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Southern Kazakhstan
On Kazakhstan Regions. Pictures of Kazakhstan

A land with a poetic name, Zhetysu (the 'Land of Seven Rivers'), holds many mysterious secrets. For centuries, it has been a place where the trails and historical fates of many tribes cross. As a result, the Great Silk Road emerged, a large section of which ran through this land. At present, it represents a unique complex of historical, architectural, and cultural memorials.

Historically, and for many reasons, a great variety of unique sites developed on the territory of Almaty region, and this well-developed infrastructure has made it possible to create convenient tourism routes for nature lovers.

Nature of Southern Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan photos

Only 60 km from Almaty, nearby the small town of Issyk, beautiful Lake Issyk is hidden in one of the picturesque gorges of the Zhaili Alatau at a height of 1,800 m above sea level. On the 7th of July, 1963, the lake was struck by a disastrous event - a powerful mudslide destroyed this magnificent lake. Currently, Lake Issyk is being restored and will become a popular place for recreation and hiking in the near future.

Neighboring Lake Issyk is the splendid gorge of the Turgen River. It's one of the most beautiful and scenic gorges in the region. Here you can enjoy picturesque nature and waterfalls, see the famous Sacae burial-mounds dating to 1000 BC, and ancient fir groves growing on permafrost.

Among the mountain ranges of the Jungar Alatau, the Kora, Chizhe and Tekeli rivers carry their clear waters and then, joining, give birth to a new river - the Karatal. The Kora river gorge is probably one of the most scenic in the Semirechye (Land of Seven Rivers). The river rises high into the mountains, into the kingdom of eternal glaciers. Rough and relentless, squeezed between cliffs, it bears its milky water.
Nature of Southern Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan photos

Burkhan-Bulak waterfall is the biggest in Semirechye. The height of its three levels comes to 90 m. A noisy torrent containing tons of icy water rushes down, sprinkling everything around with millions of droplets.

East of Almaty, 200 km down the highway, is the breathtaking Valley of Castles in Charyn Canyon. Charyn Canyon is a long, narrow gorge, featuring steep sheer cliffs with a surging river flowing between them. Under the influence of wind and water, the sandstone rocks have assumed fanciful shapes reminiscent of exotic figures and fairy-tale characters, which is why the canyons are variously called the Valley of Castles, the Devil's Gorge and the Ghosts' Gorge.

The most scenic lakes in the mountain range of the Kungei Alatau are the Kolsai Lakes. They consist of three lakes: Lowest, Middle and Upper Kolsai. Each lake has its unique charm. Surrounded by mountain ridges, the Kolsai lakes, famous for their crystal clear waters, are a habitat for a royal fish - Rainbow Trout.

Nature of Southern Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan photos

Kaindy Lake is set in the Kungei Alatau, near the more famous Kolsai lakes. The unique nature of Kaindy lake is in the special charm and refreshing beauty of this area. The gorge itself contains a manmade birch grove, perfectly blending in with the coniferous landscape.

On the border of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China is the world famous Khan-Tengri peak (7,014m). Its dazzling beauty attracts not only climbers but also adventure travelers.

On the western spurs of the Jungar Alatau ridge is Altyn-Emel National Park, the biggest reserve in Kazakhstan. An area of 460,000 hectares is protected for the preservation of rare species of animals and plants. Here you can enjoy a view of the unique colored mountains and the white mountains of Aktau, as well as the sand mountains of Katutau, where the fossils of mammals and dinosaurs are occasionally found. The Park accommodates several historical memorials - the Scythian burial mounds of Bes-Shatyr dating back to the 1st millennium BC, and Tamgaly-Tas, featuring over 4,000 ancient petroglyphs, the earliest dating back to the 16th-14th centuries BC. Here, on the right bank of the Ili River, is the Singing Dune, which emits low organ-like sounds in sunny weather.

Kazakhstan is a land of ancient civilizations. Since time immemorial, its inhabitants have been creating an outstanding and original culture. Today the administrative, cultural and industrial center of the Southern region is Shymkent, the third largest city in Kazakhstan (420,000 people). South Kazakhstan Region is famous mostly for its historical memorials - burial mounds, sites of ancient settlements, fortresses, mausoleums and ancient towns.

Unique is the architecture and history of the ancient town of Turkestan (16th-18th centuries), the political, trade and cultural center of the Kazakh Khanate. The elegance and beauty of the Esim-khan mausoleum is striking, as is the complex of a Sufi advocate - Hodja Ahmed Yassaui (a town until the 16th c.) and sultan Ondan's mausoleum as well.

Nature of Southern Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan photos

Where semi-desert and the Kyzylkum desert meet, on the Kyzylkum river, the town of Arys is located. According to the latest archeological data, this area contains classic artifacts from the agricultural and cattle-breeding cultures of South Kazakhstan - the ancient settlement of Zhuantobe (the Arys river basin) and the Borizhar burial ground.

South Kazakhstan Region is rich not only in its historical memorials but also in the unique and wonderful nature of the Western Tien-Shan. The Aksu-Jabagly Natural Reserve features unique archa forests, lush alpine meadows, deep streams and rivers, and rugged cliffs on its territory of over 850 sq. km. Over 1,400 types of flowering plants grow here. Nature of Southern Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan photos

Many of them are included in the International Red Book. The reserve is habitat for over 238 species of birds and 42 species of mammals, many of which are also close to extinction (Egyptian vulture, berkut, black stork, blue bird, brown bear, arkhar, paradise flycatcher, snow leopard, Central Asian lynx and others.)

Among the natural treasures of the region, remarkable for their unique beauty, are the Burgulyk Gorge, lakes Kyzyl-kol and Balyktin, fed by two powerful underground springs, the Akbiik karst cave with stalactite and stalagmite galleries extending towards an underground lake, and the Kelte-Mashat Gorge - a 10km long canyon featuring the unique natural attraction - the Crying Cave. The Karatau mountains themselves contain some of the world's most interesting vegetation.

The Tyulkubas administrative area of South Kazakhstan draws in visitors with such activities as trekking, rafting, hunting, fishing, educational tourism, bird watching and folklore tours, horseback riding, etc.

On the banks of the Keles river is the town of Sary-Agach, famous throughout Central Asia for its mineral springs, recreational zones and resorts.

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