Charyn Canyon

The geological formation of the canyon consists of various sedimentary rock layers that has been subject to the wind and water erosion through millions of years resulting in rare and colourful formations in the form of sculptures.

Day Charyn Canyon




Kazakhstan, 200 km East from Almaty, Charyn National Park

Visit sights

Charyn Canyon (Valley of Castles), Lunar Canyon panorama, Charyn canyon right bank panoramas.


All year, Recommended (March-June, September-November)

Tour duration

1 Day (07:00 – 20:00), Driving: 8 hours, Hiking: 2.5 hours, Total distance: 510 km.

Service includes

Comfortable offroad car, english-speaking guide, lunch, snacks, water, tickets to national parks.

Service cost

Group of 1- 4 adult ( 120.000 – 150.000 tg ).


Charyn canyon is located about 200 km East of Almaty city in South-East Kazakhstan on the territory of Charyn National Park formed in 2004 (see map below). Canyon lies along the Charyn river for about 154 km. The area of the canyon is narrow and stretched from South-West to North-East. The geological formation of the canyon consists of different sedimentary rock layers. Some of rocks are about 12 millions years old. Rocks were subjected to the wind and water erosion through time resulting in rare and colourful formations in the form of sculptures. Canyon has steep slopes reaching 100-300m in height in some places.

The most famous and visited part of the canyon is called Valley of Castles because of its multiple rock sculptures of different forms and sizes. Its length is only about 3 kilometers with a depth reaching 100 meters. Walk through the valley allows to see various rocks layers and enjoy the art of nature. The valley ends on the left bank of Charyn river – oasis place where you can relax in sunny day under the shadow of ash trees.  

There are multiple adjacent valleys and places to the river which are very attractive but less known and undervalued: Relict ash groove, Lunar canyon, Yellow (Bestamak) canyon, Temirlik canyon and much more. The area is big and it’s impossible to cover everything within 1 day.

Interactive map tips:  Use button on the top-left corner to customise visible layers. Click on any icon on the map to get more information about the place – linked to google maps.


Note: The basic program of daily tour is presented on interactive map above with waypoints and places of interest described. All times are approximate and depends on stop lengths, road conditions etc. The program can be altered depending on guests preferences and should be discussed separately. Driving time takes significant part of tour because of distant location of sight and we recommend to combine this tour/ extend for several days with visit of other sites (Kolsay-Kaindy, Altyn Emel, Canyons of the region, Assy plateau).

Total tour duration – 13 hours (driving: 8 hours, hiking: 2.5 hours)
Total distance by car – 510 km (asphalt road – 470 km, off-road – 40 km)

  1. Almaty: On agreed time (07:00 base time) you will be picked up at your place of stay in the city. It’s preferable to start trip early in the morning to escape from the city traffic and be on the place before the hottest hours (13:00 – 15:00). The road will go to the east through plains and fields at the footsteps of Ili-Alatau mountains.
  2. Baiseit market is a good place to buy local seasonal fruits and vegetables and stretch legs a bit after 1.5-2 hour drive from the city. After the market the landscape becomes more desert with mountain ridge to the south. We will cross the ridge through Kokpek pass and drive though big Siugatin plateau located between two mountain ridges Toraigyr on the south and Boguty on the North. Closer to Toraigyr ridge we will turn from main road and drive 10km until we reach Charyn National Park.
  3. Charyn canyon (Valley of Castles): 11:00, We will leave the car and walk on the bank of the canyon to have a panorama view on “Valley of Castles”. Then we will go to the ladder closer to the beginning of valley.
  4. Valley of Castles hike: Walking down the canyon will take about an hour. We will look at different sedimentary and volcanic rocks related to different historical periods. At the end of way down we will reach Charyn river where we will relax and have some food under the shadows of trees. After some rest we will walk back to the car and start our way to the next location.
  5. Lunar Canyon: 14:00, We will drive through Toraygyr ridge and go side from asphalt road to several places with panorama views on Charyn river and Lunar canyon where we will see different type of landscape – yellow clay dome looking hills. There we will have small hike for half an hour and continue our journey.
  6. Right bank of Charyn: The road will go from steppe into hilly area and after 15 minutes we will reach next breathtaking location with view on Charyn river from height of 300m. After the stop we will continue ride for 20 more minutes and reach Valley of Castles location from the other (right) side of the river. The final observation point is located kilometer further down the river. At 16:00 we will drive back to Almaty and reach the city closer to 20:00.


The service cost are calculated for daily tour with basic program described above. Cost can alter depending on places of visit, guests preferences and length of trip. Cost are stated in national currency – tenge (KZT). Current exchange rates can be looked at national bank webpage.

Number of adult people* Total price for group / price per person, (KZT)
1 person 120.000
2 people 130.000 / 65.000
3 people 140.000 / 47.000
4 people** 150.000 / 37.500
> 4 people*** to be discussed separately

*apart from adult people, kids can comfortable sit on the 3rd row of the car. Boosters are provided. Kid full seat can be installed on the 2nd row and will occupy 1 adult seat place.
** 4 adult – in this case 3 adult people will sit on 2nd row and it can be less comfortable during long trips, mostly depends on people constitution.
*** More than 4 adult people will require taking the second car and cost should be discussed separately for such groups.

The cost of service includes:

The cost of service doesn’t include:

  • Insurance
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Photographer (see optional service)


Weather in the canyon is usually very hot in summer and windy on the top. There are almost no trees and places to hide yourself from the sun except for small oasis near the river at final destination. Recommendations for comfortable and safe journey:

  • Passports – always required for distant trips
  • Hat or cap – to protect yourself from sunstroke in summer
  • Sun glasses –  to keep your eyes safe from bright sunlight
  • Sun protection cream – to protect against skin burn
  • Sport / light hiking shoes – for comfortable hiking in the area
  • Specific medical & drugs – if you have personal specific drugs required
  • Light windproof jacket (optional) – in case windy/rainy weather is expected in the area


If you want to get maximum from the tour and to capture best moments on the photo we highly recommend you professional photographer service. This service will cost 30.000 KZT per day and require 1 adult seat space in the car. After tour you will be provided professionally processed digital copies of photos through the link in the cloud. Photo album can be formed based on the photos from the tour for additional cost.