In the southeast of Kazakhstan stand the Trans-ili-Alatau mountains; connected to a number of ranges that stretch through Central Asia, linked by interweaving vegetation and characterized by their similar rock formations. Here, near the Kazakh border with Kyrgyzstan, the Trans-ili-Alatau, the highest of which is Pik Talgar, form the northernmost part of the Tien Shan mountains and slope down into Kazakhstan, where towns and villages including the former capital - Almaty - are nestled in their foothills. Following the range further to the northeast, the Dzungarian Alatau mountains run along the Kazakh border with China and include the Dzungarian Gate, a famous historic through-way used for centuries for trade and by invaders.
The mountainous areas have a continental climate with warm summers when much of the snow melts and the terrain is good for hiking, trekking and nature spotting. Skiing is popular on the snowy peaks throughout the cold winters, especially in the areas around Almaty.