Among the many great attractions in Almaty to see right at the top of the list of things to do in Almaty is visit Shymbulak ski resort (or sometimes spelt Chimbulak) Shymbulak is the largest ski resort in Central Asia and is one of the top Almaty tourist attractions all year round.
Shymbulak is reached by accessing the Medeu cable car base 12 kilometres out of Almaty and we can guarantee it is one epic ride to the very top. Medeu is also famous in its own right for having the highest elevated ice skating rink in the world at 1691 meters above sea level. Will this make it on to your list of places to see in Almaty when you visit?
At the base station, you will find shops selling food, drinks and souvenirs. The ticket price in the summer to the top of the mountain was 6000 tt for adults ( $£€ ) and 3000tt for kids.
Shymbulak Ski Resort is a major Almaty attraction
The mountains around Almaty are jaw-dropping in their beauty. They rise up to over 4000 meters in places and are covered with snow all year round. It can be well over 30 degrees in Almaty, people in shorts and t-shirts and the mountains close by are still covered in snow. For us, it was something we absolutely loved about visiting Almaty and we spent a lot of time just staring at the mountains.
The cable car takes you straight for the top of Shymbulak ski Resort. You pass over an amazing mountain stream, walking tracks and a dam on the way up the mountain. The clear water in the mountain stream rushes over rocks lapping at the banks, past the famous ski rink as you head ever higher.
After 15 minutes of climbing through the valley with tree-covered mountains on either side, you arrive at Shymbulak mountain resort station one. Station one is where you find accommodation, restaurants, cafes and attractions.
You will find horse riding, a ropes course, trampolines and a kids centre for families. For adults, there are bars and restaurants. We had some great coffee and the best chicken noodle soup I have ever had at a place called Paul. You can’t miss it, when you get off the cable car it is directly right in a black building with Paul written all over it.
After a short break and without realising that there were even higher sections to visit we hopped on the cable car again. Rising from 2200 to 2823 meters above sea level. The cable car ride is very deceiving!
At the second station was another restaurant. This restaurant had patches of snow on it. Yes, snow in the middle if summer! Just the day before it had been 30 degrees in Almaty and today we find snow, so our girls thought this was just the absolute best and maybe even one of the strangest things too!
There is a freshwater troff that you can put your hands in and have a drink. This is a real test of one’s willingness to embrace the elements at this altitude. The water was crystal clear and freezing.
Back on the cable car again, we went climbing to 3194 meters above sea level. We disembarked to be greeted by 6-degree temperatures and rocky escarpments covered in snow rising to the heavens.
The site was awe-inspiring. You can wander further up the hill for more views and down a small hill for views of the Shymbulak resort or Almaty. People had bought food and drinks with them and were enjoying picnics
Coming back up a 100 a small steep hill at 3200 meters altitude was quite the challenge.
It certainly gets the heart pumping. Anywhere above 2500 meters you should be aware of altitude sickness.
All along the mountain, you can see people hiking enjoying the amazing location and even thrill-seekers mountain biking Shymbulak. At one stage we received a light dusting of snow. We spent around 30 minutes at that top just soaking in the location, it is simply wow wow and more wow.
Staying at Shymbulak Kazakhstan
You can stay on the mountain for the nights at Shymbulak Resort Hotel. The hotel features both private rooms with ensuites and 6 person dorm rooms for people looking for a cheaper rate. The resort features free wifi, steam room, sauna and onsite restaurant. For more information and booking click here for Shymbulak Resort Hotel
How to get to Shymbulak Ski Resort
Car: From Al-Farabi district in Almaty along Dostyk Street you will travel 13 km until you get to Medeu base station. There is car parking within 100 meters of the Medeu base station.
Bus: Bus №12 from the bus stop at the crossroads of Dostyk district and Kurmangazy street every day from 7:00 to 20:00 (every 30 min) to Medeu base station
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About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, husband and traveller. Having been to over 30 countries worldwide I think I know a thing or 2 about travelling with kids. I have been writing about travel on our website for the last 4 years and have featured on numerous other websites. When I am not talking, dreaming and planning travel I can be found working in disability support .