Mapping the route of the 2018 Zhetysu expedition

For those of you who want to see the route we took on this summer’s expedition to the Zhetysu region of Eastern Kazakhstan, I am posting a couple of maps here. You can find the maps in my full report – see below – which I have updated to include them. This first map gives a general idea of the region:Zheysu map03

It shows the Zhetysu region, which is bounded by Lake Balkash in the north and Lake Ala Kul in the East. To the south it is bounded by the mountains on the border with China – the thick black line. Our route, which totalled approximately 90kms, is marked in blue.

Here is a more detailed map that also shows the rivers:
Zheysu map02

South of Ekiasha (Pokatilovka) you can see the two branches of the Bascan River and the route we took from the Little Bascan to the Big Bascan. From thereyou can see where we crossed the pass with no name over into the Solnechnaia Dalina (Sunny Valley), before making our way past the entrance to the valley where lies the Upper Zhassyl Kul lake, on to Zhassyl Kul proper and then further northwards towards the cordon building at the end of our journey.

All of this journey was in the Djungar Alatau National Park, whose headquarters are located in Sarcand, to the left of the map. Our main limitation on this journey was the fact that the guides did not think there was a safe passage from the valley of the Sarcan River to the Little Bascan river valley. That will have to wait for another time.

Full report on the 2018 Zhetysu Expedition

As promised, I am posting a link to my 28-page report of our recent expedition to the Zhetysu region of Eastern Kazakhstan. You can find a copy of the full report by clicking this link: The 2018 Zhetysu Expedition-full.

Zheysu cover02

This expedition, made with the support and assistance of the Kazakh Geographic Society, retraced part of the journey made by Thomas and Lucy Atkinson during the spring and summer of 1849, as they headed north on their way back to southern Siberia. They had spent the winter in the remote Cossack outpost of Kopal, where Lucy had given birth to their son, Alatau.

KG logo002

After leaving Kopal on 4 June, the couple, their eight-month-old baby, two Cossack guards and their Kazakh guides – together with horses, camels and oxen – decided to visit the valleys and gorges of the seven rivers that flow through the Zhetysu region towards Lake Balkash. Our intention on this trip was to visit three of these rivers: the various branches of the Bascan, the Sarcan and the Lepsy. This we achieved and all of us will remember this event forever.


I have no doubt that I will return to this wonderful region to continue exploring the routes followed by the Atkinsons and to marvel and the wonders of nature.

2018 Zhetysu Expedition: following the Atkinson trail into the Djungar Alatau Mountains

P1000378Just back from a remarkable expedition on horseback into the Djungar Alatau Mountains of Eastern Kazakhstan, following in the footsteps of the journey made by Thomas and Lucy Atkinson in the spring and summer of 1849. We were the first outsiders to visit this remote region since the Atkinsons.

I will be producing a full report on the expedition, which was organised in conjuction with the Kazakh Geographic Society. For now, here are a few pictures of this stunningly beautiful part of the world. Thanks to David O’Neill for some of these pics.

At 3200m on the Pass with No Name
Crossing the Kora River
Descending into Sunny Valley
At Zhassyl Kul lake