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Kazakhstan: Kök Töbe Hill

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Kök Töbe Hill | Kazakhstan | Asia

[Visited: July 2013]

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.

Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): The Tian Shan mountain range seen from Kök Töbe

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.

Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): Almaty and the Tian Shan mountain range to the south seen from Kök Töbe

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.

Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): The Alma fountain is one of the places of interest on top of Kök Töbe
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): The TV tower on top of Kök Töbe easily identifies the hill in the city
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): Path through the park on top of Kök Töbe
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): Trail running over Kök Töbe
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): Two Kazakh women swinging in the Altybakan swing
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): City-side walkway on top of Kök Töbe offering views of Almaty
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): The monument for the Beatles on top of Kök Töbe
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): Looking out over Almaty city from the top of Kök Töbe
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): Looking towards the steppes to the north of Almaty
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): The last stretch of the wall at the roadside, covered in paintings
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): Bridge on top of Kök Töbe
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): You can buy all kinds of Kazakh stuff at this street stall on top of Kök Töbe
Picture of Kök Töbe Hill (Kazakhstan): Restaurant in the shape of a yurt on top of Kök Töbe

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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