Our original plan to travel to Almaty is scrapped as 12-15 hrs in a second class upper bunk of a non air conditioned train just does not seem like much fun.
Besides taking in the local scenery there are three reasons we are in Almaty, to see Lake Almaty, to hike Charyn Canyon NP and finally to get to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Although gently warned about driving in Kazakhstan and the possibility of encountering difficult traffic police we still opt for the adventure of a car rental.
Equipped with small currency notes we set out early in the morning for about a 4 hour drive to Charyn Canyon NP. Carefully monitoring my speed and road signs along the way, we make it to our destination without having to unwilling part with any of our dinero.
Descending a steep set of stairs we begin our hike in what some consider “The Baby Grand Canyon”. The morning sun is already blazing and stops to be awed by mother nature are welcomed.
Our turn around point is at an Eco-Tourism Resort along the banks of a shaded and refreshingly cold river. From here you can take a taxi for your return trip although we decided to walk back and are still amazed by the scenery.
A plate of “Dried Cold Sliced Horse” and I am having a sampling of local cuisine.
After dinner we stroll a few blocks and join a lengthy queue for a 24 hour Almaty favorite. Since this is our second time to enjoy this cool delight we are going to try the competition for a taste test comparison. Earlier we were told that the two vendors use two different formula with one producing a more watery product. I guess I am going to need a third or fourth tasting to really tell the difference.
It's a little later start to Lake Almaty as it is much closer to the city than Charyn Canton.
About 30 minutes outside of the city we pay a small toll to enjoy a landscape with jagged and majesty mountains as we drive a curving road to Lake Almaty. At a split in the road we come to an abrupt stop as the road is closed by local police due to construction. Our delay is only about 25 minutes and the scenery continues to be amazing.
Lake Almaty with it's powder blue waters surrounded by mountains still capped with winter snow and perfectly planted dark green pine trees is as mesmerizing and as beautiful as I imagined.
I'm sure in winter and spring the area take on another form of beauty that is all its own.