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Last weekend some friends and I took advantage of the long weekend to arrange a tour to the park. Tours are quite easy to arrange with any tour guide and are becoming more affordable as park fees have been reduced to just under 1000 tg for both Foreigners and for locals, so our costs included a guide, a driver, one night's stay at the ranger's station (later changed to a hotel), and food.
We drove North through poppy dotted fields and emerald sloped gorges, past the flashy casinos and blue waters of the Kapchagay reservoir before turning east toward the park. We finally arrived at the small village of Basshy, found our hotel and the ranger who was to guide us through the park (all visitors must be accompanied by a park ranger/guide).
After a quick lunch, we were off again, into the park. Once the paved part of the road turned to dirt, we picked up the pace, turning into two clouds of dust racing across the sage green plain. It would seem that freshly grated dirt is far easier to navigate than the pot-hole ridden pavement we had been on since Kapchagay.
It took us a little more than an hour to reach the dune. The singing of the dune is unusual to hear without provocation. In other words, if you wish to hear it sing you must first climb the 120+ meters of sand (plan to spend 30 to 40 minutes on this) and then charge down it, preferably in unison with as many people as you can find.
here). Another hypothesis is that that they encircled a signal fire.
After our long car ride, we weren't ready to settle down for dinner, on returning to the village so we went for a walk through the tiny town. Donkeys grazed serenely on the side of the dirt streets that were lined with homes and sheds made of mud and surrounded by sagging grey picket fences. The sky slowly turned pink by the light of a setting sun.
8:00 on the 2nd morning of our weekend trip saw us racing back
along the dirt track leading into the park. Our destination was the White mountains. After almost two hours of speeding along the road, we arrived at the White Mountains. The Mountains are really more like hills, and while they are white from one direction, they are also bright red and yellow in color. We hiked for about forty minutes along a dry riverbed of cracked red mud that curled under the hot desert sun before we reached the white cliffs near the end of the canyon.
After lunching at the really old tree (the claim is around 700 years old) and feeding a couple of mosquitos, we began the long drive back to Almaty.