Almaty: the Shimbulak and Medeu resorts, alternatives things to do. Kazakhstan.

Almaty: the Shimbulak and Medeu resorts, alternatives things to do. Kazakhstan.

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From the intersection of  Abaya and Dostyk Av. it’s possible to take the city bus number 12  which leads you with less than one euro at the base of the winter sports attractions of the city: Medeu. At this point you can get the cableway to Shimbulak ski resort, 25 km from the city, very popular not only by tourists but also by local snowboarders and skiers.

Medeu and the skating rink

View from the top of the step at Medeu
View from the top of the step at Medeu

In the long valley, it was built at the height of 1691 meters the Stadium with the second largest ice rink (more than 10,000 square meters) in all of Asia. During the weekends the buses are besieged by families and children who go to Medeu to skate or, simply, to walk along the paths around the stadium. You can also rent skates in the underpass between Abaya and Dostyk Av. with savings for your pockets. The stadium is open, in winter, even in the evening on weekends; particularly fascinating is to skate in the snow, with the fresh coat that settles slowly on the track.

Above the stadium there is a stairway of 843 steps that leads you to the mammoth dam built by the communist government in the late 60s, to protect the valley and the city from possible floods and avalanches. At the top you can admire the peaks of the Trans Ily Alatau chain, which rise proudly above the clouds. On the steps there is a small bar where they serve fresh shashlik, the Georgian meat skewers, particularly tasty and cheap; even tastier if you arrive there on foot …

How to reach Shimbulak

On the cablecar to Shimbulak
On the cablecar to Shimbulak

To reach Shimbulak at 2260 meters above sea level, you can take the cable car one stop before Medeu. The cost of the round ticket is 2500 tenge (about 7 euros). If you are interested in skiing, you can buy season tickets for a day up to a month for prices much lower than the European fees (which is why many foreigners come here for the white week). Another route to Shimbulak is the ecological taxi (cars are not allowed along the road to the ski resort) or the small bus that leaves every half hour from the Stadium square in Medeu. The cost of the bus ticket is only 400 tenge, round trip; the inconvenience remains in the fact that it is very crowded and often you are forced to wait for the next one.

What to do in Shimbulak

Restaurant's Square
Restaurant’s Square

Once arrived in Shimbulak Resort, you can take the additional cable car that leads you to the top of the ski slopes, relax in the various restaurants and bars with a good cup of tea or take the path on the right for trekking.

For the first variant, you will find yourself at the Talgar pass at 3180 meters, from which you can start the descent by ski; in the summer there are many visitors who decide to walk along the paths. Almaty mountaineers find themselves in the warmer months here in one of their base camps, from which they start their routs to climb over 4000 meters of the peaks present in the area. In any case, the view is breathtaking; so even if you do not practice sports I suggest you to continue with the cable car up to the last station to fully admire the peaks of the Trans-Ily Alatau.

If you prefer to eat, Shimbulak offers cafes and restaurants with typical Kazakh cuisine, to be savored sitting in the open space, directly at the base of the ski slope. Prices are not cheap. On the right of the plant, you will find games for children and an installation for mountaineering at various levels of difficulty. Do not be fooled by appearance like me, the third floor is not a walk, especially if you suffer from vertigo!

Trekking and practical information
Trekking at Shimbulak
Trekking at Shimbulak

On the right, the asphalt road continues for about two kilometers along the side of the stream. The landscape is enchanting and the trail allows you to continue on road by foot for other miles; among small hotels, pine forests, the roar of the river and the rocky sides of the peaks that stand out on the horizon. On the right side of the stream, find another base camp for mountaineers; you can turn there if you want more information on the various paths.

Throughout the area there are hotels of various categories; in Kazakhstan there is no mass tourism, so very rarely you will find  rooms at good prices. An alternative for those traveling on a tight budget are the hostels that are located in the city center. For more information about trekking routes around Almaty, click here.

Telephone number for tourist information: +7 727 379 933

Official sites for hotels and information in English.


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