Wonderful 3 day trek

Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake Travel Blog

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A view of the valley from near the top of the water pipe

People i met here who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Hannes (Sweden)

Having spent the morning calming our bureaucratic headaches, we didn't arrive at the GES2 Hydroelectric Station until 13.30. This was the beginning for the trek up to Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake, located in the Zailiysky Alatau Mountain Range. It was a red hot day, with very few clouds in the sky, but this was preferable to any rain.

The first 90 minutes of the journey took us from GES2 to GES1, along a four wheel drive track, that rose steadily upwards for the entire duration. The views were magnificent, with towering mountains, gushing streams and grazing animals.

Julia and I sharing a kiss at Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
At GES1 the fun ended and the serious climbing began, as we had to ascend up some steps beside a water pipe that never seemed to end. It took the three of us nearly 30 minutes to finally reach the top, but the views were well worth the toil.

At the top of the hill, the pipe continued up the mountain, although there was the four wheel drive track to walk along once again. The day was drawing to a close and all of us were feeling shattered and wondering when we would reach our accommodation for the night, when two Kazakh guys in a jeep pulled up and kindly offered us a lift. They seemed genuinely surprised to find people who wanted to come to the country as a tourist and we chatted away for the 15 minute drive. Approaching our destination, we got our first sight of the GAISH station where we would sleep on one side of the road and the stunning Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake on the other side.
Blossoming flowers at the Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
We bade farewell to our new friends, who Julia assured us were somehow connected with the mafia, as the words they were using were supposedly very 'gangsta'.

The GAISH station where we would be staying was left by the Soviets and is also known as the Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory. It houses the second biggest telescope in the former Soviet states, although most of what i saw seemed to be rusting trash that could have come off a sci-fi movie set. Having climbed over 1km in height, we were ready for a lie down in our room, which was in a basic wooden domick. The cost of a bed was 1500 Tenge ($12.50), but there was no shower and just an outside squat toilet. The bed was also pretty shocking and it sagged so badly when you sat on it that it created a hammock effect. I still think it was worth every penny to stay here though, as the views over the Lake were unbeatable.
Crazy Soviet equipment left at the Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory


In the evening we sat in our room and ate instant noodles, which we had brought with us, as it cost 3000 Tenge ($25) to get the three meals per day at the GAISH canteen. There was a heater in our room to keep us warm, as we were located at an altitude of 2700m, but this blew up and nearly took Hannes' hand off! We managed to find another heater, put the Beatles on my laptop and settled in to our prison type beds for the evening.

The next day we went for a walk beside the Lake, but the day changed from bright and sunny to overcast in a matter of minutes. Hannes decided to try and go back to GAISH, whilst Julia and I opted to walk around the Lake, which is 1.6km long. When we reached the far end, the heavens opened and we were left scrambling for shelter, which came in the form of a coal bunker in someones garden.
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
The heavy rain lasted for 30 minutes and once it had subsided to a gentle drizzle, we decided to make our way home.

In the evening we sat around chatting, playing Ludo and a name game and nibbling on some snacks that we had with us. In this way we managed to entertain ourselves for several hours, before turning in for the night, with the prospect of the following day been a long one.

At 08.00 we awoke and set off shortly afterwards, up a snaking jeep trail, that led high into the mountains and offered World class views of GAISH and the Lake far down below. Several hours later and having passed un-melted ice and caterpillars on the road, we made it to Kosmostansia, a site of dilapidated buildings that were used for scientific purposes. The surrounding mountains were filled with colourful purple, white and yellow flowers, with green grass, white snow and blue sky adding to the vibrant landscape.
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake


The pass at Kosmostansia was 3681m and would be the highest point of our trek, which meant it was all downhill from here, just literally, thankfully not metaphorically! It was hard to pick up a path on the way down, even with the advice of a German family that we bumped into and we ended up getting thoroughly lost, although the scenery this enabled us to see made it worthwhile.

At 13.00 we had a lunch stop to eat a can of baked beans and a rock hard loaf of bread, before pushing on with the last leg of our journey. The route saw us scrambling over rocks, past giant gopher holes, which we told Julia were giant rat holes (she hates rats), through a jaw dropping valley and across a surging stream, which had swelled due to the non stop drizzle that we were now encountering.
Julia and I in the snow
From start to finish it took over nine hours to reach Alma Arasan, which we hoped was the end of our trek.

A locked gate and a sign stating that the sanatorium was closed for repairs until 2010 stared us in the face when we arrived at Alma Arasan. It was fast becoming dark and the three of us began to fret somewhat at our options. Should we jump a barbed wire fence, walk nine hours back to GAISH or try and scramble down and along the gorge below us. A few minutes passed by and we were none the wiser, but then a security guard came out to tell us that there was a path by the river at the base of the gorge. We descended down a flight of stairs and made two crossings of the river on rickety bridges, before eventually making it to a car park.

Bad news awaited us in the parking lot, as a family told us there were no buses from there to Almaty and we had many more kilometers to walk.
Scenery on the way down to the Prokhodnaya River Valley
Cold, wet, dirty and tired we trudged off down the road, with little hope of getting back to town before the sun went down. Obviously the family could see our sorry states and took pity on us and offered to drive us back to town. Not only were we filthy, but we stank too, so we said it would be unfair to mess up their car, but they insisted it was no problem, so we squashed in with the friendly Mum, Dad, son and daughter. It was a great end to a fantastic trip and once again the Kazakh people had proved to be wonderfully kind people.

treadie53 says:
Wow, fabulous photos Phil!
I want to go there!
Posted on: Jun 19, 2008
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A view of the valley from near the…
A view of the valley from near th…
Julia and I sharing a kiss at Bols…
Julia and I sharing a kiss at Bol…
Blossoming flowers at the Tian Sha…
Blossoming flowers at the Tian Sh…
Crazy Soviet equipment left at the…
Crazy Soviet equipment left at th…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Julia and I in the snow
Julia and I in the snow
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
A yurt was the first thing we came…
A yurt was the first thing we cam…
Fire warning between GES2 and GES1
Fire warning between GES2 and GES1
Yurt and some cows, between GES2 a…
Yurt and some cows, between GES2 …
Cow on the road between GES2 and G…
Cow on the road between GES2 and …
Cows relax in the beautiful scener…
Cows relax in the beautiful scene…
Julia on the road between GES2 and…
Julia on the road between GES2 an…
Fir trees between GES2 and GES1
Fir trees between GES2 and GES1
Scenery between GES2 and GES1
Scenery between GES2 and GES1
No car washing... WTF!!
No car washing... WTF!!
Yurt set in stunning scenery betwe…
Yurt set in stunning scenery betw…
3 bears return to their yurts
3 bears return to their yurts
Hope goldilocks wasnt still sleep…
Hope goldilocks wasn't still slee…
Scenery between GES2 and GES1
Scenery between GES2 and GES1
Small river running down from the …
Small river running down from the…
A horse stood infront of pine tree…
A horse stood infront of pine tre…
The dreaded water pipe, which symb…
The dreaded water pipe, which sym…
Pretty flowers near the water pipe
Pretty flowers near the water pipe
Julia approaches the foot of the w…
Julia approaches the foot of the …
Moon face!
Moon face!
Hannes takes a photo up the valley
Hannes takes a photo up the valley
Stairs leading up the water pipe
Stairs leading up the water pipe
A view from the water pipe
A view from the water pipe
Looking back down the water pipe, …
Looking back down the water pipe,…
Looking down the water pipe into t…
Looking down the water pipe into …
Scenery at the top of the water pi…
Scenery at the top of the water p…
Pretty flowers
Pretty flowers
Pine forest
Pine forest
Julia and Hannes on the road to th…
Julia and Hannes on the road to t…
Pine trees
Pine trees
A view from near the lake
A view from near the lake
Scenery near the lake
Scenery near the lake
Looking over a pine forest
Looking over a pine forest
First view of Bolshoe Almatinskoe …
First view of Bolshoe Almatinskoe…
View of Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake a…
View of Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake …
View of Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake a…
View of Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake …
Radar dish at the Tian Shan Astron…
Radar dish at the Tian Shan Astro…
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Blossoming flowers at the Tian Sha…
Blossoming flowers at the Tian Sh…
Julia and Hannes taking a walk at …
Julia and Hannes taking a walk at…
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Pretty flowers
Pretty flowers
Views from the Tian Shan Astronomi…
Views from the Tian Shan Astronom…
Nice flower
Nice flower
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake, seen fro…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake, seen fr…
Me at Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Me at Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Hannes taking off!
Hannes taking off!
Julia and i clowning around at Bol…
Julia and i clowning around at Bo…
A bus wreck at Tian Shan Astronomi…
A bus wreck at Tian Shan Astronom…
A bus wreck at Tian Shan Astronomi…
A bus wreck at Tian Shan Astronom…
A bus wreck at Tian Shan Astronomi…
A bus wreck at Tian Shan Astronom…
A bus wreck at Tian Shan Astronomi…
A bus wreck at Tian Shan Astronom…
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
A clapped out vehicle at Tian Shan…
A clapped out vehicle at Tian Sha…
A clapped out vehicle at Tian Shan…
A clapped out vehicle at Tian Sha…
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Views from Tian Shan Astronomical …
Views from Tian Shan Astronomical…
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Views of Tian Shan Astronomical Ob…
Views of Tian Shan Astronomical O…
Snow capped mountains around Bolsh…
Snow capped mountains around Bols…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Butterfly on a flower
Butterfly on a flower
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Julia inspecting a tree on the Lak…
Julia inspecting a tree on the La…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Hannes walking around Bolshoe Alma…
Hannes walking around Bolshoe Alm…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Dark clouds above Bolshoe Almatins…
Dark clouds above Bolshoe Almatin…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Makeshift Hotel!!
Makeshift Hotel!!
The hotel receives a guest!
The hotel receives a guest!
Me in my new room
Me in my new room
Julia checks the hotel out
Julia checks the hotel out
No entry to the mountains!
No entry to the mountains!
Towering snow capped peak
Towering snow capped peak
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Where we stopped to shelter from t…
Where we stopped to shelter from …
Julia sheltering from the rain in …
Julia sheltering from the rain in…
Sheltering from the rain in a coal…
Sheltering from the rain in a coa…
sheltering from the rain in a coal…
sheltering from the rain in a coa…
Flower with raindrops
Flower with raindrops
Stream gushing into Bolshoe Almati…
Stream gushing into Bolshoe Almat…
Stream gushing into Bolshoe Almati…
Stream gushing into Bolshoe Almat…
Stream running into Bolshoe Almati…
Stream running into Bolshoe Almat…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Small stream running into Bolshoe …
Small stream running into Bolshoe…
Small stream running into Bolshoe …
Small stream running into Bolshoe…
Small stream running into Bolshoe …
Small stream running into Bolshoe…
Small stream running into Bolshoe …
Small stream running into Bolshoe…
Small stream running into Bolshoe …
Small stream running into Bolshoe…
Small stream running into Bolshoe …
Small stream running into Bolshoe…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Tian Shan Astronomical Observatory
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Julia climbing up the montain, Bol…
Julia climbing up the montain, Bo…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake and the T…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake and the …
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
Stunning mountain scenery
Stunning mountain scenery
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake and the T…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake and the …
Julia on the way up to Kosmostansia
Julia on the way up to Kosmostansia
Colourful flowers
Colourful flowers
Me on the road to Kosmostansia
Me on the road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
Julia on the road to Kosmostansia
Julia on the road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
Purple flowers
Purple flowers
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake and the T…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake and the …
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake and the T…
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake and the …
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
Hannes and i taking a breather
Hannes and i taking a breather
Me, stopped for a rest
Me, stopped for a rest
Patch of snow on the road Kosmosta…
Patch of snow on the road Kosmost…
Small caterpillar
Small caterpillar
Small caterpillar
Small caterpillar
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
The road to Kosmostansia
Views from Kosmostansia pass (3681…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (368…
Kosmostansia
Kosmostansia
Kosmostansia
Kosmostansia
Kosmostansia
Kosmostansia
Kosmostansia
Kosmostansia
Views from Kosmostansia pass (3681…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (368…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (3681…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (368…
Pik Bolshoy Almatinsky
Pik Bolshoy Almatinsky
Pik Bolshoy Almatinsky
Pik Bolshoy Almatinsky
Kosmostansia
Kosmostansia
Icy ground at Kosmostansia
Icy ground at Kosmostansia
Views from Kosmostansia pass (3681…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (368…
Purple flowers
Purple flowers
Views from Kosmostansia pass (3681…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (368…
Pik Bolshoy Almatinsky
Pik Bolshoy Almatinsky
Crossing Kosmostansia pass (3681m)
Crossing Kosmostansia pass (3681m)
Views from Kosmostansia pass (3681…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (368…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (3681…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (368…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (3681…
Views from Kosmostansia pass (368…
Going down to the Prokhodnaya Rive…
Going down to the Prokhodnaya Riv…
Hannes, Julia and I stop for lunch
Hannes, Julia and I stop for lunch
Pik Bolshoy Almatinsky
Pik Bolshoy Almatinsky
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Flowers
Flowers
Flowers
Flowers
Julia on the way down to the Prokh…
Julia on the way down to the Prok…
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Scenery on the way down to the Pro…
Scenery on the way down to the Pr…
Flower
Flower
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Flowers
Flowers
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Flowers
Flowers
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Flowers
Flowers
Flower
Flower
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Hannes and Julia caught in the rain
Hannes and Julia caught in the rain
Hannes and Julia in their rain coa…
Hannes and Julia in their rain co…
Nuts on a tree
Nuts on a tree
Large trees
Large trees
Vibrant flowers
Vibrant flowers
Pretty landscape
Pretty landscape
Pretty landscape
Pretty landscape
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Julia walking down the Prokhodnaya…
Julia walking down the Prokhodnay…
Me walking down the Prokhodnaya Ri…
Me walking down the Prokhodnaya R…
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Vibrant flowers
Vibrant flowers
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Prokhodnaya River Valley
Bolshoe Almatinskoe Lake
photo by: Deats