Национальный парк

Altyn-Emel National Park (UNESCO Site)

Location and Territory

Altyn-Emel National Park is located in the valley of the Ili River in the Almaty region, between the Ili River and the Kapchagai reservoir in the south, the western spurs of the Dzungarian Alatau mountains in the north, and the cretaceous mountains of Aktau in the east.

Territory: 307 653 hectares

For more detailed information please visit website www.visitaltynemel.kz →

Main Attractions

Singing Sand Dune

One of the main attractions of the Altyn-Emel National Park is Aigaykum, or the Singing Dune, which is located on the Ili River valley, about 2 km from the river, on its right bank, between the small mountain ranges, the Big and the Small Kalkans. The maximum height of the dune is about 150 m, its total length is about 3 km. Other similar sandy mountains in Kazakhstan can be found only in the Mangistau region, but the main feature of this sandy mountain in Jetysu (Semirechye) region is its capability to emit a sound in dry windy weather that resembles the drone of a jet plane. No more than four similar sand dunes all over the world have this phenomenon. Unlike other dunes, this one does not change its location and shape due to a special wind rose in the hollow between the hills.

Aktau Mountains

The Aktau mountain range, located in the eastern part of the Altyn-Emel National Park, was once the bottom of the ancient Tethys ocean which in the Cretaceous period filled the Ili River basin. As the ocean disappeared, nature created here beautiful gorges and canyons of sheer walls, composed of multi-colored layers of rocks: from green and red at the bottom to motley and white at the top. Against the background of the endless semi-desert of Jetysu (Semirechye), the Aktau mountains look like a picturesque scenery for a fantastic film, with their landscape so beautiful and bizarre.

Katutau Mountains

Katutau ("Severe Mountains") are very ancient dilapidated mountains with outcrops of volcanic rocks preserved in some places. These rocks are very friable and easily crumble from physical impact. Over time, water and wind carved bizarre figures in it.

Besshatyr Necropolis

The Besshatyr necropolis is the main ethnographic and archaeological attraction of the Altyn-Emel National Park. Besshatyr is the burial place of the leaders of the ancient Sakas-tigrahauda and their entourage. It dates back to the middle of the 1st millennium BC. The necropolis consists of 37 mounds with stone embankments. In the central part of the necropolis, on an area of 2 square kilometers, the largest royal burial mounds up to 17 meters high are concentrated. In terms of its monumentality and complexity, Besshatyr has no analogues in the whole of Central Asia.

Flora and Fauna

The variety of natural conditions of the Altyn-Emel National Park (desert, mountains, rivers) determines a high degree of biological diversity. The flora of the Altyn-Emel Park includes about 180 species of plants, from mountain species (juniper, Shrenk spruce, iron tree, mountain ash, hawthorn) to desert plants (saxaul, calligonum, tamarisk, saltwort). On the plain and along the river there are small groves of mixed-leaved poplar, or turanga, a kind of tree that gives the foothill plain the appearance of a savanna.

The avifauna numbers over 230 species. Some of the birds nesting in the Altyn-Emel National Park are listed in the Red List (about 20 species).

The ichthyofauna of the Kapchagai reservoir and the Ili River is represented by 30 species of fish.

The fauna of insects is very rich - more than 2000 species.

Mammals: from the desert eared hedgehog to the typical mountain animals of Siberian ibex (teks) - 78 species in total. Among them are Persian gazelles, argali, kulans and the rarest Przewalski's horses.

Other national parks in the Almaty Region: