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Kazakhstan: Almaty Winter Escapes (3)

13 Dec

Winter is really on its way now in Almaty, with snow making on and off appearances and New Year decorations springing up. Kazaxia wants to share some of its favourite things to do in and around Almaty to help pass those frosty days and long nights.

Our third tip is the Tabagan leisure complex.

If you’re in need of a longer break from the fumes and noise of Almaty life, then why not consider a visit to this leisure complex located near the village of Gorny Sadovod some 17km from Almaty’s city limits on the road to Talgar. Click here for detailed directions.

A cottage at Tabagan, near Almaty

The complex features a hotel and cottages – accommodation prices vary according to the time of the week and the time of year when you visit.

There’s plenty to keep you occupied with a downhill ski run, complete with a chair lift, a small skating rink, an indoor swimming pool, sledging and horse riding on offer. Look out for the resident reindeer roaming the grounds. Après-ski is provided in the on-site restaurants and bars.

Kazakhstan: Almaty Winter Escapes (2)

5 Dec

Winter is really on its way now in Almaty, with snow making on and off appearances and New Year decorations springing up. Kazaxia wants to share some of its favourite things to do in and around Almaty to help pass those frosty days and long nights.

Our second tip is Tau Spa Center.

This spa center is located on the road leading through the Almarasan valley to Big Almaty lake. It combines heated outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs with a Russian banya, a Finnish sauna, a Turkish steamroom and a Japanese bath. For the hardcore there’s an unheated plunge pool for some serious cooling down.  

An outdoor swimming pool at Tau Spa Center, Almaty


There are heated indoor mineral pools and three cafés on-site providing beer, vodka and shashlyk. It can get pretty crowded at weekends and look out for bling bling crosses being worn by some of the clientèle -they’re risking some serious burns in the banya!

One-off visits don’t come cheap at 10,000 tenge ($67.50), although you can buy cards for 20 visits for 100,000 tenge ($675.00) and sometimes there are offers with 5-visit cards costing 15,000 tenge ($100 but with limited validity). Bring your own towel and dressing gown unless you want to be deprived of yet more of your hard-earned cash.

Kazakhstan: Almaty Winter Escapes (1)

1 Dec

Winter is really on its way now in Almaty, with snow making on and off appearances and New Year decorations springing up. Kazaxia wants to share some of its favourite things to do in and around Almaty to help pass those frosty days and long nights.

Our first tip is the outdoor skating rink at Medeu.

Medeu, home to one of the best winter activities in Almaty – ice skating – is an immense skating rink located at an elevation of 1,691 metres and boasts a huge space for ice aficionados.

Since it opened in 1972 more than a hundred speed skating world records have been set in the ideal conditions found at Medeu. The setting is outstanding with snowy peaks and fir tree clad hillsides visible from the ice.

It’s easy to get to Medeu from the city with the number 6 bus running regularly from the bus stop opposite the Hotel Kazakhstan on the corner of Dostyk and Kurmangazy streets.

Lord Venal and friends take to the ice at Medeu


Some seasoned Medeu skaters think that it’s not so much fun since they cracked down on drinking on the ice, although this has made the experience somewhat safer as you’re less likely to crash into other drunks on the ice!

It costs 1,600 tenge ($11.00) for a session (half price for kids and students) and if you don’t have your own skates then you can hire them for 1,000 tenge ($6.75) for two hours.

Usually there’s two sessions a day from Thursday to Sunday with a morning session from 10.00 – 16.00 (09.00 at weekends) and an evening session from 18.00 – 23.00. You can check the opening times on this site or call 3869533 in Almaty.

Kazakhstan: A short walk in the Ile-Alatau National Park

30 Oct

Kazaxia took advantage of some fine autumn weather last week to visit the Ile-Alatau National Nature Park to see how the people of Almaty like to commune with nature. The park is a short drive from the centre of the city and is popular with day-trippers.

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The foothills of the Tien Shan mountain range are still showing the ravages of a devastating storm in May which trashed loads of trees, providing rich pickings forKazakhstan’s lumberjacks, who are currently engaged in clearing the damage up.

The park is ostensibly a protected zone where building is not allowed, but this hasn’t stopped some bigwigs from commandeering a prime slice of the park for their own compound of four sizeable wooden mansions. The walled compound stands opposite the dilapidated housing of the Park Rangers making for a stark contrast of how the two halves live in Kazakhstan.

Sometimes, guards man the barriers at the park entrance to extort an ‘entrance fee’ to the park. Seeing the rubbish strewn all around the park, you can’t help but wonder what happens to all the park fees the guards collect.

Tamgaly Petroglyphs – History Etched in Stone

26 Jul

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The Tamgaly petroglyphs, located in a gorge some 170km north-west of Almaty, are an amazing testament to the long history of human habitation in this isolated corner of Kazakhstan.

The area has been inhabited for around 5,000 years since the late Bronze Age and the thousands of rock carvings trace human development from hunter-gathers who worshipped the sun, via the domestication of horses and camels and the use of bows and arrows, to later inhabitants who led a more settled, pastoral way of life and up to more recent visitors in the twentieth century.

The site is one of three places in Kazakhstan included on the UNESCO World Heritage List – the others being the Khoja Ahmed Yaswai Mausoleum in Turkestan and the Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan.

To find out more about the history of these fascinating rock carvings click here.