Day 73 to 86 - Northern Kazakhstan

As we left the Tien Shan earlier than planned we found ourselves with a few extra days to explore Kazakhstan before our Russian visa started on the 24th of August.

We decided to head to the north of the country and explore the western edge of the Altai Mountains. We found very limited information about some hills north of a town called Ridder, but failed in our quest to find a map of the area, never fear - our free maps app ( had the tracks up into the hills marked! (Well worth downloading this free app if you’re traveling, seems incredibly accurate so far!)

A 10km walk up through the forest took us to an idyllic little Alpine lake, where we camped for a night and scrambled up the hill above the next day.

We then drove towards Semey and camped at Lake Okun’ki for a couple of nights where we bouldered and swam! The Lake is very picturesque but seems to be popular with locals, especially at the weekends, who like to play music at full volume long into the night/morning! Litter is also a bit of an issue around the lake but we managed to find a good spot away from the worst of the crowds.

We are now in Semey (formally Semiplatinsk), and have a couple of days to use the internet and restock before driving on to Mongolia (via Russia) and into the mountains again! We have been in touch with Altai-Expeditions (based in Olgii), who have helped us to obtain permits for the Tavn Bogd region of the Altai and also a letter to a camel herder arranging transport of our gear up to the base camp - camels and glaciers!


  1. We went to a Georgian restaurant in Almaty and had our favourite Georgian dish - khachapuri (freshly baked bread with cheese, butter and egg). Needed to fill up after a few weeks in the mountains!
  2. Tasty Georgian food!
  3. We stopped on the drive to Urst-Kamenogorsk to explore some interesting rock formations.
  4. Maz ‘packing’ for our walk up into the hills.
  5. The sight that made the sweaty 10km walk up through the forest all worth while!
  6. Scott ‘cooking’ a tasty Mountain House dinner!
  7. Toasty warm!
  8. Glowing tent.
  9. Scrambling up the hill above camp.
  10. Looking back down to the lovely loch.
  11. Back down and time for a swim!
  12. Crossing a burn on the way back down to the car…
  13. Shortly after the previous photo Maz gave up trying to keep feet dry!
  14. The track to Lake Okun’ki.
  15. Bouldering above camp.
  16. Camp for a couple of nights.
  17. Cooking up some dinner by the car.
  18. View from above our camp (tent and car just visible near the middle of photo)
  19. Exploring the rock formations around the lake.
  20. High point behind camp.