“You love one city or another because of the feelings and emotions you had experienced there but it has nothing to do with the city itself,” – said sensual Marlene Dietrich. Apparently, Frau Dietrich preferred urban vacation, but her words are true for any corner of the Earth which is special for you.
Especially for the readers of SKY Magazine, we have prepared a selection of five extraordinary places in Kazakhstan for an unforgettable trip.
Even those people who have been living in this country all their lives have a lot to discover about some of the most amazing places in Kazakhstan. One of them is Lake Kaindy located in one of the gorges of Kungei Alatau130 km from Almaty.
This is a relatively young lake, which was formed as the result of the earthquake in 1910. The lake is located 2,000 km above the sea level. It is 400 meters long with deepest part being 21 meters. “Kaindy” in Kazakh means «full of birch-trees.” The reason for this name is a birch grove five kilometers away. But the lake is famous for the trunks of fir trees rising above the surface.
The lake water is very cold, but in spite of this, the lake is popular among enthusiastic divers. Fir branches and needles did not decompose and remained on the flooded trees, creating a unique mystical underwater world in which the only inhabitant of Kaindy – the trout, lives. This fish was introduced to the young lake in 1930s. Lake Kaindy and mostly the river flowing into it is a great spot for trout fishing. Kaindy is a perfect place for those who love to hike in the mountains. It has everything to win the hearts of travelers: mountain forests, fresh air and a clear blue lake.
The next place on a must-visit list is famous for its unusual shape Sherkala mountain, which is located 170 km from the city of Aktau. The mountains shape is so remarkable that it looks different to different people. Members of our editorial board, for example, state that it looks like an extraterrestrial cosmic mountain, belonging to the landscape of Mars or Venus. Other people say that the mountain resembles a huge white yurt, the national value of the Kazakh people. Others see a majestic lion sleeping. The latter are not far from the truth: in Turkic “Sherkala” means «a lion castle».
Sherkala is a legendary mountain. It used to be a fortress guarding the caravan routes of the Silk Road in the Middle Ages. Sherkala Mountain is located between the central and western systems of ridges of Karatau, in the northern part of the mountain Akmyshtau. An aura of legend surrounds the mountain. The local old-timers warn you that it is difficult to climb, it is even more difficult to climb down, and no-one can ever enter the cave – it is inhabited by spirits. Sherkala is Mount Sphinx, capricious and does not tolerate the curious onlookers. It is considered one of the Mangystau shrines.
Near Sherkala it is possible to come across a green oasis which includes a small spring and river Akmish. Here you can sit in the shade of old trees under the sonorous trills of birds, listening to the story of the settlement of Mangyshlak.
For your information: Sherkala mountain is displayed on 1000 tenge banknote.
THE ARAL SEA
Another unusual and not fully explored tourist destination in Kazakhstan is the Aral- an endorheic salt lake. Not long ago, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake in the world, famous for its rich natural resources, and the Aral Sea region was considered a prosperous area and biologically rich natural environment. However, due to irrational human activities the sea lost three- quarters of the water volume and the surface area decreased by more than a half. Over 33 thousand square kilometers of the seabed were subjected to desertification. The coastline retreated by 100-150 kilometers. Water salinity increased 2,5 times. The sea itself was divided into two parts- the Large Aral and the Small Aral. The tourists, who dare to visit the Aral Sea, will be able to see firsthand the landscape changes that have occurred over the past decade. Stroll through the old port, which no longer hears the noise of waves, wander among the rusted skeletons of ships, once that cut the waves of the Aral Sea, see the sun reflected in the many kilometers of salt marshes, that not so long ago, were the bottom of an ancient seabed.
The Aral Sea is a place for caring tourists, who are interested in unknown lands, a variety of landscapes and a mystery that our land keeps.
The pride of East Kazakhstan – Katon-Karagay state national park and Markakol reserve. Beautiful unspoiled nature of this region is diverse: mountain peaks and clear lakes, lush emerald forests and subalpine meadows, fast flowing rivers and scary silent rocks. The treasures of this place are Lake Markakol Belukha and Berkutaul, Rakhmanov (hot springs). Animal world of this amazing area is rich and diverse. The forests are inhabited by brown bears, moose, lynx, sable, ermine, rare red wolf, and many others. Katon-Karagay is attractive not only for the beauty of nature. This place is also known for its healing capabilities. Pantotheraphy is an effective method against a variety of ailments, and Rakhmanov hot water helps in diseases of the upper respiratory tract, anemia. In addition, there are healing properties of pure air and beautiful nature.
East Kazakhstan is a place where one wants to come back again and again in search of spiritual and physical health.
The next stop for the traveler who is indifferent to the unusual things in Kazakhstan may be the ancient city of Taraz, which is on the south of the country. Taraz has a huge history of more than 2000 years. For centuries the city had remained the most important center of nonferrous metallurgy. Local craftsmen were high artists in forging and casting. You can see a ceremonial cauldron famous in mausoleum of Ahmed Yassavi in Turkestan as an example of their art.
Karl Baipakov, the doctor of historical sciences, is convinced that Taraz will soon become a Mecca of tourism. This city has an ancient history. There are well-known objects of medieval architecture such as the mausoleum of Karahan, mausoleums Babaji Khatun (X-XI centuries.) and Aisha-Bibi (XI-XII centuries). There is a unique monument Akyrtas combining features of the Arab East and medieval Kazakhstan. Many historical monuments are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In addition, there are ongoing excavations in Taraz that discover new historical values everyday. There was discovered medieval citadel- the residence of the rulers, the palace complex and a part of Shakhristan – a complex of Sak royal burial mounds.