Visiting Tau Dastarkhan – a charming holiday resort that forms a convenient gateway to the Ile Alatau National Park – couldn’t be simpler as it’s just a 30 minute drive from central Almaty. The Tau House hotel offers comfortable, well-priced accommodation in an idyllic setting at the foothills of the Zailiysky Alatau Mountains; and with five restaurants on-site – including the seriously good Georgian restaurant Avlabar – plus a spa, swimming pool and sports facilities, we wouldn’t blame you for not venturing far outside the resort’s confines. Those that do head off for a stroll or even a heavy-duty hike will be rewarded, though, as the surrounding landscape is wild and beautiful. Close to the entrance of the national park is the Sunkar Falcon Centre, home to a selection of scary-looking birds of prey. It’s a couple of hundred tenge to look around and it holds daily bird displays in summer.