Destinations: Karaganda – Aktogai – Shabanbai Bi village – Auliye mountain – Akshkol village – Begazy – Karatal winter hut – Shabanbai Bi – Karaganda.
The Kyzylarai mountain and forest oasis, located in Central Kazakhstan, gives truly exclusive opportunities for a traveler. Where else can you make a journey, figuratively speaking, “3000 years back” and “1500 meters up” just within a few days? It is a place for the highest point of Sary Arka – Aksoran peak (1565 meters). Exactly these places are considered practically the only big habitat of argali on the territory of Kazakhstan. Not to mention pine forests, which grow on the granite rocks and present particular interest for scientists being the most southern place of the pine habitat in the Central Kazakhstan ecosystem, bordering upon deserted areas.
Historical heritage is also presented here in a quite interesting way: monumental granite sepulchres of Begazy and rock paintings, dating from the Bronze age, stone statues of the Turkic period and mausoleums of Kazakh-Jungar wars period. Local population has managed to preserve skills of producing articles out of felt and numerous national fermented milk products: koumiss, shubat, kurt etc. Such an amazing combination of pristine nature, ancient historical monuments and rather well-preserved way of life of the local population makes the Kyzylarai a great place to visit for those who like to explore something new and interesting for themselves.
Trip from Karaganda to Aktogay (250 km, 3,5 hours). Excursion in the archaeological and ethnographic museum in Aktogai (Mon-Fri). Trip from Aktogai to Shabanbai Bi (40 km, 1 hour). Accommodation in a guesthouse, lunch. A walk round the village and its vicinity (on request and for additional payment – on horseback). Dinner.
Breakfast. Trip from Shabanbai Bi to the northern foot of Auliye mountain (10 km, 20 min). Ascending Auliye mountain with a little lake on its top (30 min, climb – 130 m), admiring the beautiful panorama of the Kyzylarai mountain range to the south. Descending from the mountain, trekking along the eastern slope of Auliye mountain to the holy cave of Auliye (ab. 3 km, 50 min), visit to the cave. A walk back to Shabanbai bi (7 km, 1,5 hours).
Lunch. Car ride to Akshkol village ( 18 km, 40 min). Walking tour around the late-bronze necropolis of Begazy, which is considered the most important archaeological discovery in the territory of Central Kazakhstan, as old as more than 3000 years. On request – a walk around the neighboring mountains. Trip from Akshkol to Shabanbai bi, on the way – visiting the Karatal winter hut, whose hosts produce koumys – a sour drink made of mare’s milk (May-August). Koumys-testing and watching horses-milking show. Way back to Shabanbai Bi. Banya (going to bath-house) and dinner.
Breakfast. Visit to the felt studio, where one can learn about the ancient art of felt production, as well as try his/her hand at producing felt articles (masterclass). Lunch. Way back to Karaganda (290 km, 4,5 hours).
Cost per person, Kazakh tenge
1 person – ~ 587$ (195 954 KZT)
group of 2 – ~ 332$ (110 710 KZT)
group of 3 – ~ 247$ (82 295 KZT)
group of 4 – ~ 204$ (68 088 KZT)
group of 5 – ~ 178$ (59 564 KZT)
group of 6 – ~ 161$ (53 881 KZT)
The above mentioned prices include: all the journeys by all-wheel drive minibus according to the program of the tour, services of a driver and an English-speaking guide-interpreter, accommodation in guesthouses in Shabanbai Bi village (double and triple rooms available), three meals a day (in guesthouses or in the field).
The above mentioned prices do not include: visa expenses and consular fees, insurance, the price of getting to the starting point of the route (Karaganda city).