Altyn-Emel National Park Kazakhstan

Creating a park

The appearance of the Altyn-Emel Park dates back to 1996. By organizing this reserve, the state aimed to preserve and increase rare representatives of the animal and plant world, popularize ecotourism and improve the conditions of nature use, traditional for the local population.

The uniqueness of the nature of the national park is due to its location at the point where the deserts of Turan and Dzungaria meet. The penetration of representatives of the flora and fauna of these regions into the territory of the reserve marked the beginning of the ecosystem that has developed here.

To date, the park has about 70 names of rare and unique flora in this region, 29 of which are listed in the state Red Book. The reserve boasts the most numerous populations of kulan and gazelle on the planet, as well as a wealth of varieties of birds of prey. In the national park, the horse of Przhevalsky, which disappeared in the wild nature of Kazakhstan, is brought out. This is the first attempt in the country to return the species to its natural conditions.

In addition to unique plants and animals, the national park includes famous natural monuments: "Singing Dune"; Aktau and Katutau mountain ranges, in the rock of which numerous fossils of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic era are found; mineral thermal springs with healing water.

"Altyn-Emel" is not only a nature reserve. On its territory there are historical and archaeological monuments of great scientific value. These are the Saka Necropolis of the VI-V centuries BC, the Royal mounds "Besshatyr", as well as a complex of 31 common mounds. Ancient petroglyphs and Buddhist inscriptions carved in stone have been preserved on some rocks of the national park.

There is a legend that during the conquest of Asia by Genghis Khan's troops, the great ruler, looking at the sunset-lit mountains, exclaimed: "Altyn Emel!". Translated from Mongolian, it means "golden saddle". Since then, one of the mountain ranges has been called that, and already today the entire national park. Caravans traveling along the Great Silk Road passed through the territory of the reserve. And in 1856, the great Kazakh researcher Chokan Valikhanov passed through the current national park. Now the place of his halt is called "Chokan Spring".

Attractions of the park

Singing Dune
This natural attraction occupies an area of 240 hectares and actually represents two sand hills with peaks of 150 m and 100 m. The height of the crests of the dunes above sea level is 600 and 650 m . Especially impressive is the larger, southern dune. This is a huge mountain of pure sand, on the slopes of which there are no plants, and they themselves are so steep that it is almost impossible to climb to the top.

Dunes have grown due to the frequent powerful winds in these places. For centuries, air masses moving in an easterly and westerly direction have carried clouds of sand with them. Between the Big and Small Kalkans, the sand carried by the winds settled to the ground, eventually forming a huge hill.

When the sand settles under its own weight, as well as during a strong wind, a rumble comes from the depths of the dunes, reminiscent of the roar of jet turbines. And with light winds, the tops of the dune are enveloped by a curtain of grains of sand raised into the air, resembling smoke over a volcano.

A unique feature of the "Singing Dune" is that this mountain of sand has not changed its location for thousands of years. Although usually in places where a strong wind often blows, the dunes gradually move.

Scientists have tried many times to find out the cause of the hum. But there is still no irrefutable version. This riddle formed the basis of many folk legends, and thanks to it, after the popular vote, the "Singing Dune" became one of the wonders of Kazakhstan.
Aktau mountains

A special place in the national park is occupied by the landscapes of the Aktau mountains. Once they were hidden by the waves of the ancient sea that existed in the Ili basin. When the sea receded, under the influence of natural processes, a network of canyons and gorges formed here. Various geological rocks have formed multi-colored layers reaching 1000 m: green and red at the bottom, white and speckled at the tops. The main network of canyons stretches in three main depressions, stretching from the peaks to the foot for 5 km. The indigenous rocks occupy an area of 50 sq. km .

Aktau Mountains belong to one of the largest objects of paleontology. There are four sites with bone deposits, the oldest of which belong to the Eocene (approximately 50 million years). There is an area with a large accumulation of prints of ancient species of flora. During the excavations carried out in Aktau, fragments of animal skeletons from different geological periods were found. These are the fossilized remains of ancient species of mollusks, crocodiles, mastodons, etc.
Katutau Mountains

The picturesque Katutau Mountains are of volcanic origin. The frozen lava turned into bizarre shapes, formed sharp rocks and caves of red shades. Among the lava deposits there are multicolored clusters of indigenous rocks and clays forming a unique landscape of Katutau. In some places there are rock paintings of deer, mountain goats, argali, domestic animals, confirming that people have lived here since ancient times.
700-year-old willow

The National Park is rich in tracts with huge spreading willows. Here thermal radon waters come to the surface, the composition of which contributes to the cure of various diseases. The main attraction of the Kosbastau tract is a willow tree, which is at least 700 years old. The lower branches of the tree rest on the ground, forming a unique natural monument with the main trunk. The diameter of the tree is impressive. To grasp it, it will take several people holding hands. There is a legend that Genghis Khan himself rested in the shade of a willow tree during a conquering expedition to Central Asia in the XII century.
River Ili

The natural boundary of the Altyn-Emel National Park is the Ili River, whose source is located in China. Its waters are replenished not only by rains and underground sources. The highest value Or reaches in May, due to the melting of snow masses in the mountains. The flood lasts until August, and in September the water level reaches normal. In winter Or for several months it is covered with ice. The riverbed in many places is divided into channels and branches, separated by islands covered with reeds, shrubs and small trees.


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