A little desert in the middle of Tian Shan

dsc_0205One of my dreams is to see a desert, to step on it’s sands, build a castle near oasis and make a lot of bright photos.
Visiting Central Asia brought me a gift of travelling to the natural wonder – a sandy dune in the middle of Kazakh prairies. It is fantastic to see a piece of desert surrounded by mountains and river Ili on the other side. How come this huge sandy hill 150 meter high and 3 km long appears here? The experience of climbing the sandy hill and observing the Alatau mountains around was wonderful indeed and this is a real must see place in Kazakhstan.
There is a short video of the “Singing Sands” with it’s inhabitants and best places for perfect shot.
People call this barkhan “Singing Sands” because of the noise and produces during the walk on it’s top. When the weather is windy the sound could be heard far away from here… it reminds the noise of the airline engine.



The “Singing Sands” dune is situated in national preservation Altyn-Emel. ‘Altyn’ means gold and ‘Emel’ – saddle. The national park got this name because if to watch on the mountains from the distance you will see something which will remind you the saddle of the horse.



Despite the strong winds, the sand mountain had not moved around the plain. It’s been in the same place for a long long time. It is not obvious how did this sand appear here but it settled down here for centuries…


After your walk on the peak of the sandy hill the wind will blow away all the steps in 2 hours.




There are many lizards living at the bottom of the barkhan. Their color is the same as the sand, so they are masking so easily. They are quite friendly and like to be photographed.



It took as 7 hours by bus to get here from Almaty. The tour bro promised it would be around 4 hours, but… seems like no one will go there if to know the road conditions. First 2 hours the road is pretty good and another 5 – you have to drive slowly among the desert.


Despite the long exhausting we spent 2 hours exploring the hill which is not really enough for photographer. It was just a quick glimpse to the natural wonder of Kazakhstan and than we were needed to go back in order to come home at midnight.



I’m in love with this place and I’ll nominate it to the weekly challenge under the category of Shine. The natural diversity and vivid colours of the sky and sand impressed me and inspired to visit the real desert like Sahara sooner. There is something special in all that sand… which will stay there and wait for the new visitors and than blow away their steps to get ready for the others.



13 thoughts on “A little desert in the middle of Tian Shan

  1. “There is something special in all that sand… which will stay there and wait for the new visitors and than blow away their steps to get ready for the others”

    Yes the sand doesn’t care who the people are who steps on it. It is not impressed with the social standing of those who stand on it. It indiscriminately prepares itself for the new visitor!

    Love the article and photos and I hear your heart – 2 hours isn’t enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I once spoke to a specialist (a doctor) who treated me who mentioned to me that he saw his reflection in an historic building in Italy and realized that the reflection doesn’t care about the legacy you leave (not impressed with who you are). It was happy to reflect any persons face who walks past it. It made him realize that life isn’t all about him.

    And on a total different note in my latest blog you can come and climb Table Mountain in Cape Town with me. The post is in Afrikaans but the photos are understandable 🙂


  3. I guess I missed looking at this post of yours!
    Lovely pictures Lidiia! Looks like you’ve had good fun in this desert.
    Out here in our state, we have India’s only desert – The Thar. Its a living desert with home to many communities and spread over a huge area. Jaiselmer is one of the top tourist attractions amid this desert.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually it’s not a desert but just a dune in the middle of the mountains. I really want to visit a real desert. I found absolutely stunning all the pictures with Sahara. Thank you for letting me know about the Indian desert, The That looks brilliant as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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