The steppes of Kazakhstan’s Almaty region are not exactly the most welcoming place in winter, but an unusual phenomenon has recently attracted many tourists.
Between the villages of Kegen and Shyrganak, in the middle of a snow-covered plateau, there is a 14-meter-high ice tower, which continuously expels water that turns into ice almost instantly. The unique structure looks like a miniature volcano, only that instead of hot lava, water comes out. The sight has become popular with locals as well as Instagram fans and influencers looking for special backgrounds for their social media posts.
According to a recent Instagram post, the ice volcano is the result of an underground spring that splashes water year-round. In summer, green vegetation blooms over several tens of meters, but in winter, when temperatures drop below zero, the water freezes and the ice volcanic cone forms. It continues to spray water all around, creating a natural ice rink.
Photos and videos of the Almaty ice volcano recently went viral on social media, drawing large numbers of visitors to the otherwise barren steppes, some of whom drove several hours to see the strange natural formation in person.
Interestingly, locals say that this is the first year the volcano actually gushes water, as there has only been a smaller, empty ice cone in previous years.
“Last year there was no water spray like a fountain, just an empty cone,” the local girl Samal Zhainak told Tengri Travel.
The ice volcano is four hours from the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, formerly Astana.