Almaty’s Shymbulak Ski Resort Secures Top Five Winter Destinations in Condé Nast Italia

ASTANA –  The Shymbulak Mountain Resort’s tourist potential gained recognition in Condé Nast Italia, the Italian edition of the renowned magazine. It was ranked among the top five places in the world that winter sports enthusiasts should visit, reported the Ministry of Culture and Sports’ press service on Jan. 16.

The Shymbulak ski resort. Photo credit: Click to see the map in full size. The map is designed by The Astana Times.

The list includes the Troll Peninsula in Iceland, Mount Denali in Alaska, Kazbegi in Georgia, and Zao Onsen Ski Resort in Japan. 

According to the publication, the Shymbulak Ski Resort, situated just a half-hour drive from Almaty city, is renowned for its legendary atmosphere and modern comfort. The editorial strongly recommends not to miss the après-ski experience.

Location and history of the resort

The Shymbulak Mountain Resort, located in the picturesque gorge of Trans-Ili Alatau at an altitude of 2,260 meters above sea level, was established in 1954. Since the mid-1950s, Shymbulak has served as the training base for Soviet skiers and has hosted championships in the USSR and Kazakhstan. In its early years, before the construction of chairlifts and gondolas, athletes ascended on foot, taking about three hours. Over time, the resort added cable cars, hotels, a Finnish sauna, and restaurants. Since 1983, Shymbulak has been the Soviet Olympic Center for ski training.

Night skiing slope. Photo credit: The resort’s Instagram page.

The resort underwent significant reconstruction in 2011 in preparation for the Winter Asian Games. The total length of the tracks nearly tripled, and snow cannons were installed to extend the season, allowing for an earlier start and later end. Nowadays, operating year-round with ten lifts, the resort boasts a track length of 25 kilometers.

Main features

It features seven dining establishments, two hotels (one directly on the mountain slope), a ski shop, and a service and repair workshop. To reach the highest point of Shymbulak, visitors can take a modern cable car starting 800 meters from the Medeo rink. The first section leads to the lower point of Shymbulak’s ski slopes, housing ski, snowboard, and equipment rentals, snack bars, and restaurants. The second section takes you roughly to the middle of the track, where you can begin your descent or transfer to the third section, leading to Shymbulak’s highest point, the Talgar Pass.

Photo credit: The resort’s Instagram page.

Another notable feature of the resort is limited transportation access. Private vehicles, unless electric, are not permitted to reach the place. Visitors have the option of using an eco-bus, eco-taxi, or cable car to access Shymbulak. The one-way trip from Medeo to Shymbulak starts at 1,500 tenge ($3), with prices varying depending on the day of the week, cabin type, and final destination. Opting for a shuttle bus will cost 700 tenge ($1.5) for a one-way journey.

Hiking enthusiasts can reach the ski resort on foot. Despite the steep ascent, the walk rarely poses challenges for tourists, as the total length of the route is 7 kilometers.

For those willing to climb the steps to the dam and then follow the trail beyond it, the route can be shortened. In this case, the overall length of the path will be reduced to 4 kilometers.

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