1-Day Self-Drive Trip to Besshatyr and Tanbaly Tas


The royal mounds of Besshatyr, scattered in the valley between the Dzhungarian mountains and the Ili river, are the sacred heritage of the era of the powerful nomadic tribe named Saka (I millennium BC).

This is an isolated part of the Altyn-Emel National Park with a very ancient history. You can climb the largest Saka pyramid and look at the ancient rock paintings of Tanbaly Tas.


Tourist Route 2 (Besshatyr), marked in green on the map.

Checkpoint 1 → 17 km → Tanbaly Tas petroglyphs → 9 km → Zhantogai post → 9 km → Besshatyr burial mounds → 35 km → Checkpoint 1.


Distance from Almaty to the beginning of the route: about 150 km one way.

Distance inside the park: about 35 km one way.

Duration of the trip: 1 day (only during daylight hours).


A pass is issued remotely through a phone call to the national park, payment is to be made via Kaspi Bank mobile application. Also, you can buy a pass in the national park office in the Basshi village.

Online Cashier (permit issue):

+77079390039, +77778019670

There is almost no mobile phone service and Internet in the park.

Route 2 (Tanbaly Tas Petroglyphs and Besshatyr mounds) is open to visitors only in the daytime, during daylight hours.

Passage through the park to the Singing Dune is prohibited.


The road from Almaty to Checkpoint 1 of the Altyn-Emel National Park takes about 2 hours (150 km). The main part of the road is a toll highway. After turning to the village of Shengeldy there is a bad, broken road.

The road along Route 2 is unpaved, hilly and rocky in places; it is recommended to have a strong and reliable SUV. The road is dusty.

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Places to See

On the way:

You will pass through the city of Kapchagai (now Konaev), the Ili river in its widest place, where it flows from the Kapchagai reservoir, and along the bank of Kapchagai.

After the village of Shengeldy, you need to turn right towards the Kapchagai reservoir and drive along it towards the Dzhungarian mountains to Checkpoint 1 (ranger's post).

In the park:

The road to the petroglyphs of Tanbaly Tas in the Terekty gorge of the Sholak mountains - about 17 km from Checkpoint 1. The road passes through a picturesque valley between the Dzhungarian mountains and the Kapchagai reservoir.

Petroglyphs should be looked for on rocks covered with patina.

The road to the Besshatyr Saka mounds at the foot of the Degeres mountains - about 15 km along the delta of the Ili river, via the Zhantogai post.

The interior of the main, largest mound may be closed.

The most commonly seen animal is the goitered gazelle.

Places of Interest:

The main historical monuments of Altyn-Emel are the Saka mounds of Besshatyr and the petroglyphs of Tanbaly Tas. The road goes along the Kapchagai reservoir and the Ili river.

Tanbaly Tas PetroglyphsTanbaly Tas Petroglyphs
Besshatyr MoundsBesshatyr Mounds
Kapchagai and IliKapchagai and Ili

Lodging & Dining

Overnight stay, camping on the banks of Kapchagai and fishing are prohibited.

You can stop for the night and have a snack on the way back in the town of Konaev. Hotels and cafes are easy to find on Google and Yandex.

Helpful Information

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Arba Travel

Your Guide to Altyn-Emel National Park

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Arba Travel Contact Info:

Phone: +77089711687

Contact us by WhatsApp >>>

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