A traditional yurt (Kokpek; Kazakhstan)
As the title suggests, having done the relevant background reading, it was almost an imperative that a trip to Charyn Canyon was on the cards, as after all, this is the world's second largest canyon (after the blatantly obvious canyon), and the visuals were bound to appeal. Hiring a car plus driver is a sound way of achieving this trip, and the journey can be broken up by a brief stopover in either Shelek or Kokpek towns, neither of any great size, but both suitable for at very least taking a breather. Arriving at the canyon's national park area, a nominal admission fee will allow you to drive as far as the ridge of the canyon, and the start of the unmarked pathways which lead to the viewing spots. Sure footing is something of a requirement, as none of the canyon has been cordoned off where it has been deemed that one false move could end in a fatal tumble.
A view of Charyn Canyon (Charyn Canyon; Kazakhstan)
A stairway leads down to a road which can be accessed by 4x4 vehicles only, and this is the canyon's main 'through' route which leads the visitor along a route characterized by awe-inspiring views of rock formations so abstract and patternless, that the irregular nature of the scenery makes its presence known throughout. This winding road eventually leads to a brisk-flowing river, and marks journey's end as far as the 'canyonesque scenery' is concerned, but any guide book will warn against the danger of taking a dip in water so deceptively fast-flowing. A restaurant and dining areas (one open-air, the other a yurt) lies in close proximity thereto, and thankfully, this is about as developed and commercialized as this piece of natural landscape ever stretches to. However you choose to plan your Charyn Canyon trip, be assured that it is well worth the trek, and that your senses are in for an aesthetic treat which you might not have expected out of southern Kazakhstan. In short, the canyon was all that it was made out to be, and became an integral and welcome addition to the itinerary in a country with barely a tourist infrastructure to speak of!