For anyone who’s ever glimpsed a picture of Big Almaty Lake on Instagram or the pages of Nat Geo, it’s nearly impossible to get the vibrant blue color out of your head. While most visitors to Almaty will have a day trip out to the lake on their itinerary, getting there and back isn’t quite as straightforward as one might hope. We found one of the easiest and most economical ways to get to the lake is to utilize the local taxis. Here’s everything you need to know to get to Big Almaty Lake by taxi, including estimated costs and travel time.
How to Get to Big Almaty Lake by Taxi
I like to utilize the taxi app Yandex whenever I’m in a former Soviet country. Having already used the service extensively to get around the Caucasus, I found that its one of my favorite taxi apps anywhere in the world for planning day trips, since it lets you plot up to four separate destination points.
To use Yandex to book a taxi out to Big Almaty Lake, follow these steps:
- Put your first destination as Big Almaty Lake. This will have them pick you up from your location in Almaty and take you to the car park above the lake.
- Do not order the taxi yet.
- Hit the + symbol to add a second destination.
- Mark your second destination as whatever point in Almaty you’d like to be dropped back off at.
With both destinations entered, you’ll get a fare estimate. Note that this estimate includes the distance, but not the wait time, so your final total will be hire depending on how long you spent out at the lake.
For our trip, the original fare estimation was about 6000 tenge, or about $17 USD. This included pick-up and drop-off at Dostyk Plaza. We spent about one hour at the lake. Our final total with wait time was about 7000 tenge, or about $20. There was also a cost of about 500 tenge per person (about $1.50 USD) to get into the park. Since my friend and I split the cost of the taxi, the entire trip ended up being about 4000 tenge, or less than $12 USD each.
Note: if you don’t have a Kazakhstan sim card, have the driver show you the total at the end of the trip after it updates to calculate in the wait time. Data was super cheap in Almaty (though not as cheap as getting a data card in Kyrgyzstan). I would highly recommend getting a data package when in Kazakhstan.
Breakdown of Costs to go from Almaty to Big Almaty Lake by Taxi
Taxi Distance: about 6000 tenge
Wait time (per hour): about 1000 tenge
Park Entrance Per Person: about 500 tenge
Keep in mind that the taxi fare cost can change slightly depending on traffic, and you will spend more if you stay longer. To keep costs down, travel with 3-4 people instead of going solo or with one other person. You can also choose to hitchhike, which is a very popular option. The main drawback to hitchhiking for me personally is you’re not in control of your own time as much as in a taxi. However, my friend Megan has traveled extensively in the region and has hitchhiked out there before and recommends it as an option. If you want to know more about planning a trip out to Big Almaty Lake, check out her thorough guide to visiting the lake.
Estimated Times for Visting Big Almaty Lake
The drive from central Almaty to Big Almaty Lake is about fifty minutes each way, depending on traffic. We spent an hour at the lake, but you could easily spend more time if you decide to picnic or go on the hike to the waterfall. Therefore, leave a minimum of two and a half hours for your trip, but know you can spend more time there if you choose. We also had our driver stop on the way back down to take pictures of some of the mountains.
5 Things to Pack for Big Almaty Lake in Kazakhstan
- Lonely Planet Central Asia which is available as a paper copy or in a Kindle edition.
- Your Passport since you might be required to show it to a guard. The area around the lake is part of the border with Kyrgyzstan, so you need to have it with you at all times.
- Your Cell Phone and Camera to get that Insta Pic you know you’re dying to come back with.
- Trekking Poles for anyone planning to do the hikes nearby or while in Kazakhstan, especially if you have knee issues.
- Travel Insurance Policy information, because things happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any hiking or trekking while in Kazakhstan.
I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any adventure sports like horseback trekking, hiking, or traveling off-road. Even in Almaty, you’ll be happy when you’re able to replace your stuff if it’s lost or stolen.
More about Traveling in Central Asia
- Big Almaty Lake: 15 Pictures of Kazakhstan’s Stunning Turquoise Jewel
- 25 Reasons You Need to Travel Kazakhstan ASAP
- Mind-Blowing Facts about Kazakhstan
- Tamgaly Tas: How to Visit Kazakhstan’s Enchanting Buddhist Rock Art Sanctuary
- Visiting Nomad’s Land: The Abandoned Movie Set in the Kazakhstan Steppe
- Kyrgyzstan Travel Advice
- Things to do in Bosteri, Kyrgyzstan
- The World Nomad Games