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Aktau mountains in Altyn-Emel park.

Visiting of sights Altyn-Emel park.

“Ahead of us rose a small hillock, which received the name Aktau (White Mountains) from its white color, similar to the color of the whitened sulfatara rocks. In Aktau there were deposits of alum and, as local Kyrgyz claimed, ammonia. The Chinese left everywhere here traces of their development experiments for sulfur, alum and ore, according to their testimony, iron and silver-lead, as in Kalkan."

Semenov-Tyan-Shansky. "Journey to Tien Shan". 1856 – 1857.

Wednesday Travel Kazakhstan.

Small Ak-Tau mountain range is located at an altitude of 535 meters above sea level in southeastern part and 893 meters above sea level in central part, in southeastern part of Altyn-Emel natural park, in Panfilov district in south of Zhetysu region.
Ak -Tau (translated from Kazakh means “White Mountains” (ak - “white”, tau - “mountain”). The mountains are located 9.8 kilometers from the right bank of the Ili River (in the western part). In the west they border on the southern spurs of the Katu-Tau mountains, in the north the border of the mountains is the southern slopes of the Katu-Tau mountains.
From the east, the mountains are limited by the Kalshalyozek, Albanbay, Bakabasha tracts and the valley of the drying rivers Kokterek and Bokabaidyn-Ashasy. The area of the Ak-Tau chalk mountains is 264.76 square kilometers, the perimeter of the mountains reaches 63.91 kilometers.
The mountains stretch from southwest to northeast for 20.5 kilometers, the width in the western part is 7.8 kilometers, in the eastern part the mountains reach 11 kilometers. The dominant height of Ak-Tau is the mountain of the same name, 893 meters above sea level, located in the central part, closer to the western tip.
Between the Ili River and the Ak-Tau Mountains, in the western part there are the Kum-Kala sands, in the central and eastern parts the Aigaykum sands with the height of ridges and mounds from 4 to 15 meters. In the northwestern part of the mountains there is the Uyakule spring.
History of the Ak-Tau mountains in Altyn-Emel natural park.
The mountains are interesting, first of all, for their picturesque, rare beauty landscapes of different colors composed of chalk rocks, mostly white. The age of rock deposits is 60 - 70 million years. The mountains are composed of a lifeless layer of stones, the multi-colored range of which is a very mysterious creation of nature.
You can find a cluster of paleobotanical flora objects, representatives of subtropical forms of ancient plants. Blue (“lunar landscape”), red, white, pink, green slopes, intricately cut by erosion, are so extraordinary that it is impossible to take your eyes off. The reason for such a bizarre mountain landscape is that the mountains are sedimentary.
The sculptural work of temporary watercourses flowing from the mountains in these places does not weaken. Geological and paleontological sights of the Ak-Tau mountains in the Altyn-Emel park. The Ak-Tau Cretaceous massif was formed by volcanic activity about 400 million years ago.
Ak-Tau Mountains, thick sedimentary deposits of a huge ancient lake (according to one version, the ancient Tethys Ocean), which once filled the Ili Basin. The height of the deposits reaches 1000 meters. As a result of tectonic and erosional activity, over time, beautiful gorges and canyons arose, composed of ribbon sedimentary rocks of various colors: green, red, blue and white.
The Ak-Tau Mountains is a natural geological museum, where you can visually restore the geological and paleontological record of this unique territory, trace the entire long history from the appearance of the first land islands to the formation of desert mountains, with their inherent flora and fauna.
The remains of ancient plants and animals, actautitan and other paleontological finds were discovered in the Aktau mountains. Several large localities of remains of the Cenozoic fauna have been established. As a result of excavations, numerous fragments of skeletons of ancient animals that lived in different eras of the Cenozoic (about 50 million years ago) were discovered: swamp rhinoceroses - brontotheres, crocodiles, mollusks, turtles, giant rhinoceros, mastodons, deer.
The completely preserved skeleton of Brontothere - the ancestor of the modern hippopotamus - was discovered during joint Kazakh-American expeditionary work in 1995 - 1997. The remains found did not belong to any species known to science.
Thus, a new species of brontothere was discovered in Kazakhstan - actautitan, named after the Ak-Mountains. Tau. (The exhibits are stored in the Museum of Nature of Kazakhstan "Gylym Ordasy" of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the city of Almaty, as well as in the visitor center of the national park in the village of Basshi).
In addition to the remains of fauna in the Aktau Mountains, locations of Miocene flora were discovered (for example, in the form of imprints of leaves of ancient trees) - poplar, willow, elm, barberry, ailanthus and other plants (56 species in total), as well as pratugai - the ancestors of modern tugai trees growing in this region. This flora reflects the gradual aridization (drying) of the local climate.
Tourism in Ak-Tau mountains of Altyn-Emel natural park.
Already from afar, when approaching the Ak-Tau mountains, unearthly, alien landscapes open up, similar to the scenery of a science fiction film. The Ak-Tau Mountains attract lovers of unusual scenic views, hiking and cycling, and photography.
The gorges and colorful canyons of this mountain range are a long labyrinth, interesting to explore. For lovers of geology and paleontology, there is no better place for research and excursions; there is a real open-air museum here. Here you can find dozens of different rocks, scattered throughout the gorges or laid out in the form of a “layer cake”.
The Ak-Tau Mountains are a popular place for photo tours and drone photography due to the diversity of the landscape and beautiful views. For this purpose, people often come here overnight to see these landscapes at sunset and sunrise.
Geographic coordinates of Ak-Tau mountains: N44°01'34 E79°17'48   

Alexander Petrov.

Photos by:
Alexander Petrov.