Alatau Mountains

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.


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Kazakhstan’s former capital, Almaty, is the largest city in the country and hugely popular with visitors. In the foothills of the Trans-ili-Alatau, this bustling commercial center is full of interesting historical buildings, fountains and parks and is surrounded by stunning natural beauty.

Dzungarian Gate

A straight valley which cuts through the Dzungarian Alatau mountain range, the Dzungarian gate is a significant mountain pass in that it allows the only access between China and Central Asia. It was historically an important point on the Silk Road and a weak spot for invaders.

Ili-Alatau National Park

Located on the northern slopes of Zailiysky Alatau and accessible from Almaty by boat across a lake, the National Park is popular with nature lovers looking for rare species of wildlife and stunning scenery. The forests, meadows and melt-water lakes are home to countless varieties of flora and fauna.

Pik Talgar

At 16,335 feet, Pik Talgar is the highest mountain peak in the Trans-ili-Alatau mountain range. Being conveniently located near the city of Almaty, it is popular with hikers and mountaineers. It is named for the town and its river of the same name, located in the same province.


Villages such as Shymbulak in the Medeu Valley are popular during the winter with skiers from all around the region. They flock to the Zaiilisky Alatau slopes for the guaranteed snow and long runs. There is also a snow park for snowboarders.


Winding mountain passes leading to Alpine meadows and soaring peaks with panoramic views make the Alatau mountains a popular destination for hikers and trekkers. In the warmer summer months, the glaciers sparkle only on the very highest peaks, leaving the terrain below accessible to walkers.

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