The fast-flowing Charyn river, a tributary of the Ile (which is a big river itself), forms an attractive canyon some 80 km in length during its northward journey from its headwaters in the Tian Shan Mountains across the arid semi-desert east of Almaty. The depth of the canyon reaches as much as 300 m. it is sort of a miniature version of the Grand Canyon located in the USA.
It is said that the place is very similar to the surface of planet Mars. That is why people often talk about martian landscape. Indeed, the canyon gives an impression of something extraterrestrial. It is one of the unique places on planet Earth which can give such an experience. If one is into natural sciences (especially geology), then there are plenty of layers of earth to be studied and examined.
As for modern facilities at the canyon, there are parking lot, open air cars to carry passengers, shelters such as Kazakh style nomadic yurts and bungalows, a cafe, picnic camps, etc. Plus a strong noisy mountain river is flowing at the bottom of the canyon. Long ago it was the reason why the canyon formed.
The area is situated 210 km away from Almaty. The quality of the road is superb. It takes around 3 hours to reach the destination.