Aktau, Katutau Mountains, and 700-Year-Old Willow: Two-Day Tour

The Aktau cretaceous mountains are a unique geological formation aged 400 million years, which annually attracts to Altyn-Emel thousands of tourists from all over the world.

Katutau, the highest desert mountains of Altyn-Emel, are famous for their bizarre sculptures, frozen eruptions of an ancient extinct volcano.

Kosbastau is a green oasis in the Altyn-Emel desert with warm springs and long-lived trees.

We offer you a 2-day tour along the most fantastic route of the Altyn-Emel National Park. You will see 700-year-old willows, relic groves of "dancing" turanga (Asiatic poplar) and enjoy the alien beauty of the colorful Aktau mountains and Katutau lava mountains.

Total distance: about 680 km

Duration: 2 days, 1 night

Excursion route: Route 3 (Aktau mountains), marked red on the map

Number of tourists: any

Season: all

Tour Programme

Day 1:

Transfer from Almaty to Basshi village - about 250 km (Almaty-Basshi road takes about 4 hours, excluding stops). The road passes through the city of Kapchagai (now Konaev), the Ili river in its widest place, where it flows from the Kapchagai reservoir, the village of Saryozek, the picturesque passes of Arkharly and Altyn-Emel.

Accommodation in the guest house of the Caravansarai campsite.

Day 2:

Transfer to the Aktau mountains - about 70 km from the Basshi village. The road passes through the steppe, via the villages of Nurym and Aktobe, and the Zhagalbaily post.

Walking along the canyons of the Aktau mountains, photo shooting.

Transfer to the Katutau mountains - about 25 km from the Aktau mountains.

Walking around the lava gorge of Katutau, photo shooting.

Transfer to the 700-year-old willow in the Kosbastau oasis with a warm radon source - about 20 km from the Katutau mountains.

Walking, photo shooting.

Return to Almaty.

Places of Interest:

The Aktau mountains are the major tourist attraction of the Altyn-Emel National Park. The tour also includes the Katutau volcanic mountains and the 700-year-old willow.


The tour program is variable. If you plan to visit the Aktau mountains on the first day, then you need to leave Almaty on this day early in the morning. Or you can leave Almaty during the day to arrive in the village of Basshi in the evening, spend the night, visit the Aktau mountains in the morning and return to Almaty in the evening.

The routes of the Altyn-Emel park are long, and the roads are unpaved, a part of the Saryozek-Basshi road is under reconstruction, so it takes more time to travel than you can expect. The trip to the Aktau mountains in the national park "Altyn-Emel" is long (about 8 hours only on the road from Almaty to the village of Basshi and back, apart from the transfer through the park).

A one-day trip to the Aktau mountains is almost impossible, since this route is the farthest and most difficult in the national park.


If you want to spend the night at the foot of the Aktau mountains to see the colorful mountains at sunset and sunrise, then it is better to choose a camping tour in a motorhome.

Singing Dune and Aktau Mountains: Three-Day Camping Tour >>>


Prices are valid for 2023.

The cost of a 2-day tour to the Aktau mountains is shown for a 4-seater and a 7-seater car (for the total number of tourists and for 1 tourist).

The price includes:

Meals are not included in the tour. You can order national meals in Basshi. Also, at the Caravansarai campsite, you can cook any meal at any time (the campsite is equipped with kitchens with all the equipment, there is a summer kitchen, outdoor grill). To do this, you need to bring food and drinks with you. There is a small shop on the campsite where you can buy basic foodstuff but it is better to buy food in Almaty.

In the city of Kapchagai (now Konaev) there is a cafe of national and European cuisine on the way.

Helpful Information

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Arba Travel

Your Guide to Altyn-Emel National Park

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