The Charyn Canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon in the United States. The beautiful colours from deep red to light brown and the erratic rock formations ensure that this Kazakh landmark can be seen as the little brother of the Grand Canyon. Here too, wind and water erosion gave the canyon beautiful shapes and colorful sculptures. The Charyn Gorge is approximately 90 kilometers long and is part of Charyn National Park, which was established in 2004.
The river Sharyn is flowing into the canyon and helped shape the beautiful rock formations. It flows from the Tian Shan mountains, is about 400 kilometers long and in some places is more than 150 meters deep. The river eventually flows down into the Kapchagai reservoir. Adventurers can go canoeing and rafting on the river. However, this activity may only be done by the more experienced rafters among us, as the difficulty of rafting on this river is quite high. However, no panic! A more peaceful activity that you can also do on the river is fishing.
Another way to discover the beauty of the canyon from the water is to walk through it. A hike starts from the National Park parking lot and takes you past beautiful viewpoints. There is the ‘Dolina Zamkov’ or ‘Valley of the castles’ where unusual rock formations can be seen over a distance of three kilometers and a depth of up to 100 meters. Still other parts of the canyon were given names that refer to witches or ghosts because over time , the rocks were shaped strange figures. The Charyn Canyon consists out of five different gorges: the Valley of the Castles, the Temirlik gorge, the Yellow gorge, the Red gorge and the Bestamak gorge. The Valley of the Castles is by far the most popular.
The ash tree as the central player of the Charyn Canyon
According to various sources, the name of the river Sharyn comes from the word ‘sharyn’ which means ‘ash (the tree)’ in Uyghur. Other sources think that the name might comes from the word of Turkish origin ‘char’, which litteraly means “abyss” Both explanations are possible for this canyon, which is characterized by steep chasms, but also by ash trees that grow nearby. The ‘Relic Forest’, for example, which is about 20 kilometers from the canyon, consists mainly out of ash trees. You will also find willows, poplars and the barberry tree.