You don’t need to go into space to see the red planet. Just get into the car and drive to the Zaysan depression. A few hours drive – and you are near the legendary hills of Kiin-Kerish. In East Kazakhstan lies the legendary canyons of Kiin-Kerish red-hot sceneries that greatly resemble Mars. In the middle of the endless desert, not far from Lake Zaisan situated bizarre red rocks Kiin-Kerish. The canyons are located 333 km from Oskemen and 120 km from Kurchum town. The canyons are covered with a red landscape that diluted with yellow and white spots. Kiin-Kerish is one of the most mysterious places in Kazakhstan, also known as the City of Spirits or Burning Cliffs and everything here seems unearthly and mystical.
The bright colors of the clay rocks indicate that they were formed in the hot and humid tropical climate of the Mesozoic when dinosaurs predominated. The Flame Canyon is one of the few natural sites in Kazakhstan, which is one of the twenty geological wonders of the planet Earth. On the territory of Kiin-Kerish, scientists note five floristic geological horizons, and four, in which one can find the bones of ancient crocodiles, turtles, rhinos, salamanders, and other representatives of prehistoric fauna. You can also find prints and fossils of ancient vegetation – magnolias, araucaria, even palms.
Getting closer, you will be able to see complex formations of layers, dotted with winds, waters of melted snows, and rains, which carry the memory of different periods of the life of our planet. Each Kiin-Kerish opens in its way. Someone sees in them a reflection of the landscapes of the planet bearing the name of the ancient god of war – Mars. Someone sees the intricacies of numerous ravines and red hills, unusual in the landscape, as dwellings of ancient spirits or fabulous monsters. If you go up and look at the canyon from a hill, you can and can see the same flames.
what to see around KIIN-KIRISH VALLEY
Shekelmes Cape, another unique natural monument, is placed 20 km from Kiin-Kerish Valley. It is a smaller version of the Kiin-Kerish valley and, according to geologists, was formed by a meteorite. Due to the collision, the lower layers of the earth came to the surface, creating an unusual landscape. In the area mainly inhabit pelicans, cormorants and rare species of animals like gyrfalcons, bustards, black-sprouted specks and desert shrikes.
There is a village of Amanat which also worth visiting. It is an unusual village where people live in adobe houses. Additionally, Muslim burials are located behind Amanat at a distance of 5-10 kilometers. Besides, can can also check out Lake Zaysan. The water is warm – you can swim. You can stop here and relax on the shore for a couple of days.
How to get to Kiin-Kirish Canyon
The best way to get to Kiin-Kerish is to start a journey from Ust-Kamenogorsk. Public transports don’t run to the valley so there is the only way to get by own car, hire a taxi or join an organized tour. If you do not own a car then go for organized tours. There are a number of organized tours to the valley from Ust-Kamenogorsk. Usually, these tours include guides so you don’t need to worry about how to reach them.
The road from Oskemen lies through the ferry “Kyzyl Tu” to which 168 km of relatively flat road. On the way, you go for a short swim to refresh in the banks of Zaysal lake. From the beach to the next the village of Kurchum – about 60 km. Make sure to refuel a car and supply some water and get enough food. Since is not any more gas stations till the valley. Moving further from Kurchum drive about 80 km along the highway to the exit onto a dirt road. There no official sign but in the place where power transmission poles running along the road cross the roadway leave the road and turn right. Up to Kiin-Kerish, 15 km remain on clay soil.
Try to leave early in the morning and check the ferry timetable beforehand, since the ferry usually starts to operate from 6-7 in the morning so you would be on time to get straight to the ferry. The road will take about 8 hours. Therefore if you leave in the morning most probably you will arrive at the canyons around 2 or 3 afternoons.
You will not find here waterfalls, dense vegetation, forests, fields. Multi-colored clays washed out by water and wind, form a bright quaint landscape here. Running water has consumed the rock into bizarre-looking and beautifully carved formations. Extreme heat and a lack of water characterize this rough, fantasy landscape. Geologists believe that Kiin-Kerish is a unique natural monument with an area of about 300 hectares.
where to stay in Kiin-Kirish Canyon
If you want to overnight, it is not recommended to camp near the canyon due to strong winds. The winds here are so strong that can easily blow the tend. Besides, according to the tourists, the other natural disasters also can happen like very rare rains for this area begin to fall. Clay soil after rains quickly consumes would be hard to walk. It is best to set up a camp by visiting another nearby amazing place Lake Zaisan. There is a Shekelmes with a sandy beach, where you can put up tents.
There is no drinking water in the valley, so the last place where you can get water is the spring of the Kalguty village, about 65 km from Kurchum. Therefore, keep in mind to get enough water with you. Moreover, there are a lot of scorpions in the area, phalanxes roam at night these insects are not too dangerous if they are not deliberately irritated.