Route: Karaganda Region (Kazakhstan)
Season: May - October
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1. Karaganda - Mountains Kent
Journey from Karaganda to the Kent mountains (250 km, 5 hours). Arrival and camping. Lunch in the field. Half-day excursion to the Kyzylkenysh river valley (60 km), where the so-called Kent palace (Buddhist temple of the Kazakh-Zhungar wars period) is situated, as well as the site of the ancient settlement Kent, dating back to the Bronze age. Visiting the camp of archaeologists, who do the archaeological dig of the ancient settlement also nowadays. Coming back to the camp. Dinner.
Day 2. Mountains Kent - Kassym Amanzholov village
Breakfast. Trip to Kassym Amanzholov village (50 km, 1 hour). Visiting the 40 lakes district and the abandoned gem mine (10 km, 15-min-long drive, followed by a 2-hour-long walking tour). Coming back to Kassym Amanzholov village (10 km), dinner in the guest-house or the field. Excursion (15 km, 2 hours) to the excavations of the burial mounds of the Scythian times (burial ground Taldy 2), where two burial places of warriors in gold vestments were found in 2010. Coming back to Kassym Amanzholov village, camping, dinner.
Day 3. Kasym Amanzholov village - necropolis Begazy - Shabanbay Bi village
Early breakfast. Journey from Kassym Amanzholov village to Shabanbai Bi village (160 km, 4 hours, 85 km steppe road, 75 km asphalt). Accommodation in a guest-house. Dinner. Transfer by car from Shabanbai Bi to Akshkol (18 km, 40 min). Pedestrian excursion around the Begazy – necropolis of the late Bronze age, being the most important archaeological discovery on the territory of Central Kazakhstan, as old as more than 3000 years. Trip from Akshkol to Shabanbai Bi, visiting Karatal winter hut on the way, whose hosts produce koumiss – a fermented dairy product made of mare’s milk. Show of milking the cows and koumiss tasting. Way back to Shabanbai Bi (18 km, 40 min). Dinner.
Day 4. Shabanbai Bi - peak Aksoran - cave Aulie - Shabanbay Bi
Breakfast. Journey from Shabanbai Bi to Shaban winter camp (40 km, 1.5 hours). Climbing Aksoran peak (3 hours, climb – about 600 metres) – the highest point of Sary Arka, its field of view reaches 120 kilometres. Field lunch on the top of the mountain. Descending from Aksoran peak to the glade by Auliye mountain (3 hours). Time of rest at the spring, picking mushrooms and berries. Observation of the sacred cave of Auliye. Journey from Auliye to Shabanbai Bi (7 km, 20 min). Dinner.
Day 5. Shabanbai Bi - Bektau-Ata
Breakfast in the guest house. Journey from Shabanbai Bi to the mountain range of Bektau-Ata (110 km, 3 hours) along dirt road, twisting among picturesque hills. Setting a camp in the forest at the foot of Bektau-Ata pluton.
Bektau-Ata mountain range is not very extended (4,000 ha), but it is decorated with a variety of cliffs and gorges. Thousand-years weathering processes have created here works of art - bizarre rocks of various shapes, especially beloved by photographers. Pink granite slopes of the mountain oasis look magically in the rays of the setting sun, or against the dark storm clouds. Bektau-Ata is inherently pluton, that is not erupted volcano in the words of geologists. Dozens of many kilometers cracks with frozen volcanic lava, penetrating the mountain for miles, give imagination of the scale of geologic processes that occurred millions of years ago. On one of the slopes of the mountain massif there is a legendary cave with a spring having healthy water, as people say. It is believed that the ancient Turks staged here sacrifices to Umai - the goddess of fertility and family home. In picturesque valleys between mountains you can find cool, hiding from the scorching rays of Balkhash sun in the groves of silver poplar. Bektau-Ata gorge is very different from the surrounding steppe by its flora, here hundreds of plants grow, of which 45 are rare, and 8 are in the Red Book Lunch in the field. Walk along the mountain slope, visiting the sacred cave and ascent to the top (1214 metres above sea level, 5 hours both ways, about 600 metres ascent).
Descending to the camp, dinner, overnight in the tents.
Day 6. Bektau-Ata - Balkhash Lake
Breakfast and disassembling of the camp. Journey from Bektau-Ata to Golfstream recreation zone (situated on the shore of freshwater part of Balkhash lake, 100 km, 2 hours). Visiting town of Balkhash on the way. Accommodation. Lunch. Free time for swimming and sunbathing (pebble beach). Dinner. Overnight in Golfstream recreation zone.
Balkhash Lake is the thirteenth-largest lake in the world. Despite the age-old study, the lake is still white spot and still amazes scientists with its uniqueness and mystery. Balkhash Lake is boomerang shaped. Its length exceeds 600 km and maximum width - 70 km. As the all plain lakes, its depth is small and on average only about 5 meters, maximum - 26 meters. Existence of freshwater Balkhash Lake without any runoff, in the desert, with a dry continental climate and very little rainfall – is a geographical paradox. But the main lake’s uniqueness is that its western part - flowing and fresh, and the eastern part - closed and salty, so that even fish living in different parts of the lake, is different.
Day 7. Balkhash - Karaganda
Breakfast. Trip from recreation zone "Golfstream" to Karaganda (400 km, 6 hours). Lunch on the way in a local cafe or in the field. Arrival to Karaganda. Farewell party.