Introduction

There are some great outings to be made right on Almaty’s doorstep, notably into the Zailiysky Alatau range, a beautiful spur of the Tian Shan to the south of the city. The main access routes into the Zailiysky Alatau are the Malaya (Little) Almatinka valley, where the winter sports centres Medeu and Chimbulak are found, and the Bolshaya (Big) Almatinka valley, leading up to Ozero Bolshoe Almatinskoe (Big Almaty Lake). Both are part of the vast Ile-Alatau National Park. Note that foreigners are not allowed to walk into Kyrgyzstan through these mountains, and permits are officially required on some routes approaching the border.