General info for a documentary shooting

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airlinedlx
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General info for a documentary shooting

Post by airlinedlx »

Hi,

My name is Steeve I'm from a team of 12 filmmakers from France who will be going to Kazakhstan in April-May 2020 for an environmental documentary covering saiga conservation, the aral sea, and the history of Kazakhstan, and we're trying to plan the shooting as much as possible, but we still have a lot of questions.
Since there are quite a lot of them, and covering a wide range of subjects, I'll try to group them by region/subject etc.

First off, the main goal of the shooting is mostly to try and see as much wildlife as possible, with the main focus on the saiga, but the more the merrier! Which is why I'm posting, any intel or contacts regarding wildlife will be appreciated!
We will have 3 teams in rental cars for a month each. One will be based around Almaty, going to Altyn Emel NP, Ile Alatau, Kaindy lakes, Ungirtas etc, the second one will be around Astana, focused on the saiga with the ACBK association, and the last one will be the wandering one, starting either in Astana and Almaty, and driving all the way to the Aral sea, stopping in Ulytau, Aksu Zhabagly, old ruins, etc.

Alright so here come the questions:


Regarding the aral sea:
- Would you say it is worth driving all the way and back to the Aral Sea from Astana or Almaty, or is there a better alternative? Apart from Ulytau, or Aksu Zhabagly, there doesn't seem to be much on the way, although for us those two stops are very important.
- for those who drove through whole areas of steppe, is there any wildlife to be easily seen generally speaking? Apart from saigas, which are quite easily scared from what we've been told because of poaching (although getting better), is that your experience?
- What would you say is a reasonable driving time from Almaty/Astana to the Aral sea?
- Would it be truly be worth going to the Ouzbekistan side of the aral sea? There seems to be more ships, are there that many more ships that we absolutely must go?

General info:
- How hard is it to find gas in the country once you get off the main roads/towns? For example, there doesn't seem to be much between the Aral Sea and Astana, and since we will be looking for wildlife, we might drive a fair bit off the main itineraries, we wonder how rare gas is away from cities?


Regarding Almaty's mountains (Ile Alatau, Kolsai lakes etc):
- How much snow is left by April/May?
- Are roads negotiable in that period?
- Any experience on wildlife? we've seen footage of deers and wild goats, but not many mentions of them on trip reports.
- When do they bring the horses back to the summer pastures around almaty?
- I've been told by the rental company that they won't let us drive to the Assy Plateau, is the road that bad? Is there an alternative?

Regarding wildlife:
- Has anyone seen elks/wapitis in Kazakhstan? I can't seem to find much information about them, apart from hunting trips.
- Has anyone been to the Bird ringing station in Aksu Zhabagly in spring? How was your experience? Would a one week stay be too much?

Regarding Ulytau:
- How hard is it to find balbal? Would we need a guide?

Regarding general safety:
- has anyone had anything stolen from their car in Kazakhstan? We will have quite a lot of video/drone gear, and we won't be able to take all of it with us when going shooting on foot, is it dangerous to leave stuff in the car? (I know this a hard question to answer)

Regarding Ustyurtregion:
- This seems to be a secret, but does anyone know who we could contact to hope to film the desert kites of the Ustyurt region? We have a separate shooting planned for this region, do most guides in Aktau know where to find them?
- We would most likely fly to Aktau and rent a car there, any recommandations?

That's it for now, sorry for the long post!

Obviously I don't think anybody will be able to answer every single question but any help will be greatly appreciated!
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steven
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by steven »

For saiga, you should get in touch with ASBK: http://www.acbk.kz/

Aral Sea: the roads are good, so it's no problem. If you want boats, go to Uzbekistan, but you can do other things in Kazakhstan, just talk to Serik, I assume you have his contacts already, he is a very experienced fixer, worked with all the tv stations in the world, BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, Pink Floyd, etc... For camera crews, there is more to shoot: the dam, the planted saxaul trees, a bit of fishing. Uzbekistan is just desert (bit of gas exploration and aquaculture), that is it.

Petrol is easy to find.

Wildlife: eagles are easy. Everything else you better ask ASBK for help. Wolves should be easy with a guide.

Almaty: only above 3000m snow is left. Roads are easy. I have seen a deer (once), lots of birds, not much else. My friend saw a snow leopard in Dzhungar Alatau once. Never seen a bear in Almaty. Horses to pasture: end of June.

Aksu-Zhabagly is better imo: easy to see wildlife (bears, goats, a lot of birds, wolves), Svetlana is a very good guide, you have the tulips there,...

elks, moose, bear: quite easy to see in Altai, there are plenty - if you are interested, send us a mail via custom tours page, we'll get you in touch with the right people there.

Ulytau: never been there.

Ustyurt: are you talking about the Uzbek section or the Kazakh section? In any case, just get in touch with the archeological department of the university, they can help you. Or a good travel agency. If nothing works out, but first please do try, ask me again.
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Julia
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by Julia »

Hi.

And I'll add info about safety of leaving things in your car.
I read and heard enough reports from people who's cars were open and things stolen from their cars near popular natural parks. Especially many cases were last season near Charyn canyon.
As you have many valuable electronic devices I'd make sure that they're hidden properly in the car. Don't leave them on display. Or have someone waiting for you in the car while you're away.
In wild spots where very few other people it's safer.
But in the popular places like Charyn, Kolsay, Altyn Emel, etc. where there are other people and cars are better to be cautious about valuable things left in your car.
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airlinedlx
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by airlinedlx »

Thank you both for your quick replies!

I'll get in touch with Serik right away!
About Ustyurt, I was talking about the Kazakh side. I'll get in touch with the university, were you referring to the Al-Farabi Kazakh University?

About Aksu Zhabagly that's good to hear, I'll contact both the aksu inn and svetlana!

Regarding Altai, sadly we are on a very low budget and Altai is just too far from all the places we want to visit, which is pretty inconvenient if Altai is the best spot for mammals... We'll see if we can afford a trip there but that's highly unlikely.

About the safety, that's noted, we'll hide our stuff as much as possible!

Thanks again, if anyone has info about Ulytau please let me know!
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Julia
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by Julia »

Regarding Ulytau - what is balbal?))

I read reports from travels to Ulytau (in Russian from locals). They mention ancient parts of walls.
Is it or something different?
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steven
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by steven »

Julia wrote:Regarding Ulytau - what is balbal?))

I read reports from travels to Ulytau (in Russian from locals). They mention ancient parts of walls.
Is it or something different?
Just google it, it will become clear quickly. Surprised you never heard of them, I thought it was common knowledge that you would be taught in primary school.
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by steven »

For the archaeologist: Andrei Astafiyev is the guy you need. Андрей Астафьев

Daulet Begendikov, Talgat Omarov are perhaps also good options: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/proj ... k-to-life/
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by Julia »

steven wrote:
Julia wrote:Regarding Ulytau - what is balbal?))

I read reports from travels to Ulytau (in Russian from locals). They mention ancient parts of walls.
Is it or something different?
Just google it, it will become clear quickly. Surprised you never heard of them, I thought it was common knowledge that you would be taught in primary school.
I googled before asking but didn't get the clear idea))

I searched again now and I got it. Those are stone statues.
Never heard balbal word before even in primary school. We just used different words for that.
Now I know. Thanks!
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airlinedlx
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by airlinedlx »

Thanks very much for those names I'll contact them!

About balbal I never heard about them neither until I read the Ulytau section of caravanistan! I'll try to find people who've been there, I doubt balbals would be easy to find without a guide, but they would be extremely valuable for our documentary!

I heard from Serik already, sounds like by the end of next year there might be no ships left in Kazakhstan, that's really sad to hear!
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Boris_S
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Re: General info for a documentary shooting

Post by Boris_S »

airlinedlx wrote:
Regarding Ustyurtregion:
- This seems to be a secret, but does anyone know who we could contact to hope to film the desert kites of the Ustyurt region? We have a separate shooting planned for this region, do most guides in Aktau know where to find them?
- We would most likely fly to Aktau and rent a car there, any recommandations?
Hi Steeve,

Not sure if you follow this thread, do you still interested in Ustyurt plateau local provider?
I know well this region, the opener was in 1993 by crossing all plateau from Aktau, Kazakhstan to Kunya-Urgench, Turkmenistan by 6x6 bus truck, partly following Paris-Moscow-Bejing 1992 rally's itinerary (unfortunately, this is impossible at present, because of strict borders regulations). I'm working with independent travelers as well as with some European travel agencies and can help with logistics in different parts of this region, including Ustyurt national reserve.
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