Hidden Glacial Lakes

of Turgen Valley Trekking

Duration: 6 days
Season: June – October
Mountain Range: Ile Alatau

About tour:

Turgen Gorge is a unique corner of Almaty region nature, known for its magnificent waterfalls, one of the most impressive is Kairak. In the most inaccessible corners of the gorge wonderful alpine landscapes, moraine lakes, moss thickets and massive glaciers are hidden in its upper reaches. There are almost no visible paths and traces of human presence, only wild fauna around and breathtaking panoramic views.


– enjoying atmosphere of Tien-Shan wilderness

– visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region – Kairak

– exploring the wild and less explored gorge in Ile Alatau

– experiencing tent camping among the picturesque valleys and glaciers

– meditating near the moraine lakes with a view to the white massive peaks

– admiring the landscapes called Kazakhstan Greenland 


1300$ per one person 
  750$ per person for the group of 2
  550$ per person for the group of 3-6
  450$ per person for the group of 7-8
  250$ per person for the group of 9-10


7 people


Ile Alatau


June – October

Highest point:

3760 m.a.s.l.


6 days

Ability level:

intermediate, advanced/expert

Start point:



Almaty – Turgen gorge – Batan settlement – Temirtas river – Mining Institute glacier – Chon-Turgen gorge – Sphagnum lakes – Oi-Karagai plateau – Kairak waterfall – Batan settlement – Bearish waterfall – Almaty.

Day by day Schedule:

Day 1

Almaty – Turgen gorge – Batan settlement – Temirtas stream – upper reaches of Turgen gorge.

Meeting the guide in the lobby of your hotel/hostel, apartments, airport or train station in Almaty at 7 am. Transfer to the Turgen gorge to the Batan village (approx. 90 km). Start of the trekking route. At the beginning, the path will be running along the old road with a smooth climb to the tributary of Kairak River. Over there we will make stop for break and snacks. Then we turn off the road to a path which will dive into the forest and will lead us along the banks of Turgen River, jumping from one bank to another. In some parts it will be possible to cross the river by the old wooden bridges, but somewhere you will have to wade the river. We will set up a camp on the picturesque glade in the forest near the stream. Rest, dinner and overnight in tents.

Distance: 12 km.
Elevation gain/loss: +800 meters.
Hiking time: 6-7 hours.
Camp altitude: 2500 meters.

Day 2

Upper reaches of Turgen gorge – moraine of Mining Institute Glacier.

Awakening at 7 am. Breakfast. Packing stuff. At 9 am start moving along the route up the gorge. Almost immediately we will have to cross the river again, first across the bridge, then wade a couple of times. When we leave the forest zone, we will see wide alpine meadows, as well as snow-white peaks visible in the distance. Further, the path will pass through a high-mountainous pasture, where herds of cows and horses graze in summer. Halt by the river for rest and snacks. Then we will continue our ascent up the gorge towards the glacier of the Mining Institute, passing place where the river overflows and forms a picturesque lake. After passing the spill and reaching the beginning of the glacier moraine, we will set up a camp. Rest, dinner and overnight in tents.

Distance: 11 km.
Elevation gain/loss: +950 meters.
Hiking time: 7-8 hours.
Camp altitude: 3450 meters.

Day 3

Moraine of Mining Institute Glacier– moraine lake – Flat pass– Wolfish pass – Chon-Turgen gorge.

Awakening at 7 am. Breakfast. Packing stuff. Radial hike to the moraine lake of the Mining Institute glacier. The ascent will take about an hour and a half. On the way you will be accompanied by the stunning view of Turgen peak with a height of 4407 meters. The lake is quite large, and during active ice melting, large blocks of ice resembling icebergs can be seen on the surface. In the distance in the south, a snowy peak will be clearly visible, this is Tistaran Peak 4367 meters high. Descent along the ascent line. Hiking up to the west, towards the neighboring Chon-Turgen gorge, which can be reached by passing through two passes. Halt on the second pass with a magnificent panorama of the Chon-Turgen plateau with a height of 3600-4000 meters. In clear weather, from the pass you can also see the wide top of Big Issyk peak, 4250 meters high. Local tourists also call this plateau Kazakhstan Greenland because of the stretched and flat tops of the peaks and glaciers and look very different from the usual steep pointed peaks of Ile Alatau mountains. After we will start descent into Chon-Turgen gorge and set up a camp in on a wide glade in a canyon near the stream. Rest, dinner and overnight in tents.

Distance: 13 km.
Elevation gain/loss: +700/-450 meters.
Hiking time: 7-8 hours.
Camp altitude: 3650 meters.
Highest point of the day: Wolfish pass 3750 meters high.

Day 4

Canyon of Chon-Turgen – Moraine lakes – Wolfish pass – Flat passПологий – Turgen gorge – Sphagnum lakes.

Awakening at 7 am. Breakfast. Packing stuff. Radial hike to the nearby glacial lakes, which are also called “Blue Spills” because of the very bright blue color of the water, which changes its color depending on the weather. Return to the camp site and ascent to the Wolfish Pass. On this day, we have to go back down to the gorge of the Turgen River and spend the night near the chain of four Sphagnum lakes. Setting up a camp, rest, walking around the lakes. These lakes got their name because of the swampy sphagnum thickets around, forming soft pillows on the surface. It is very unusual to step on them, they spring back and create a feeling of movement on mellow snow. Such thickets usually appear in permafrost areas. The maximum water temperature in the lakes is 10-12 degrees, so only hardtempered tourists can have a courage to swim in them. In calm weather without wind, in the mirror-like surface of the lakes, a nearby summit is reflected – Three Lakes peak, 4150 meters high. Dinner and overnight in tents.

Distance: 15 km.
Elevation gain/loss: +400/-900 meters.
Hiking time: 7-8 hours.
Camp altitude: 3250 meters.
Highest point of the day: Chon-Turgen moraine lake 3760 meters high.

Day 5

Sphagnum lakes – Turgen gorge – Oi-Karagai plateau.

Awakening at 7 am. Breakfast. Packing stuff. Descent along the ascent route of the second day, wading across the river. Ascent to the right-bank Turgen plateau Oi-Karagai. After reaching the highest pint of plateau, we will have a break for rest and snacks. Further, our path lies to the Temirtas river, which in translation from Kazakh means “Iron Stone”. The river originates from the Glaciologists glacier, located in the upper reaches of the gorge. In clear weather, a beautiful picture of whitening snow peaks opens to the south from this place. Setting up a camp by the river, rest. Dinner and overnight in tents.

Distance: 8 km.
Elevation gain/loss: +200/-550 meters.
Hiking time: 4-5 hours.
Camp altitude: 2850 meters.
Highest point of the day: Sphagnum lakes 3250 meters high.

Day 6

Oi-Karagai plateau – Kairak waterfall – Batan settlement – Bearish waterfall – Almaty.

Awakening at 7 am. Breakfast. Packing stuff. Hiking along the hilly Oi-Karagai plateau, like on roller coaster, up and down. On the way to the valley of Kairak river, the trail will begin to go down and will lead us to a small lake, where we will make a short stop for rest and snacks. After crossing the river, we will continue along the dirt road and go down to the Kairak waterfall, which is 40 meters high. Here you can have a good rest and a photo session. There is an observation deck near the waterfall, and a little higher there are picturesque rocks, to which a path leads and from where the most favorable view of its cascades opens. Further descent along the road to the Batan settlement, from where we started in first day. Transfer to Almaty city. On the way, you can also visit Bearish waterfall, located in Turgen Gorge not far from the road, a twenty-minute hike. Dinner in local cafe on the way to the city. Arrival to your hotel/hostel, city airport or train station at about 8 pm.

Distance: 15 km.
Elevation gain/loss: +70/-1200 meters.
Hiking time: 5-6 hours.

Required clothing and equipment

– Light functional long trekking pants or leggings;
– T-shirt or light shirt with long sleeve;
– Cap or panama hat for sun and heat protection;
– Neck warmer;
– Trekking waterproof boots or similar with a good protector sole and high lacing;
– Membrane or other water and wind resistant light jacket and pants;
– Warm fleece or polartec jacket;
– Light down vest or jacket;
– Extra set of warm thermal layer for spending nights in the tent;
– Extra warm socks;
– Light sandals or rubber slippers for wading the rivers;
– Beanie or warm hat;
– Two pair of gloves;
– Headlamp; 
– Sunglasses;
– Sunscreen with high UVA protection;
– Personal dishes: fork, spoon, mug, bowl, knife;
– Personal hygiene items;
– Water container;
– Thermos for hot tea;
– Trekking poles;
– Personal AID kit (pain and flu medication, adhesive tape, individual medications in case of having chronic diseases);
– Sleeping bag with temperature -5 – 0 degrees Celsius in comfort zone;
– Sleeping pad;
– Tent;
– Hiking backpack with volume 50-70 liters;
– Energy, protein, muesli bars, dry fruits, nuts or other preferred snacks.

Services included in the package:

1. Transfer Almaty – Batan – Almaty by SUV or minibus.
2. Professional English-speaking guide services.
3. All admission and environmental fees.
4. Lunch and dinner in Day 1, three meals in Days 2-5, breakfast and lunch in Day 6.

Services does not included in the package:

1. Food not indicated in the program and/or not included in program price.
2. Personal expenses and other expenses not indicated in the program.
3. Accommodation in Almaty before or after the tour.
4. Visa support and registration in the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, if required.
5. Insurance policy.
6. Rental of camping equipment (available upon request, extra charged).

Please, note:

Depending on weather, health and physical condition of the participants, guide can make adjustments to the program.

The program can be canceled due to unfavorable weather conditions
the real threat to life and health of the participants.

Upon request the services of the porters can be added into the program. The service is paid additionally. One porter can take a load of maximum 15 kg.

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