Charyn River, being the large confluent of the Ili River, runs in the East of the Almaty Region. The main riverhead of the Charyn River is Shalkodesu River. It begins in the south slopes of the Ketmen Ridge. In the middle flow the river is named as Kegen. After the way out to the Zhalanashskaya Valley it is named as Charyn.
Lower the Moynakskaya HPS and Bestobinskoe reservoir storage, the river flows along the deep canyon. In this place it divides the Ketmen Ridges in the Kuluktau Spur on the east and Kungey Alatau Ridge on the west. Then from the south to the north-east the river runs across the Zhalanashskaya and Sogutinskaya Valleys and from the east side rounds the Toraygyr Ridge dividing these valleys. In the region of the Charyn village it goes out to the Iliyskaya Valley. Charyn joins the Ili River with several branches, forming the large river estuary, which pushed aside the Ili River to the north at the distance of 18 kilometers.
The length of the river is about 300-320 kilometers. Along whole length, the river dodges and is divided into the several equivalent channels in the alluvial land. Charyn accepts many confluents from the north slope of the Terskei and Kungey Alatau Ridges, and became a full-flowing river, it cuts the east parts of the Zhalanashskaya Depression and Toraygyr Mountains with grandiose canyon. In the Zhalanashskaya Valley the canyon obtains the trapezoidal shape achieving the width of 3 kilometers and the deep from 200 to 300 meters. Here the cahyon is named as Aktogay (White forest). In the east part of the Toraygyr Ridge, the Charyn makes the narrow deep canyon – Kortogay (Tomb Forest).
The most known and popular object is the “Dolina Zamkov” located in Kortogai Canyon. This is completed ensemble of “palace”, “towers” and ”minarets” formed by pleiocen deposits with complicated forms of airing in a view of cornices, columns, niches.
The present view of the canyon reached approximately half a million years ago. The depth of the canyon is 100 m.
The Charyna riverbed is full of rapids. Plenty of the rotten rock layers turned to stone bared as a result of the endless wind erosion created simply magnificent extraterrestrial landscape. The rocky cliffs are especially beautiful colored by setting sun.
Uzunbulak Valley (“Yurt Dolina”, “Yellow Canyon”) is situated on the south side of the Katu Mountains. The valley is less popular and correspondingly less visited, but it is also the natural masterpiece. Wind and water erosion created amazing architectural forms of the yellow sedimentary rocks reminding jurts put as one row.
A great number of bulkas and ravines create dense and irregular net of the small independent canyons. The early man site and stone implements were found in the canyon and there are fossils of the Jurassic period.
One more canyon formed on the right side of the canyon between “Dolina Zamkov” and right feeder of the Temerlik River is named as Malyi Canyon because it is the “Dolina Zamkov” in miniature. A great number of towers, columns and “statue” reminding the statues of theEaster Island is a distinctive feature of the canyon.
One more object of the Charynskiy Canyon is a right feeder of the Charyna, the Temerlyk River. The Temerlyk is the last large feeder of the Charyn River. Also like the main river, the Temerlyk is divided in three independent canyons which have approximately equal length.
The first canyon is situated at the entrance of the river to the submontane valley of the Ketmen Ridge where the Temerlyk has its outgoing. The canyon spread for 11 kilometers. It is formed of rocky hard formations. Its width reaches 200 meters, the depth 100 meters. At the bottom of the canyon along the river, the Sogdian ash tree grows creating a shadow and coolness in the hot part of the day.
The middle part of the canyon is presented by the canyon with wide up to 1,5 kilometers and depth up to 160 meters. Its length is also 11 kilometers. Amazing is that this part of the canyon striking differs from other places of the river’s canyon. The river smoothly carries its waters in the shade of numerous trees, bushes and along beautiful green glades. The real oasis in hot semidesert. Further the river, in the shadow of the trees, rapidly carries its waters through the rocky canyon where the herd of wild horses grazes and indwells and the river comes out again to the spaces of the wide canyon.
Further the most interesting part of the canyon begins. For millions of years, the water cut deep and narrow canyon through thesedimentary rocks. The forms of the created landscape remind the “Dolina Zamkov”. The tremendous advantage of this part of the canyon over the other objects of the Charyn River is the presence of the dense green thicket and different plants creating comfortable microclimate at the bottom of the canyon.
Not less attractive is the Yasenevaya copse situated in the lower river’s flow where the Charyna Valley becomes flat and wide. This place is named as Sartogai (Yellow forest). In the copse, the unique tree grows which preserving its view for more than 2 million years since the time of Pliocene. It is Sogdian ash tree. In the copse one can find very old threes with very big thickness. The unique tree grows on the gamekeeper’s border which could be embraced by ten people only.
There also the tugai diversifolious ash tree named so because of the leaves of different size and form growing in single tree. In the meander part, the thick and impassable riparian forest with prevailing willows, oleasters and sea-buckthorn.
In the river’s estuary, in sands of Karabaskum, the “Derevyanoye ozero” is situated which was created in one of the dried feeder “staric” (former riverbed) of the Charyn river.
Striking through the sands of the Karabaskum Desert, the rivers flow twisting and creating loops which further lose their connection with the main river and nearby the riverbed there are left water bodies named as “staricy” (former riverbed) or feeders.
Such lakes not having a flows, become fine dwelling place for plant and animal life represented by few representatives of this severe, desert and beautiful world.
It is only known that in the early days, at the lake place, the copse was growing with relict Sogdian ash tree and diversifolious cottonwood - Asiatic poplar.
Till nowadays the ancient trees tower at full length at the bottom deeply under the water. And alonf the banks, on the slopes of sand dunes it is possible to observe stumps of the covered trees. In the Charynskiy Canyon, due to the rare combination of the geological factors range, interesting locations of ancient, and nowadays died out, representatives of the fauna and flora. In steeps of the Charyna there were found rich accumulations of bones turns to stone (mastodons, elephants, rhinoceros, Stenon’s horse, hyena and plenty of others).
Along the river’s banks, there are hundreds of burial mounds testifying of residence of numerous different tribes and nations in ancient times. One of the branches of the Great Silk Way lied along the Charynskiy Canyon. In the last centuries, annually in the upper reaches of the Charyna River, in Kegenskaya Valley the autumnal market was held where the goods from all over the world were brought.
Last years on the river, after the compilation of the construction works of the Moinaiskoi Hydro Power Station, the man-made Bestubiskoye storage pond gave a new appearance and new life. The river’s water settled in the storage pond became crystal-clear one and even through the rapid flow it is possible to see the bottom of this amazing river carrying its waters under the curtains of the cottonwood and Sogdian ash tree.
All objects of the Charyn river are situated in the territory of the State National Natural Park “Charyn”. The park was found in 2004 in the valley of the Charyn River on the border of Uigurskiy and Enbekshy-Kazakh district of Almaty oblast with the aim to preserve the unique natural complexes and to renovate the number of exotic species of flora and fauna. The territory of the park with a total area of 93150 sq. kilometers is located in the center of Iliyskaya intermountane kettle in 193 kilometers from Almaty.
It includes canyon-type valley and fan-shape river estuary, bordering lots of desert of the Sogetinskaya Valley and low-mountain Ulken-Boguty Ridge. Here is situated the motor, water and walking tourist ways and routes.
To the “Dolina Zamkov” on weekends, a lot of natural-studying excursions are conducted. Fans of the journey on foot conduct walking tour from the upper bridge to “Dolina Zamkov” along the riverbed inside the canyon.
Water transport tourists every summer arrive to one of the biggest river in the Northern Tien Shan. The main part of the Charynskiy canyon, from the Aktogai -wide river valley, to the Sarytogai copse, is very deep and twisting. In the main canyon it is Zubnaya Schetka, Tai-teke, Tarantul and Bronenosec. The Charynskiy Canyon is the routeof the highest rank of complexity, which can be submitted by professionals only.