NATIONAL PARKS OF KAZAKHSTAN

Altyn-Yemel

Altyn-Yemel is the state national natural reserve in the Ily river valley in Almaty region of Kazakhstan. Altyn-Yemel includes the northern part of Kapshagai water storage reservoir, mountains Small and Big Kalkans, Aktau, Katautau, south-western spurs of Dzungarian Ala Tau (Sholak, Degeres, Matai), southern slope of Altyn-Yemel and the part of Koyandytau, including the intermountain valley Konyrolen. The park was arranged on April 10, 1996. The purpose of this park is to preserve the unique natural complex, archeological and historical and cultural monuments, rare and endangered species of plants and animals, ecological tourism development. Total protected area of the park (including a buffer zone) makes up 520.2 thousand ha. Park area includes mountain, sand desert, crushed stone-clay-and-desert landscape complexes. Park flora includes around 1,800 types of plants, of which 21 types were registered in the Red Book of Kazakhstan, around 60 types are endemic and rare forms of Dzungar Ala Tau and Ily-Balkhash basin. Altyn-Yemel is one of some places in the country with goitered gazelles, argali, goats Tau-Teke and koulans. Koulans had lived here for ages, but were completely eliminated by 70s of the XX century. However, in 1978, 23 koulans were brought in. Today, around 700 rare animals live in the park. One more rare animal, the Przewalski's horse, has disappeared from Kazakhstan in the century before the last, and from the wild nature in the second half of last century. By present time, wild horses have been preserved only in some world zoos. In 2003, in order to recover the species in wild nature, several horses were brought from Germany. Now they have already found legs. The name Altyn-Yemel has Mongol roots and is translated as the “golden saddle”. According to the legend, in summer in 1219, Genghis Khan’s troops moved through this valley to conquer Central Asia. After seeing the mountains covered with yellowed grass at sunset, the Grand General exclaimed: “Golden saddle!”. If you look closer, the passage Altyn-Yemel actually resembles a saddle. Altyn-Yemel is famous for its natural and historical monuments. The most famous sights of the park are the Singing Barkhan 1.5 km long and up to 130 m high; clay mountains are cut with canyons - Aktau; Katautau, these are the mountains formed with volcanic rocks. The park Altyn-Yemel is the real pearl of the Asian continent, which has no analogues in the world.

Bayanaul

Bayanaul state national natural park is situated in the south of Pavlodar region. The area is among special protected regions of the country. The park was founded in 1985; it became the national park. The purpose of Bayanaul natural park is the need to restore and preserve flora and fauna of Bayanaul mountain group. Park area makes up 68,453 ha. Park flora is diverse, since it is presented with forest, meadow and forest-steppe zones. In total, there are 460 types of plants in the park. It is not really customary for a semidesertic steppe. Special types are the common alder and Bayanaul pine (mainly, it grows on the rocks). The birch, aspen, pine, alder, including the brier, raspberry, whitethorn, currant grow here. There is lots of strawberry, mushrooms and relict plants, of which there are 50 types. In the park, there are 40 species of animals and 50 types of birds. Of large value are the roe, squirrel, badger, argali, listed in the Red Book as the endangered species. Widespread types of birds are the crane, egret, swan, and the predators – the kite, golden eagle, kestrel. Bayanaul is the beloved place for tourists, since there are many rest houses and different sights in the park. Tourists can swim, climb the rocks, do rambling, cycling. Major sights of the park include the Holy Cave, Stone Head and other, main lake for swimming is Dzhasybai. For the guests and visitors, interesting are some rocks and cliffs shaped by nature as fancy people, animals, plants and objects.

Burabai

On the North of Kazakhstan, in Akmola region, there is a marvelous place, the real oasis among the steppes. It is the Borovoye (Burabai). Since 2000, it is deemed as the national natural park. For its beauty, the number of lakes, plants and animal world, people call this place as the Kazakh Switzerland. Kokshetau mountains occupy the center of Kokshetau highlands, maximum height is 947 m above sea level. Over the surrounding steppe, this chain forms the mountain landscape for several hundred meters, composed of unstratified rock, and crowned with sharply-sloped backs and peaks, covered with pine and birch forests. Affected by the sun, water, wind, crust movements for millions of years, they have acquired unusual shapes that resemble animals, fairy heroes, and ruins of castles and forts. Borovoye is the land of sanatoriums, rest and recreation, rest houses, sports and recreation camps. Borovoye is famous in sports as well. Annually, it hosts international competitions in triathlon, ski racings, orienteering, rock climbing. The lake Borovoye is a favorite place for rest, boating, catamarans. The lake is famous for its picturesque environment. If you go around the lake, it is 12 km, there is the unique nature monument at the head of the river Gromovaya (thunder), the “dancing” birch grove, which name appeared from fancy bended trunks. East shore of the lake is a sand beach, the best place for swimming, and rest. Lake shore is decorated with the grand cliff Okzhetpes (in translation it means “an arrow will not reach”), which peak is shaped as a lying elephant. Its height is over 300 m above sea level. There were more than 16 legends and stories made up about this cliff. At the foot of Okzhetpes, the cliff Zhumbaktas runs 18 m high from the Blue Bay (the Puzzle). From the neck between the lakes Borovoye and Big Chebachye, there is a magnificent panoramic view. The mountain Kokshetau (Sinyukha) is perfectly observed from here, one can see the mountains Burabai (the Camel), Zheke-Batyr (the Sleeping Knight). There are legends about every mountain, gorge, valley and single rock in Borovoye, every such legend reflects the life of people of old times. Everyone will find the rest to his liking! In Borovoye, one can walk while admiring surrounding landscape and breathing in the air of pine wood. In spring, the valleys are covered with snowdrops, in summer, forests are rich with strawberry and mushrooms. You can swim in clean lakes, go boating and on catamarans, climb rocks... we should note that neither mosquitos nor other blood-sucking flies will spoil your rest – there is nothing of it here.

Ile-Alatau

Ile-Alatau state national natural park was opened in 1996. The park is situated on the northern slopes of Zailiskiy Alatau in proximity to the southern capital, Almaty. Its length from the river Chemolgan on the west and to the river Turgen in the east, makes up 120 km, and across it reaches 30 km. Park area is 202,292 ha. Major tasks and objectives of the national park are to protect and restore the unique natural complexes, and at the same time, to provide a diverse outdoor rest for people. National park is located within the absolute heights from 600 up to 5 thousand meters above sea level. Major park nature includes picturesque forests of Shren’s fir-tree and small-leaved Almaty Apple, hawthorn, wild apricot, Tien Shan rowan-tree and other timber and shrubby species. The park is unique in its natural properties and esthetical peculiarities. It is really amazing, since for one day, one can travel for several thousand kilometers from the Kazakh steppe to Arctic, while admiring the unique row of vertical landscape zones: from hot low-mountain semi-deserts and dry steppes to cool Alpine meadows, tundra and cold snowy scars. There are several nature monuments in the park. They are unique and valuable in environmental, scientific and esthetic terms. They include Chinturgen Spruce Forests left from the Great Ice Age. It is a dense moss fir taiga with everfrost zones. And highland lakes – Big Almaty, Bozkol and Akkol; gushy and noisy waterfalls Kairak and Medvezhiy (Bear); fancy silent stone gletchers in snowy valleys of the rivers Archaly and Ozernaya; grand glaciers Tuyuk-Su, Dmitriyev’s and Constitution. There are several archeological objects of historical and cultural legacy of people of Kazakhstan in the park. They include burial mounds of the early Iron era in Turgen gorge, burial mounds on the plateau Assy, Saks mounds on the shores of the river Yesik (Issyk), and medieval ancient towns Talkhiz and Turgen. Park animal world is rich and diverse. More than 1500 species of invertebrates and 213 species of vertebrates live here. Some types of invertebrates among butterflies are listed in the Red Book, for example, the swallowtail, Tien Shan apollo butterfly, rite swallowtail and other. More widespread in the forests and open space are the elk deers, roes, and upper in rocks – the Siberian goat. Predators include the Asiatic wild dog, snow leopard listed in the International Red Book, manul cat, Central Asian trot, Tien Shan brown bear and beech marten; hoofed animals include: the argali and the large southern rodent – Indian crested porcupine. Along Zailiskiy Alatau there is the ancient road, where back in the ages, the famous Great Migration occurred from Asia to Europe, and later the Silk Trade Way appeared.

Karkaralinsk

Karkaralinsk state national natural park is in the center of the country. It was created in 1988 to preserve and restore the unique natural complex. Its area includes low mountains, several lakes and rivers. Plant life in Karkaralinsk mountains and forests is diverse. Relict plants grow in its area: aspen, cherry, pine, raspberry, bottlebrush, wintergreen and other, including endemic types: Karkaralinsk wheat, Karkaralinsk berberry, sharp-lobed toadflax, Karkaralinsk wheatgrass, Karkaralinsk campion. The Red Book of Kazakhstan includes such species as the berberry, droop tulip, steppe peon, thin poppy and other. Animal world in the park is also interesting and rich, almost 190 species. Such predators like: the fox, wolf, manul, corsac, common weasel, tort, steppe polecat, weasel, live here. The booted eagle, Ignatov minnow, argali, black stork, golden eagle, Orsini's viper, are listed in the Red Book. Predominant are the missel bird, spotted woodpecker, cuckoo, great tit, blackcock, chaffinch. Natural resources of the region, its unique beauty make it an attractive place for rest both for Kazakh people and for the visitors.

Kokshetau

State national natural park Kokshetau is located within Zerenda district, Akmola region and Aiyrtau district, North-Kazakhstani region. Its area is 134,511 ha. National park occupies the area of low mountain group of Kokshetau highland on the north-west of Kazakh Upland. State national natural park Kokshetau was founded in 1996, to preserve mountain and forest landscapes and unique nature objects, to develop tourism and improve rest of people. The reserve and its localities contain many beautiful lakes – Zerenda, Imantau, Shalkar and other. Major rivers are Tersbutak, Chaglinka, Zhabai, Babykburluk. Mountain slopes are rich with temporary streams, one can see springs and wallows down there. Lakes have pure fresh water, excluding Shalkar that is famous for its medicinal water with low concentration of salt. The lake Shalkar is the favorite place for Russians who come here for summer. Forests are rich with berries and mushrooms. Forests and lakes of the region are under protection and are included in the National Park Kokshetau. Plant and animal world is rich and diverse. Forests are the habitat for the moose, deer, boar, wolf and many other animals. There is much fish in the lakes, of such valuable species as European cisco, cisco. Plant and animal world of the park is a rare symbiosis between flora and fauna of different eras and latitudes. Ancient lichens and ferns grow under modern timber and scrub plants. Animals typical for the Siberian taiga, like the moose, tort, pine marten, white hare, ermine, live next to the habitants of southern steppes and semi-deserts – the corsac, ground squirrel, European hare, steppe polecat, steppe marmot. State national natural park Kokshetau has 13 nature monuments of national significance, among them - Raspberry Mull, Imantau Lake Island, Green Mull, the bald peak Pozharnaya (fire) and other, there are also many monuments of archeology, history, architecture. In Syrymbet aul, as a wooden architectural monument of the XIX century, the family farm of the great scientist and educator Shokan Valikhanov was reconstructed. The unique monument of ancient Andronian culture with the area of 15 ha is located in the stow Botai, Aiyrtau region. Objects found in its cultural layer suppose that it is a place where more than 5 thousand years ago, wild horse accustoming was started. Botai is protected by UNESCO.

Katon-Karagai

Katon-Karagai state national natural park is located on the slope of the highest Altai peak – mountain Belukha, the chain Lisvyaga and high uplands between the rivers Bukhtarma and Bereli. Katon-Karagai state national natural park was founded by the Government Resolution of Kazakhstan in July 2011. It is the largest special protected natural area in Kazakhstan, its area is 643,477 ha. To the south, beyond the valet of Bukhtarma, there are south-Altai mountain chains: South Altai (the highest point is Dzhagyrtau – 3,871 m), Tarbagatai (Crystal mountain – 3,094 m) and Sarymsakty (Berkutaul – 3,373 m). All mountain chains extend to east-west direction and show the expressed slopes asymmetry – northern slopes steeply break to the river valleys, and southern slopes are much flatter and extended. For Katon-Karagai state national natural park, on July 3, 2003, the Government of Kazakhstan was awarded the Certificate “A Gift to the Earth” by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It confirms the right policy of Kazakhstan in expanding and creating the network of special protected natural zones while preserving biodiversity of our country and the planet. National park hosts the following nature and culture monuments: the mountain Belukha, the lake Yazevoe (Karakol), the waterfall Kokkol, the waterfall Yazevoy, the waterfall Arasan, Rakhmanov springs, the mine Kokkol, Berelsk mounds, the Austrian road, northern branch of the Great Silk Way.

Charyn

State national natural park Charyn was founded in 2004 in the river valley of Charyn at the edge of Uighur and Yenbekshi and Kazakh districts of Almaty region. Park with the total area of 93,150 ha is located in the center of Ily intermountain basin, 193 km away from Almaty. It includes a canyon-shaped valley and fan delta of the river, adjacent deserts of Syugatinsk valley and low-mountain range Ulken-Boguty, and the steppe sections in upper valley and on the slopes of Toraigyr. Valley of the river Sharyn is the unique place of the remains of prehistoric flora and fauna. Sharyn is the largest Ily feeder in Kazakhstan, its length is 393 km. Sharyn is the mountain river. The park is rich with either unique nature objects and complexes, or with historical and cultural legacy. In this respect, burial grounds and mounds are of interest. Burial mound are the ground or underground burial places with a mound over it. The park is attractive in any season: in spring, the air is full of blooming medicinal herbs odors, in summer, one can hide in the shadow of the relict ash tree, in fall, one can admire bright colors of red ripe barberry, in winter, one can watch floes floating on the water like grand snowy peaks “The Valley of Castles”, and beautiful capricious predatory birds.

Zhongar-Alatau

Zhongar-Alatau state national natural park is in the center of Eurasia, to the east of Almaty region. As an administrative unit, the park occupies three districts of Almaty region – Aksu (regional center is the village Zhansugirov), Sarkand (the city Sarkand) and Alakol (the city Usharal). The park lies on the main chain Zhetysu (Zhongar) Alatau, stretching from west to east for around 300 km. Total area is 356,022 ha. The highest point – the peak Semenov-Tien-Shan at a height of 4,622 m above sea level is located here. The park is the habitat of rare and endangered species listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan: 12 types of plants: pale hazel grouse, Tien Shan adonis, Altai gymnosperium, Semenov marbled brown, Asian wild apple, bird beak astragal, whole leaf Dzungarian, Dzungar gentian, thyme-leaved speedwell, groundsel, Saussurea covered, Rhaponticum carthamoides (carthamoid rhapontic); 2 types of amphibians: Central Asian (Siberian) frog, danatinsk toad; at least, 6 types of nestling birds: black stork, booted eagle, golden eagle, beard grass, balaban, eagle owl, vulture; 6 types of mammals: Tien Shan brown bear, beech marten, manul, Turkestan tort, snow leopard, Tien Shan argali, listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. The park is rich with either unique nature objects and complexes, or with historical and cultural legacy. The national park has: the burial ground Uigentas in the gorge Uigentas on the right bank of the river Tentek, burial mounds in the river valley of Saysamkty, at north-west slopes of Karaagash, on the passage Koktobe (1814 m), in mountains Zhunzhurek, rock carvings in Karypcha gorge, to the south from Inili, 7 km away from the town Samarkand, on the left bank of the river Baskan, there are pictures of wild animals and ancient inscriptions. Thus, the park provides exceptional conditions for both local and international tourism, which program is based on the unique natural peculiarities of the national park, combined with visits to archeological and cultural monuments, to study the history of our people and our natural wealth.