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Burkhatskiy Pass
Kazakhstan Mountains & Waterfalls. Kazakhstan mountain districts

Pass Mramorniy. Rocky districts of Kazakhstan

The "Austrian Road" is famous for its beauty. Within the Katon-Karagaisky State National Nature Park, the road runs only from the southern border (Kara-Koba River) to the valley of the Bukhtarma River, which is about 60 km. However, it is one of the most impressive parts of the road, and passes through 16 bridges and fords. Its name - Austrian - which is informal, owing to the fact that it was built in the period from 1914 to 1916 by Austrian (actually Czech) prisoners of the First World War. This road can be considered as a memorial to the heroic labor of Man, who at that time managed to create this monument with only the help of simple tools - shovels and picks. These days, the Austrian road is valuable from a historical point of view, as well as being a peculiar natural monument, comprising unique memorials such as Marble pass, Marcacol lake, Altai and Burkhat passes, valley of the Kara-Koby river, etc. And, together with the Northern Branch of the Great Silk Road, passing through the valley of the Bukhtarma river, the Austrian road is a unique natural historical treasure. From Urunkhanka, moving northwards to the Tarbagatai mountain range through taiga and alpine meadows, getting over high and lowland areas, we reach the valley of the rapid mountain river, Kara-Kaby. The path climbs through a picturesque ravine, crossing the river several times over small bridges. Katon-Karagaisky NP

Welcome to Katon-Karagaisky State National Nature Park. It is the largest national park in Kazakhstan and the entire Altai-Sayansky eco-region.
Its territory is in a region which is rich in forest resources. Forests here have been little changed by economic activity and have lost few trees to forest fires. It is one of few places on Earth where native mountain cedar (Cembra pine) forests grow.

The park's territory is the only place in the Republic where several species of plants grow. Only here and in nearby regions grow such varieties as Vereschagin, Ludwig iris, and small-fruit cranberry . As a result, the park plays a leading role in the preservation of these species' gene pool.

17 species of plants are included in the "Red Book" of Kazakhstan: Steppe peony (Paeonia hybrida), Spring asphodel, (Adonis vernalis), Pink rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), Altai rhubarb (Rheum altaicum), Altai daphne (Daphne altaica), Snow (Macropodium nivale), Ludwig iris (Iris ludwigii), Siberian adder's-tongue (Erythronium sibiricum), Maral root (Rhaponticum carthamoides), Vereschagin (Limnas veresczaginii), Heteropetals tulip (Tulipa heteropetala), Small-fruit cranberry (Oxycoccus microcarpus), (Cymbaria dahyrica), Altai anthrax (Sibiraea altaiensis), Stemless (Leiospora excapa), Altai gimnospermium (Gimnospermium altaicum), and Fir club moss (Lycopodium selago); 5 of these are included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation: Steppe peony (Paeonia hybrida), Altai rhubarb (Rheum altaicum), Altai daphne (Daphne altaica), Ludwig iris (Iris ludwigii), Siberian adder's-tongue (Erythronium sibiricum).

The transition of the desert and semi-desert zonal landscapes of the Zaisan hollow into mountain ranges with a well-marked alpine belt makes for the existence of a diverse and rich composition of plant and animal life on the territory of Katon-Karagaisky SNNP. Mammals are represented by species from a variety of Asian mountain-steppe and alpine habitats. These are species which have adapted well to life under both arid desert and cold alpine climatic conditions.

The following species have been seen in Katon-Karagaisky National Park: bone fish - 11 species, amphibious animals - 2, reptiles - 4, birds - 284, mammals - 65; in total - 366 species or 96.8% of regional fauna (from the 378 species of the South and Central Altai).

Among bone fish, four of them permanently inhabit on the territory of SNNP: taimen (Hugo taimen Pallas), which is in the Red Book of Kazakhstan; lenok - local name - uskuch (Brachynystax lenok Pallas); grayling (Thymallus arcticus Pallas); and ide (Leuciscus leuciscus Linne). In the western part of the Park, in the Bukhtarma River sazan, pike, roach and other fish have been spotted, which are not typical for this region.

Among birds, 18 are likewise in the Red Book. They are: black stork (Ciconia nigra L.), hooping swan (Cygnus cygnus L.), hooked-nosed scoter (Melanitta deglandi Bonaparte), lammergeyer (Gupaetus barbatus L.), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos L.), sepulchre (Aquila heliaca Sav.), steppe eagle (Aquila rapax Temm.), erne (Heliaeetus albicilla L.), fish-hawk (Pandion haliaetus L.), peregrine (Falco peregrinus Tunst.), baloban (Falco cherrug Gray), eagle owl (Bubo bubo L.), Altai uhlar (Tetraogallus altaicus Geb.), black crane (Grus monacha Temm.), demoiselle (Anthropoides virgo L.), gray crane (Grus grus L.), and (Larus ichthyaetus Pall).

Five species of mammals have been entered in the Red Book of Kazakhstan: red wolf (Cuon alpines Pallas), stone-marten (Martes foina Erxleben), snow leopard (Uncia uncia Schreber), Altai argali - wild ram-argali (Ovis ammon ammon Linnaeus), and Ikonnikov bat (Miotis ikonnikovi Ognev). The snow leopard is the most striking representative and proud symbol of the Altai and our Nation - Kazakhstan.

As with the majority of large predators living in a specific ecological niche, in this case high mountains, the snow leopard is not a numerous species. It is rare in the Altai, as well as in the East Kazakhstan mountains. Within the boundaries of SNNP live only 12-15 individuals, including animals coming to the territory from the nearest neighborhoods.

Moving through cedar forests and alpine meadows, overgrown with bright wildflowers where snow leopards and mountain goats (tacks) roam, to Burkhat pass (2,141m); when the weather is fine, one can see a splendid panorama of Katun mountain range from the pass, crowned with sparkling double-headed mount Belukha (4,506m) - the highest point in the Altai and Siberia. Visibility is more then 100km.

From the top of the pass, steeply descending for 1,000 meters, one practically flies downhill. A bird's eye view provides amazing views of the beauty of the Bukhtarma river valley. In half an hour we are again on a good asphalted road.

Within 60km of Urunkhaika, a 4-5 hour drive, 4 hours of wonderful views are yours to be had.

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