Чарынский национальный парк - объект ЮНЕСКО

Charyn National Park (UNESCO Site)

Location and Territory

Charyn National Park is located in the valley of the Charyn River in the Almaty region.

Territory: 127 050 hectares

Main Attractions

Charyn River

The Charyn (Sharyn) River is a left tributary of the Ili River, the largest river of the Semirechye (Jetysu). The length of the Charyn River is 255 km, counting from the confluence of the Kegen and Shalkodesu rivers. The Charyn River is so powerful that its huge delta pushes the Ili River by 18 km. Charyn receives many tributaries from the northern slope of the Kungey Alatau ridge and after that, having become a powerful river, it goes through the Zhalanash Valley and runs along a deep canyon. In the Zhalanash Valley, the canyon's depth is about 300 meters. Further, the river crosses Toraigyr, the small rocky ridge, and keeps running in a deep canyon, the depth of which reaches 500 meters. In this area, Charyn receives the only large tributary, the Temirlik River.

Along the Charyn River there are such places as Aktogay (White Forest), Kurtogay (Grave Forest), and the White Mountains, outcrops of white clay, devoid of vegetation, on the eastern bank of the river. The White Mountains stretch eastward for several kilometers. Their rounded shapes with deep and narrow gorges form a complex of natural mazes.

Valley of Castles

At the exit of the Toraigyr ridge, a 5-kilometer gorge called "Valley of Castles" descends from the west into Charyn. Usually, this deep beautiful gorge is meant under "Charyn Canyon", the famous tourist site.

For many centuries, under the influence of heavy downpours, light sand and pebble rocks were gradually washed out in this gorge, thereby deepening its bottom. Stronger earth rocks, cemented by red clay, have created a unique landscape of bizarre shapes that resemble tall statues and ancient castles.

Boguty (Bogety) Mountains

In the famous Sogety Valley, where the Kazakhs under the leadership of Raiymbek-batyr defeated the Dzungar conquerors, the depth of the Charyn Canyon decreases, and near the bridge to the city of Chundzha, the Charyn River breaks out into the open space. From the western side, the old low mountains Boguty (Bogety, Buguty) adjoin the river. They are called "Red Mountains" because of the many shades of red in the rocks. In some places the slopes of the Boguty mountains sparkle with crystals of salt. The landscape of the Red Mountains is so bizarre that one can feel himself to be on the planet Mars.

Ash Grove

From the Boguty mountains and almost to the delta, the area of ​​the Charyn River is called Sarytogay (Yellow Forest). It is here that the floodplain (tugai) forest consists mainly of Sogdian ash, a very unique tree. This tree grows only in three places on earth, therefore it is also called the relict ash tree. A significant massif mass of Sogdian ash trees has survived to this day in the Ash Grove, which has been declared a natural monument since 1964. There are several trees in the grove which are estimated to be 250-300 years old. These trees reach a height of 25-30 meters, and at the base of the trunk, on protruding roots of such tree, up to 10 people can be placed.

At this place, the Charyn River is divided into several branches, along the banks of which a massive floodplain forest grows, where you can easily get lost. Wild boars, roe deer, hares, foxes, wolves are found here.

Wooden Lake

The Charyn River flows into the Ili River in several branches, forming a huge delta. On one of them there is a beautiful lake called Wooden Lake. According to one of the versions, many years ago, when the main channel of the Charyn River passed in this place, there was a relict ash forest here. The centuries-old accumulation of sand gradually dammed the river, and a lake was formed, and an ash forest remained at its bottom. Now the remnants of this forest can be seen behind the huge sand dunes, which are the natural dam of the lake on the north side.

The Wooden Lake is surrounded by reed thickets, which practically swallowed up the entire western part. In recent years, the lake has been decreasing in size not only due to the active growth of reeds, but also due to the onset of the surrounding sand dunes. For many thousands of years, the Charyn River brought and washed in this place a significant amount of sand, which has formed numerous real sandy mountains, the height of which reaches 10-30 meters.

Flora and Fauna

The valley of the Charyn River with dense floodplain forests and rocky gorges is rich in animal and plant species.

Sogdian ash is the most famous representative of the Charyn National Park flora. In the floodplain (tugai) forests, there are oleaster, Ili barberry, lianas (clematis), salt tree, tamarisk, kendyr (dogbane). In the Valley of Castles saxaul, calligonum, wild rose are widespread. There are many turanga groves (mixed-leaved poplar) in the vicinity of the Wooden Lake.

Mountain goats (teke) live on the steep cliffs, and birds of prey, such as golden eagle and bearded vulture, soar in the sky. In the Charyn Canyon, there are foxes, turtles, desert lacertas, arrow-snakes and numerous "cities" of the great gerbil. In the dense forests along the river there are wild boars, roe deer, hares, foxes, wolves, badgers, mountain partridges.

The Boguty Mountains in late spring and early June are transformed, the surface of the "red planet" becomes decorated with steppe greenery and lush flowering of desert plants.


On the banks of the turbulent Charyn River, one can fish for the naked osman which is common in these waters. The Wooden Lake is also a great place to relax and fish, as carp, snakeheads and other fish are caught here.

Other national parks in the Almaty Region: