The Turgen Gorge in the Ile-Alatau National park (90 km from Almaty) is an ideal place to enjoy the beauty of nature. The gorge has hot springs, a trout farm, waterfalls and lots of woods. Rich in coniferous and mixed forests, alpine and sub-alpine meadows, lakes and springs, medicinal herbs and berries, the gorge plunges 44 km to the vast Assy plateau (2560 m). Long ago caravans from Europe passed through the “Royal Gates” on their way to the East- to China and India. The broad valley stretches east for 600 km. From here you can mountain-bike to the Charyn Canyon or the Kolsai Lakes. The Turgen Gorge is famous for its seven waterfalls. The Medvezhy (Bear) Falls drop 30 metres in a beautiful setting amidst overhanging cliffs and green fir trees, while the Bozgul Falls are known for the force of the water, which has worn away and entire tunnel in the rock. The earthquake-damaged cliffs in the gorge still preserve traces of pre-Ice Age vegetation. Another notable feature of the gorge is the relict Chin-Turgen mossy fir forests which cover the ground and form a thick carpet of trees. The most popular spot in the Turgen Gorge is Botan, the hunting base. Here, where three rivers meet, the gorge is at its deepest – 920 meters. The Turgen river flows south-west, while the Kishi-Turgen runs south-east. There is an observatory on the plateau. Ancient burial mounds and rock drawings are dotted along the Asy river. There are quite a few Sacae and Usun graves in the gorge dating back to 500 BC – 300 AD. Holiday homes such as Stetson Rancho, Sinegorye and Tauturgen are located where the hot springs flow into the rapid Turgen river. The small mountain lakes above the Sinegorye are wonderful for bathing and fishing, while lower down is a trout farm where you can catch your own fish and cook them for supper. The Issyk Gorge contains the lovely Lake Issyk (1760 m). In 1963 powerful torrents of meltwater from the glacier area poured into the upper reaches of the Issyk river. The gigantic waves destroyed the natural dam and the lake was washed away within hours. Even now it has been only partly restored.