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Tour of Tamgaly Petroglyphs
Seasons: May 15 - October 15
Length: 3 days (170 km)
Equipment: sport shoes and clothing.
Day 1: 3 hour, 170km drive to the Tamgaly historical site. After a picnic lunch, visit to the Petroglyphs. Afternoon return to Almaty.
The natural boundary of Tamgaly is located 170 km. to the northwest of Almaty in the Anrakhai Mountains. The majority of the Petroglyphs are located in the lower part of the main canyon and in an adjacent side canyon, as well as in seven smaller canyons that are located to the northwest of the main canyon. The total number of paintings in the main canyon is approximately 2,000. All of them are conditionally divided into seven groups. The numbering of the groups starts from the estuary of the canyon. Here one can see images of sun-headed idols, disguised warriors, married couples, and women in childbirth. There are also compositions with many figures, portraying images of people and animals in hunting scenes and bull sacrifices (photo). Images of chariots are very rare. There are many solar symbols.
These Petroglyphs are from various ages, but they mostly date to the Bronze Age. "Paintings" done in the "animal" style of the Saaks are located separately from the ancient Petroglyphs. In some instances, however, they complement them and even overlay them. Medieval petroglyphic images have been hammered out on the hills surrounding the canyon, and in the waterless small canyons .
The natural boundary of Tamgaly is currently one of the most ancient and outstanding monuments of petroglyphic art of the Semirechie.
The canyon of Karakyr is located 7 km. to the northwest of the main canyon of Tamgaly on the north slope of the Anrakhai Mountains. Petroglyphic images are dispersed in the higher areas, as well as in the lower parts of several hills. The main part of the paintings, located in 2 to 3 layers, was discovered on rocky edges of the northern hill of the natural boundary.
Among the anthropomorphic images found there are sun-headed idols, figures of people, archers, horse riders, S-shaped and solar symbols and animals. The animals include bulls, horses, deer, argali, predators, dogs, and goats. There are no large multi-figured compositions. There are scenes of hunting and cattle drives, fights between archers, and sacrifices. Figures of men with their hands raised are prevalent.
These images are from different times. The bulk of the paintings, in their style and topic, are comparable with the petroglyphs of the Bronze Age in the main canyon of Tamgaly. The images of animals in the higher parts of the hills were executed in the Scythian-Siberian "animal" style.
The modest Serektas mountains are located 16 to 18 km. northeast of the ridge of Anrakhai. They are generally 250-300 meters higher than the plains. The highest point of the mountains is 600 meters above sea level and is located opposite the canyon, 16 km northwest of Tamgaly.
On the peak of these hills are carved images of deer, bulls, goats, argali, hunting archers, figures of people with their hands raised, and solar symbols.
The most interesting concentration of Petroglyphs was discovered on a rock rising above a dry canyon. The dry stream of this canyon splits the mountains from southeast to northwest. Some right-angled stone ornamentations have been preserved under the rock, on a low terrace, part of which was later disassembled for use as a livestock shelter. These were the foundations of houses of an early Iron Age settlement. The remains of the structures show that there were 6 to 8 houses in this settlement. On the next standing rock are figures of argali, deer, bulls, and goats which have been executed in the "animal" style. They can be regarded as part of the settlement and were created at the same time.
The images of Yurts differ from the main group of Petroglyphs by their knockout technique and color of patina. It seems that they were later drawn on the surface of the rock. Small rectangular figures can be seen in these images, and this possibly signifies an entrance. In total there are approximately 50 to 60 images hammered into the rock, located above the settlement.
The mutual arrangement of these early Iron Age settlements and Petroglyphs seem to suggest the sanctuary of a group, which belonged to one and the same tribe.
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