Tuesday 16 May 2023
Highlights: Hiking Charyn Canyon, Zenkov Cathedra, Panfilov’s Park, Independence Square
An early start to the day with breakfast at 6.30 am. This was to allow us to explore one of the major highlights of Kazakhstan in Charyn Canyon and get to Almaty for a city tour.
On the way we stopped at the Black Canyon for a view of this impressive landscape to get us set for amazing Canyon to come.
Arriving at Charyn Canyon around 9.15 am we began a hike of this stunning area with some stairs down and then started the 2.7 kms to the furtherest point accessible for the public.
This area is mostly sandstone which can wear down quickly. You could see cracks in major boulders and it won’t take must in this unstable area to be in big trouble in the canyon.
At the furtherest point there was a stream of water that helped cool the area down and gave us all a chance to close our eyes and reflect on the wonder of nature and even life.
The 2.7 kms hike back however was a much harder affair, both due to being up hill but mostly due to the temperature really jumping as the sun got higher. It was a happy moment getting back to the starting area.
Leaving Charyn Canyon we stopped at a small town for a quick lunch and the main street was very active with BBQs, bakeries, fruit shoppers, and toy vendors. A small taste of normal Kazakhstan.
We arrived at Almaty and our hotel just after 3.00 pm and after a check shower and change of clothes it was out for our city tour.
First up was a visit to Zenkov Cathedra (aka the Ascension Cathedral) a stunning Russian Orthodox Church that was one of the rare buildings to survive a terrible earthquake in 1807.
Also in Panfilov’s Park is the Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen which recognises the 28 soldiers of an Alma-Ata Infantry unit who died while defending Moscow from the German invasion during the Second World War and giving Russia time to better defend Moscow area.
We then did a side visit to main chocolate shop selling the finest Kazakhstan chocolate which I bought a small sample to try before my flight to Tajikistan tomorrow.
Our last stop was Independence Square (aka Republic Square) created in 1981 now celebrates the country’s 1991 Independence from the old USSR and the establishment of the modern Kazakhstan state.
After a long and hectic tour so far I decided to skipped tonight’s optional group dinner. Tomorrow is a free morning before our 4 pm flight to Dushanbe, Tajikistan and a new Tour CEO, but I’m hoping to visit the Green Bazaar after breakfast.