When I arrived in Almaty on a particularly short stay, the high mountains to the south with snow on top seemed to be convincing me to go hiking again. But I saw clouds moving in, and decided to walk to the top of Kök Töbe, the highest hill of the city, offering the best views. Walking up there proved to be quite straightforward: a tall TV tower is right on top. I passed a mosque on my way up before passing the last houses of the city. I had expected to be able to walk up on trails, but it turned out that the top of Kök Töbe, or Green Hill, is an entertainment park; after paying the entrance fee, I just followed the main road which offered the best views of Almaty. The last stretch of the road was lined by a wall on which many different colourful paintings had been made - and then, I found myself on top of the hill.
Where the walk up had been quiet, here I found myself surrounded by many families. In the middle of the small square, I found the Alma fountain; a big apple, symbol of Almaty, or the City of Apples. Kids were playing around it, and a guard with an annoyed face tried to chase them away whenever they wanted to play with the water. Later, I noticed that, like in so many fountains around the world, people would throw coins, and the kids were probably trying to get some of them. I walked to the northern side of the hill, where the cable car arrives directly from Dostyq avenue; every few minutes, carloads of people would arrive directly from the city. Where I had expected a quiet park to enjoy views of the city and the mountains, turned out to be a popular trip for city dwellers.
Instead of trails running through the forest, there are paved roads, with shops, restaurants, a zoo, a market, lots of entertainment venues for kids, a discotheque, a climbing wall, a swing, and more. There is even a monument for the Beatles. Fortunately, there are also viewing platforms, there is a Lane of the Enamoured Ones in the forest, and there is a walkway on the city side which offers unobstructed views of Almaty, the Tian Shan mountains with their eternal snow to the south, and the steppes to the north. From Kök Töbe, you can appreciate the abrupt change from the awe-inspiring high altitude mountains to the pancake-flat steppes, with Almaty right in between. You also see what a green city Almaty really is: lots of green spaces in the spread out conglomeration of the former Kazakh capital. It was time to descend to street level, and see Kök Töbe from there again.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Kök Töbe Hill. Read more about this site.