The Charyn Canyon is one of the most exotic places you could visit. The strange forms left by erosion and weathering create an unreal fairyland of weird sandstone sculptures – the Walley of Castles, Witches¢ Gorge, and so on. It is sometimes said that the Charyn Canyon is a smaller version of the famous Grand Canyon in Colorado, USA, but in fact it has a charm of its own.
The Canyon extends for 154 km NE-SW along the Charyn river, one of the deepest rivers of the Northern Tien-Shan (193 km east of Almaty). The river flows through Carboniferous-period sedimentation and rock. This unusually picturesque section has a very varied relief. The steep canyon slopes, columns and arches rise to heights of 150-300 m. The landscape is broken up with numerous gullies and ravines here and there. The rushing Charyn river is full of rapids. Where it flows trough wetlands, its banks are covered with thickets of willow, poplar, barberry and tamarind. The depths of the canyon have preserved a rare ash tree that has survived the Ice Age; the Sogdian ash was very common 25 million years ago. The Asian poplar groves are also of interest.