Ile-Alatau National Park
Location and Territory
Zaili Alatau Mountains
The Zaili Alatau range is one of the extreme northern arcs of the Tien Shan mountain system.
The territory of Zaili Alatau from the foothills to the peaks has a layered structure. The highest layer consists of steep, high and inaccessible peaks. These are the Talgar Peak (the highest peak of Zaili Alatau), the Constitution Peak, the Peak of 25 years of Kazakhstan, the Big Almaty Peak and others, attracting climbers from around the world.
The next is a low-mountain layer, there are many shallow hills separated by valleys here, as well as the so-called “counters” in the form of plateau-like hills.
Zaili Alatau Rivers
According to their source, the Zaili Alatau rivers are divided into three types: high-glacial, mid-mountain and low-mountain.
The largest are the rivers of the first type - Chemolgan (Shamalgan), Kaskelen, Aksai, Bolshaya Almatinka, Malaya Almatinka, Talgar, Issyk, Turgen. They have glacial nutrition, are very full-flowing, as many small mountain rivers flow into them.
Mid-mountain rivers, the sources of which are located at an altitude of less than 3000 meters above sea level, feed on atmospheric precipitation and groundwater. These are small mountain rivers, 15-20 km long, with steep channel changes (rapids) and a fast current. These are Kargauyldy, Kotyrbulak and other rivers.
The third type includes many small seasonal rivers starting in the low mountains, in which water appears only in spring, and in the summertime they dry up.
Turgen Gorge, Turgen Wateralls, Assy Plateau, Assy Observatory
The valley of the Turgen River is known for its picturesque gorge and waterfalls, the most famous of which are the Bear Waterfall and the Kairak Waterfall.
The Assy high-mountain plateau is located between the Turgen Gorge and the Bartogay Lake. The length of the plateau from east to west is about 40 km, the width is about 7 km. The Assy plateau is limited by the Karach ridge and the Bokaidyntau mountains from the north, and by the Sarytau ridge from the south. In the west, the Assy plateau passes into the Turgen Gorge, and into the valley of the Bartogay Lake in the east.
The Assy plateau is a huge alpine summer pasture (jailau). Here you can see countless herds of cattle, sheep and horses.
The Assy Observatory is located at the western end of the plateau. It is a high-mountain observatory built in Soviet times for observing giant planets as the air here is crystal clear.
The Assy River flows along the plateau.
The place called Zhaman Uy is found in the depths of the Zaili Alatau mountains, in its eastern end, between the Assy Plateau and the Bartogai Lake.
It is known for the reddish clay mountains that resemble the Charyn Canyon. But you can also see here mountains of a completely different appearance that make the whole landscape absolutely unique and diverse. The Assy River flows along the country road. On the other bank there are rocks with petroglyphs of ancient nomads.
The Bartogay Lake (actually an artificial water reservoir) is located on the Chilik (Shelek) River. Its length from north to south is 6 km, the width is 3 km, and the average depth is 25 meters. From Bartogay the Great Almaty Canal originates. Bartogay is inhabited by carp, crucian carp, and trout.
Issyk is one of the largest rivers on the northern slope of Zaili Alatau. The river flows through the Issyk Lake which was a very famous resort until the destructive mudflow in 1963 that changed the riverbed. By the beginning of the 21st century, the volume of the lake was restored by 3/4, and the Issyk Lake is now open to the public again. The water in the Issyk Lake is cold even in the hot summer, with no fish. But the lake attracts with its picturesque landscape.
On the left bank of the Issyk River is the Issyk Mound, a part of the Saka burials, where in 1969 the famous Golden Man (Altyn Adam) was found. It is the remains of a Saka warrior in golden clothes dating from 6-5 centuries BC.
Big Almaty Lake (BAO)
Above the city of Almaty, at an altitude of 2500 m, there is Big Almaty Lake, a large permanent water reservoir. The area of the lake is about 1 sq.km, the depth is up to 39 meters. Bathing and fishing on the lake are impossible, but the place attracts a huge number of tourists all year round due to the incredibly beautiful landscape.
Butakovsky gorge (Butakovka)
Butakovka is a picturesque mountain gorge in the city of Almaty. The Butakovka River, which is the right tributary of the Malaya Almatinka River, flows along the bottom of the gorge.
There are two small waterfalls in the Butakovsky Gorge, the Lower (Big) Waterfall and the Upper Waterfall. The Upper Waterfall is 2470 meters above sea level, its height is 20 meters.
The height of the Lower Waterfall is 30 meters. It is more powerful and picturesque in comparison with the Upper Waterfall.
Due to its small distance from the city center, the Butakovsky Gorge is one of the most popular holiday destinations among residents and visitors of the city.
Flora and Fauna
The flora of the Ile-Alatau National Park includes more than 1000 species, 36 species are from the Red List. The mountains of Zaili Alatau are diverse, from gloomy bare rocks to slopes and mountain valleys with lush vegetation covered with spruce trees all year.
The wildlife of the Ile-Alatau National Park is rich and diverse. There are 47 species of mammals. Typically mountainous mammals include Tien Shan shrew, rock shrew, red pika, gray marmot, Tien Shan mouse, silver vole, stone marten, snow leopard, mountain goat.
Along with the typical mountainous species in Ile-Alatau National Park, there are species common to other ecosystems: wolf, fox, bear, roe deer, red deer, wild boar, tolai hare, etc.
The Red List group consists of 7 species: brown Tien Shan bear, snow leopard, stone marten, Central Asian river otter, manul, Turkestan lynx, Indian porcupine.
In the mountain rivers and streams, 8 species of fish are found: naked and scaly ottoman, marinka, minnow, and acclimatized rainbow trout in the Turgen River.
Other national parks in the Almaty Region: