Charyn Canyon, also known as “the Grand Canyon of Kazakhstan,” is a wonderful sight to be found in Central Asia. Created by the Sharyn River, it lies around 200 km east of Almaty and close to the Chinese border. The impressive canyon was eroded over 12 million years; it is over 9- km long and is full of colourful formations
The entire region of Charyn Canyon is spread out and comprises of Valley of Castles, Temirlik Canyon, Bestamak Canyon, Red Canyon and Yellow Canyon. While the ‘Valley of Castles’ is the most accessible canyon, you can travel far in a car or jeep to discover the rest of them as a true explorer.
Best Time To Visit Charyn Canyon
Charyn Canyon can be visited any time of the year. However, if you will go during the peak summer season which is between May to September, probably you will get roasted because it gets that hot in this area.
The best is to go during the month of September and October, or late winters as the weather stays fairly pleasant. Also, if you are planning to camp here, ensure that you have picked up the right season because during the night winters can get bitter and during the summertime heat can be very harsh.
Also Read: Is Travelling To Central Asia Safe?
How To Reach
There are several ways to reach Charyn Canyon. Depending on the ease of travel and budget you have, you can choose the modes of transport. Know that public transportation outside its main city – Almaty is next to none. Below I am providing several modes you can opt for as per your convenience.
Rent a Car
This is the most comfortable and easiest way to reach Charyn Canyon. This won’t only enable you to explore the Valley of Castles but you also will be able to go to the other canyons easily, because transportation to the rest of them is next to them. Further, they all are very remote and you will at times find yourself the only one to be driving around. Having your own vehicle will provide some flexibility, but the downside is that if you are travelling solo, then renting a car will be a big hole in the pocket.
This is probably the most used mode of transport in Kazakhstan. Hitchhiking is not only practices by travellers but also the locals themselves. So if you are worried about asking for a lift, do not worry. It is a very known concept amongst the locals. If you are travelling on a budget, the best way is to take a shared taxi halfway and then hitchhike to Charyn Canyon. All you have to do is be patient and wait for a ride to come.
You can also travel to Charyn Canyon by a shared taxi, however, shared taxis will take you to only one point of Charyn Canyon which is the Valley of Flowers entry point. Although, from here on you can hitchhike.
Shared taxis can be taken from Sayahat Bus station of Almaty. Try to find a shared taxi that goes till Kegen and explain to him that you need to be dropped till Valley of Castles. Ideally, drivers charge 2,000 to 3,000 tenge per ride in a shared taxi. Request them to drop you off till the entry point, but in most cases, the drivers will drop you at the intersection point of Kegen and Charyn Canyon which is Charyn Povorot. From Charyn Povorot, Charyn Canyon is about 10 km that can be easily reached by either taking a taxi or hitchhiking.
Another easy way to reach Charyn Canyon is by opting a group tour. There are many tour operators that take tours to the canyons. All you have to do if search it online and find a tour that can fit your dates. Although you lose the flexibility of travel, if you want comfort and ease to explore the canyons, this is the best way to do so.
Accommodation in Charyn Canyon
The best way to explore Charyn canyon is by setting up your own camps. You would have to pay a nominal fee of 350 tenges to camp, but it is truly worth it to enjoy the camping melodies of Charyn river, while you sleep right next to it in your own tent. Furthermore, there is an eco-park as well where you can stay. It offers three meals and a stay in yurts for a price of 25,000 tenges.
Charyn Canyon is a must-visit place if you are exploring Kazakhstan. It is not only picturesque but a very unique nature’s creation to be found in some parts of Central Asia. The travel might be hard, but it is really worth it.