The Whole of Altyn-Emel: Three-Day Complete Tour

All three main routes in Altyn-Emel in 3 days! We offer you a complete sightseeing tour of the national park: the Besshatyr Saka burial mounds, the Aktau cretaceous mountains and the Singing Dune.

You will see the sacred part of Altyn-Emel in a narrow protected valley between the Ili river and the Dzhungarian mountains, and the main part of the national park with "singing dunes" and striped canyons of the Aktau mountains.

Total distance: about 920 km

Duration: 3 days, 2 nights

Excursion routes: Route 1 (Singing Dune), marked in yellow on the map, Route 2 (Besshatyr), marked in green, and Route 3 (Aktau mountains), marked in red

Number of tourists: any

Season: all

Tour Programme

Day 1:

Transfer from Almaty to Checkpoint 1 of the Altyn-Emel National Park - about 150 km (Almaty-Checkpoint 1 road takes about 2 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 Shengeldy, further along the bank of the Kapchagai reservoir.

Transfer 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.

Walking along the gorge with rock paintings, photo shooting.

Stopping at the Kapchagai reservoir - about 3 km from Tanbaly Tas (optional).

Transfer 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.

Visiting the Besshatyr necropolis, photo shooting.

Transfer to the Basshi village - about 200 km. The road passes through 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 Basshi.

Day 3:

Transfer 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.

Climbing the sand dune, photo shooting.

Stopping at Chokan Valikhanov's spring, "Dinosaur Trail".

Visiting the Oshaktas steles.

Return to Almaty.

Places of Interest:

The Besshatyr mounds, the Singing Dune and the Aktau mountains are the largest sights of the Altyn-Emel National Park. The volcanic mountains of Katutau, the 700-year-old willow, as well as historical monuments (petroglyphs of Tanbaly Tas, stone steles of Oshaktas and the spring of Shokan Valikhanov) are optional.


The three-day full tour to the Altyn-Emel National Park is an opportunity to see all its main attractions in the shortest possible time.

Passage through Altyn-Emel is prohibited, its central part (between the Besshatyr necropolis and the Singing Dune) is a protected area, therefore you enter the national park twice, via Checkpoint 1 (to the protected area) and via the Basshi village (to the main territory).

The routes of the Altyn-Emel park are long, and the roads are unpaved, a part of the road to Checkpoint 1 is very hilly, a part of the Saryozek-Basshi road is under reconstruction, so it takes more time to travel than you can expect.

The tour program is variable: you can visit the Singing Dune on the second day, with an overnight stay in Basshi or in Mynbulak.

However, we recommend visiting the Aktau mountains on the second day (in the middle of the tour) as it is a big tourist site that requires a full day for sightseeing and walking through the canyons.

The trip to the Altyn-Emel National Park is long (about 8 hours only on the road from Almaty to the village of Basshi and back, apart from the visit of the protected area and transfer through the park), so it is recommended to leave Almaty on the first day and go to the Aktau mountains on the second day early in the morning.

The tour takes 3 full days on the go, so visiting the Katutau mountains and the 700-year-old willow, located off the main road, is not always possible, since the main objects (the Singing Dune and the Aktau Mountains) usually take quite a lot of time.


If you want to stay overnight at the foot of the Aktau mountains and see these multi-coloured mountains at sunset and sunrise, then it is better to choose a camping tour.

Learn more:

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


Prices are valid for 2023.

The cost of a 3-day tour to Altyn-Emel is shown for a 4-seater and a 7-seater car (for the total number of tourists and for 1 tourist).

The price includes:

  • Transfer from Almaty to Checkpoint 1, to the Basshi village and back
  • Transfer within the park
  • Driver's service
  • Park fees
  • Accommodation at the guest house of the Caravansarai campsite in Basshi

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.

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