2-Day Self-Drive Trip to Singing Dune and Aktau Mountains


The Singing Dune and the Aktau mountains are the most remarkable natural phenomena in Altyn-Emel, places of pilgrimage for thousands of tourists from all over the world.

In 2 days you can visit the most popular locations of the Altyn-Emel National Park, the singing sands of Aigaikum and the colorful mountains of Aktau.


Tourist Route 1 (Singing Dune), marked in yellow on the map, and Route 3 (Aktau mountains), marked in red.

Basshi village → 6 km → Shygan post → 30 km – Mynbulak post → 10.5 km → Singing Dune → 2 km → Chokan Valikhanov's spring → 7 km → Oshaktas steles → 37.5 km → Basshi village → 28 km → Kosbastau post → 10 km → Zhagalbaily post → 34 km → Aktau mountains → 25 km → Katutau mountains → 47 km → Basshi village.


Distance from Almaty to the beginning of the route: about 250 km one way.

Distance inside the park: total about 250 km along two routes (including the Katutau mountains).

Duration of the trip: 2 days (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. In the Basshi village, there is good mobile communication and 4G Internet from Beeline and Tele2.

Route 1 (Singing Dune) is open to visitors only in the daytime, during daylight hours.

Route 3 (Aktau mountains) - you can stop for the night in your tents at the foot of the Aktau mountains.

Passage through the park to the Besshatyr mounds is prohibited.


The road from Almaty to the Basshi village takes about 3 hours (250 km). The main part of the road is a toll highway.

Before Saryozek you need to turn right towards the Zharkent road and drive to the Altyn-Emel mountain pass, then to the turn towards the village of Basshi. There is the central office of the national park, where you can buy a pass.

The road along Routes 1 and 3 is unpaved, causing strong vibration. It is recommended to have a strong and reliable SUV or crossover. The road is dusty.

The section of the road to the Katutau mountains is the worst.

Car Rental

Click the link below to check out the service for booking economical and reliable cars for travel around the region.

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Rent a car >>>

Gas Stations

There are several gas stations in the town of Saryozek.

Near the village of Basshi, there is one gas station, which sometimes does not have fuel, and prices are too high there. There is also a gas station on the road towards the village of Kogaly.

Recommended Program

Day 1:

Departure from Almaty at 8-9 am.

Arrive in Basshi around 12 noon in order to have time to buy passes at the national park office before lunch break.

Trip to the Singing Dune (4-5 hours).

Overnight in the village of Basshi.

Day 2:

Departure to the Aktau mountains at 8 am.

Trip to the Aktau and Katutau mountains (5-7 hours).

Return to Almaty.

Places to See

Day 1:

On the way:

You will pass through the city of Kapchagai (now Konaev), the Ili river in its widest place, where it flows into the Kapchagai reservoir, the town of Saryozek, the picturesque passes of Arkharly and Altyn-Emel.

In the park:

The road to the Singing Dune - about 50 km from the village of Basshi. The road passes through the steppe, surrounded by the Dzhungarian mountains, the mountains of Katutau and Kalkans, via the Shygan and Mynbulak posts.

You can stop on the way at Chokan Valikhanov's spring, the Oshaktas steles, "dinosaurs' trail" (infoboards).

The Singing Dune “sings” only in dry weather, when dry sand moves from the wind or under your feet. From the top of the dune there is a view of the mountains on all sides and the Ili river. The climb is not difficult.

Day 2:

The road to the Aktau mountains - 72 km from the Basshi village. The road passes through the steppe, via the villages of Nurym and Aktobe, and the Zhagalbaily post in the steppe.

In the Aktau mountains there is a main tourist trail. It is a long canyon. You can also climb to accessible places.

The road to the Katutau mountains - about 25 km from the Aktau mountains.

A visit to the lava mountains of Katutau will not take much time.

On the way to the Aktau mountains or back, you can stop by the 700-year-old willow in the Kosbastau oasis with a warm radon source.

The most commonly seen animals are gazelles and camels. At the Shygan post, you can ask for permission to see the Przewalski’s horses.

Places of Interest:

The Singing Dune and the Aktau cretaceous mountains are the main places that tourists usually want to see in the Altyn-Emel National Park. Visiting the Katutau volcanic mountains and the 700-year-old willow, which are off the main route, is optional.

Singing DuneSinging Dune
Aktau MountainsAktau Mountains
Katutau MountainsKatutau Mountains
700-Year-Old Willow700-Year-Old Willow
Oshaktas StelesOshaktas Steles
Chokan Valikhanov's SpringChokan Valikhanov's Spring

Lodging & Dining

Overnight stays and camping near the Singing Dune are prohibited. The nearest camping site is the Mynbulak post, 10 km from the dune.

In the Aktau mountains you can spend the night and camp in your tents (you must notify the national park officials about this when purchasing a pass).

There are no water sources in this place.

You can stop for the night in the village of Basshi.

There is no cafe in Basshi; tourists usually take food with them from the city. Or they have food at the hotel where they stay overnight.

Hotels and Campsites >>>

Helpful Information

Things To Take >>>
Outfit >>>
Security Measures >>>
Environmental Awareness >>>

1-Day Self-Guided Tour to the Besshatyr Mounds >>>

1-Day Self-Guided Tour to the Singing Dune >>>

Follow the link to view the schedule of bus tours from Basshi to the Singing Dune and the Aktau Mountains (dates, times, prices and availability):

Basshi Bus Tours Schedule >>>

Please feel free to contact us:

Phone: +77089711687

Contact by WhatsApp >>>

Arba Travel

Your Guide to Altyn-Emel National Park

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Arba Travel Contact Info:

Phone: +77089711687

Contact us by WhatsApp >>>

Chat with us on Telegram >>>

Find us on Google Maps >>>

Join us on Instagram >>>

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