Sometimes spelt Chimbulak (don’t get confused!), this is the Almaty ski resort and is a great place to come at all times of year. Conveniently located just 25 minutes from Almaty, it currently boasts the best skiing facilities Kazakhstan has to offer and is also a wonderful base for hiking in summer. A new gondola can take you from Medeu all the way to the resort, making getting there very easy and quick. In winter it is often overcrowded at weekends as its slopes are the place to be, with what seems like all of Almaty’s residents ascending the mountain. Although still a small resort, the piste offers variety, with various different possible routes for getting from top to bottom keeping most skiers and snowboarders entertained for at least a weekend. A new piste on the other side of the mountain is planned for winter 2012, just the beginning of an extensive development programme. From the Talgar Pass at 3,613m to the main lodge at 2,260m, the resort offers a respectable vertical drop of nearly 1,000m, with magnificent views of Almaty and the Kazakh steppe as you descend. Once back at the resort, a Line Brew, Assorti and Marrone Rosso offer the perfect dining and drinking solutions for a bit of après-ski. There is also night skiing on a regular basis with DJs providing extra entertainment. The Shymbulak website and Facebook page are a good source of information for weather conditions and latest events. The season at Shymbulak runs from approximately November to April, depending on snow. Good skis, boots and snowboards can be hired within the resort for about $50 a day. Renting your equipment in Almaty is much cheaper however (particularly season-long hire) and we recommend Extremal (see Cycling) on the way up to Shymbulak, which also sells cross-country skis and skates.
rnRecommended by our resident travel writers Elisabeth and Isabelle.“