Hidden routes around Almaty: the Three Waterfalls Route in Ile Alatau Park
Most part of tourists are used to get to Shimbulak to enjoy skying, but there are many other places worth of a visit; especially if you like trekking surrounded by wild nature. One of the path well-knowed by local is inside the Natural Park “Ile Alatau” on the way to the Big Almaty Lake and it’s called the Three Waterfall Route, inside the Valley Ayu Sai (Bear’s Valley). The peculiarity of this track is, beyond the pleasant waterfalls, the possibility to walk inside a pines’ wood and to meander along the valley’s creek.
From the First President Park you can choose to take the bus number 28 to get inside the Natural Park, following Dulati street and reach the last bus stop after the crossing with Kokshoku street. With the usually overfilled bus it will take around two hours by foot to reach the end of the Three Waterfall Route. Otherwise, always from the First President Park, there are taxi waiting tourists to lead them to the Big Almaty Lake. You can ask to a taxi driver to let you inside the Park, exactly where the statue of the bears stands on the right, at the beginning of the track, just around 200 meters after the Restaurant with many yurta outside on your left.
From the bears statue you should continue the way up to the mountain until you will reach at your left the first waterfall. It’s around two meters high and it’s enclosed by rock’s walls. You can think that this is the end of the adventure, but is just the beginning! You have to climb on the slippery rocks on the right of the waterfall to continue along the stream; and yes, you need good shoes and to be in a good shape to go on. However is possible to continue only from the end of April to the beginning of November, by the moment that the snow will totally cover this route in the others months.
Up there is possible to admire the falling of the water and the second waterfall that is just 5 meter far from that point. You can proceed on the path along the creek, surrounded by a forest of pines. Some trees are bent over the whispering water, that’s make the place a romantic ones. Following the road you will climb up to a hill where there is a good place to have a pic-nic; companies are stopping by making fire to cook shashlik.
Continue to follow the river; in some points the route isn’t pretty well signed and you should improvise your way through the rocks, even walking over layed trunks (for me was the more funny part). After one hour by foot you will reach the third waterfall, the biggest one, enclosed by high and bare rocks’ walls. Be not surprise if you see some half naked locals taking a quick shower under the freezing water of the waterfall: they are Kazakh, they can!
Advices for the trip
From the late May to the beginning of September, the place is full of annoying ticks, be aware of that! As I mentioned, it’s possible to complete the Three Waterfalls Route from the end of April to the beginning of November, depending on the amount of snow in the Valley. However, good shoes for trekking are highly recomended in every seasons.
For info about others hidden route around Almaty, click here.