Commonly referred to as Dolina Zamkov (Valley of the Castles),
Charyn Canyon is one of Kazakhstan's finest nature spots.
With fantastic Grand canyon-style rock sculptures and
multi-coloured gorges, the 80 km canyon has excellent
canyoning, rafting and hiking and is best visited on a
2-day trip from Almaty or en-route from China.
The Charyn has some of the world's finest rafting
- mostly of the highest level of difficulty, which should
only be attempted with professional equipment and accompany.
The trekking and hiking in and around Dolina Zamkov is
easy; other routes are easier done with professional guidance.
A visit to the canyon is also possible in a day-trip from
Almaty. Unfortunately at present we cannot recommend camping
at the bottom of Dolina Zamkov which has become an all-too-favourite
weekend hangout for local tourists.
The Charyn River is running through the deep canyon with
bizarre rock monuments reminding in shape of castles and
towers on top of steep rocky walls. The Torajgir Mountain
have got elevations of more than 2000 m and are one of
several southeast Kazakh mountain ranges north of the
The walls of Charyn
Canyon in Dolina Zamkov area show rock storeys of different
ages and different origin. Dark rocks at the bottom of
Charyn Canyon and in the lower part of Dolina Zamkov are
volcanic lava rocks. These
are the oldest rocks in this area. On top of these rocks
are layers of much younger rocks. These red cliffs (i.e.
the walls of Dolina Zamkov), consist of solid gravel which
was deposited by debris flows. The plains around Charyn
Canyon are covered with grey gravel which was deposited
by rivers, and dust which was deposited by wind. Sand
and gravel on the bottom of Charyn Canyon was deposited
by Charyn River. Some gravel on terraces above Charyn
River is evidence of Charyn's former river bed.
rocks of Torajgir Mountains are of about the same age
as the old volcanic lava rocks and also of volcanic origin.
They consist of solid lava and depositions of material
thrown out by volcanos eruptions. These rocks were later
lifted up along a fault plane (as geologists call it).
In western Dolina Zamkov are volcanic rocks of different
colours which have about the same age as the other rocks
of volcanic origin. They consist (like the rocks of Torajgir
Mountains) of ashes and stones thrown out by volcanos.
Later these rocks were bended up so that they are at the
This information has been compiled by Stefan Lang. Click
here for more geological information on the Charyn River