never get tired of mountains because there’s always something new to discover and explore. Therefore, if you ever come to Almaty, don’t hesitate to dedicate one day only for exploring Almaty mountains.
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