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Home » Ile-Alatau national nature park. Turgen gorge. Sights of Zailiiskiy Ala-Tau mountains.

Car route to Turgen gorge.

Tourism in Central Asia.

“Everything in excess is opposed to nature” 


Travel across Turgen gorge and Almaty.

There is a panoramic view of a wide valley of the Turgen river on the 61km to the right from the road, and it seems as if the highway is calling us to the mountains. Let us follow this call and turn to the south, passing the Turgen village by.
The reform of 1861, which cancelled the serfdom in Russia, resulted in conditions for resettlement of the Russian peasants to the east areas. Especially a lot of immigrants directed to this area. In 1868 3324 families of which 2099 formed the settlements including village Mihajlovskoe (nowadays Turgen). The villages based by immigrants, didn't differ much from the Russian villages: a firm log hut, around of it - the closed yard consisting of barns, sheds, cellars, a bath, a stable, a canopy for stock and other outdoor constructions.
To the local architecture the immigrants brought their tastes, customs, culture traditions. For example, basic stones of the house basement they watered with blood of a killed cock. To become rich they placed coins under the framework bottom for defense from evil spirits - incense, for warmth - wool. It is curious, that peasants carried to the Zhetysu the most precious to them: from Siberia - flowers in pots, that in ice cold days smelt sweetly on the dark windows; from the Volga region - flat big stones, carefully warped up in rags (they put them for oppression on sour cabbage). But there was a lot of flowers , stones and sunshine enough for all in the Zhetysu!
The main occupation of the inhabitants was agriculture, that is why they named the village the Mihajlovskoe - after the saint Michael -a patron of peasants. The immigrants built the orthodox churches, cultivated fields and kitchen gardens, planted the gardens.
Thus, many Slavic customs started to enter the Kazakhs life. The modern name of the village is Turgen, that in translation from the Kazakh language means a stand (settlement). Now about 10 thousand people live there. Here there is Mihajlovskoe church, the only one watermill in the district, and also a brick-plant, which we saw at last road crossing, providing with building materials all the neighboring settlements.
Many inhabitants are busy with the agricultural activities. It is thanks to the local fertile black soils chernozem. From many beautiful, green gardens and wine yards of the Alatau, the Turgen differs by special silence, clean beautiful houses and plenty of fruits.
The gorge of the Turgen river and the surroundings are considered to be rather attractive places for the walking travel, or by mountain bicycle or car. The road goes from Turgen village along gorge for 44 km. To the Assy plateau where there is an astrophysical observatory, stands of shepherds, ownerless pioneer camps.
The asphalted covering is over on the 26-th kilometer, that's where we go. The gorge owing of availability (except the payment at the ecological post), the extent, abundance of monuments of the wild and artificial nature, an opportunity of spending a vacation at the local mountain resorts attracts many travelers.
On the 5 km there's a barrier on the entrance to the national park. Further is a mineral water spring. Here many local wedding couples come to make a traditional "bathing" (the same source is at the 20-th km.). Huge sculpture of the Gold man protects the entrance to the gorge. Turgen has been known for a long time. Multiple old times people's stands discovered lately prove this.
On the 7 km. there's a trout farm, which exists since 1960. Before its activity had the closed character - a trout was served only for a "imperial" table and only VIPs could have it. In the middle of 1990 -s the farm was privatized and now it is a favorite place for outside activities of the townspeople.
The trout is a whimsical and choosy fish; it prefers only the purest cold water. As it is known, the price for the goods is made up from the expenses spent for manufacture. Their lion's share is   the forage bought far abroad. In special pools the black beauties swim in all their imperial greatness, so-called a commodity fish.
Beside, in a separate pool, large fishes float. It is a gold genes fund of the farm. They are treated carefully as they provide the fish "livestock". The experts do not forget about putting the fish into the river, giving joyful moments to the fishers.
Beside the ponds there is a horse farm, cultivation of thoroughbred racehorses of especially valuable breeds. On the 10 km the gorge becomes wider and you can see a huge meadow with weeping willows, and thickets along the river.
The road goes to the nice place Mikushino on the West. There is a mountain rest hotel «Sinegorie», a seismic station with a deep tunnel where earthquakes of all over the world are determined, children's camp "Edelweiss". Road, further on Mikushino is accessible only to cross-country vehicles, then it comes to an end at the lake Zhasyl kol (Green lake) in 5 km. It is small - 300 x 800 meters - and is drying out. Fishers-fans come here for fishing.
On the 15th kilometer of highway (alongside the Turgen) burial grounds of the Sakae and the Mongolian periods were found.
Along them there's a path for cattle on which people for many millenniums have driven cattle to the highest pastures. Archeologists found attributes of people living 5000 years ago, as well as traces of the natural cataclysms. 
The Turgen river starts on the northern slope of the Alatau by three sources: the left is the Big Turgen, with the middle is the Turgen and the right is the Small Turgen which are formed due to the merge of some minor inflows. All the sources begin at a water-separate crest of a ridge in the glacial valleys.
The length of the river- 110 km., the area of a reservoir - 900 sq. km., the mid-annual charge - 7 m/s. That is what Semenov Tian-Shansky wrote about this river: "we came to the place on the Turgen river, where it came from the mountain valley to the foothill , where the river punched itself a deep hollow. It's bottom was full of boulders of porphyry, its current is fast and noisy, its waves are foamed, jumping over the underwater rocks. There were many alluvial islands filled up by boulders; width of the river is the same as the Talgar, and the ford at its outflow from mountains was very inconvenient for our weak horses.
here is a valley gradually became more narrow and picturesque, and is covered with apple-trees, apricots, poplars, a hawthorn and the maple, which later on was given my name. And on the mountain slopes going down to the valley, thin fur trees grow".
On the 18th kilometer there are ruins of sanatorium "Tauturgen". Here were the radon warm springs, which ran low because the road was constructed by the explosive method, therefore the sanatorium became ownerless. And further, on the 19th km., right after the bridge, there is a track, which goes to the left and in 1,8 km. along a channel of the enough watered stream leads to a Bear falls. Be careful on the track, as some places it goes along the edge of a low cliff and at a few places it is crossed by the stream.
The waterfall is located at the altitude of 520 meters above the sea level. Its height is 28 meters and the charge of water - 0,4 cube. m. per sec. The water dust freshens and invigorates, in fact the temperature of a stream does not exceed 12 degrees even in hot day. Rocks at the waterfall, broken by earthquakes, store on themselves the prints of ancient plants.
The name of the waterfall is not occasional. Here, in a zone of the mixed woods, there is plenty of pastures for bear . It would eat an apple fallen from the tree or a bush of blackberries. The white claw bear or Tiеn-Shan bear will not attack a person on his will.
For a person it's very rear to meet a bear in the mountains and usually such meetings are tragic for an animal. So many bears (and bear cubs!) were killed by "skilled" hunters, more truly by poachers, as if of self-defense. There are fewer places remained where you can see bear's tracks, in some kind reminding person's footstep.
Really, the bear goes not on fingers, as the majorities of predators, but on foot, like a person. A bear is the "foot walking" wolf that eats everything. It can eat almost everything - a fresh grass, chews ears grain, digs out bulbs, root crops, collects berries, nuts and juicy fruits.
Honey is like a magnet for it. It is ready to suffer a little from the furious bees for the sake of a sweet feast. It does not disdain of carrion. It even prefers to dig in some meat if he is full, so the meat gets rotten. Our bear is more light-colored and smaller than a northern one. It can be two hundred kg and up to 1,5 - 2 meters high.
Due to the white claws , which are especially strong on the front paws, he is called a white claw bear. He needs strong claws for digging out the gofers. Bears do not conduct a gregarious life and almost don't contact with each other. It is difficult to understand the expression of the bear's muzzle and what is on its mind.
The common belief about its kindness, good nature comes from the fairy tales and is not real. Let us come back to the same path leading to the bridge. In 300 meters after the bridge there is "the source of beauty". It is the well arranged a spring with tasty, very cold water. There is a natural boundary Batan after 7 km. above the current where we go.
The richest fauna in the Ile Alatau called "a life zone" is the deciduous woods. Gazelle is a characteristic and numerous inhabitant of this zone, its forage is young branches of apple-trees, dried apricots, a dog-rose and its fruits.
There are predatory animals: a caress, an ermine, and a wolf. On the bare southern slopes the fox lives, it hunts partridges and mount hens; there live badgers, hamsters and other rodents. The birds world is rich in the deciduous woods . Here are an oriole, a warbler, a blackbird, a swallow, a black cock, a woodpecker, a cedar bird and many other kinds.
Near the noisy streams of the mountain rivers the dark blue bird nests can be found, which native land is India. In beams of the bright sun its plumage casts metal blue. Its melodious singing is audible even through noise of falling water.
If you see a mobile bird with a short tail sticking up, you must know it is a cinclus. It gets food at a bottom of the fast mountain rivers, running under the water any time of the year. The world of mammals is very interesting and various (47 kinds). The lynx lives in fir groves.
Near springs and small rivers wild boars live which number was great enough and has decreased in connection with settling by the people of the bottom part of mountains. There is a squirrel in a wood brought here from Siberia. The master of high mountains (mainly rocks) - a snow leopard does not attack people.
This fact is surprising if to consider how seriously it is armed. In rarefied air of high mountains where a person cannot run evenl meters, without being choked from shortage of oxygen, the leopard is able to run with speed of a wind for hundred meters. It feels itself perfectly in native mounts at height more than 3000 meters above the sea level. A leopard is one of the most surprising cats. It is one and a half meters long, and the tail concedes to a trunk in length only a little.
Fur is very dense and long, smoky-gray, with brownish stains on sides and a back. Powerful short paws and flexible back ridge allow a leopard to make millimeter jumps overtaking a prey. In fierce March frosts, among snows and glaciers at leopard lair 2-3 kittens are born in a cave under a huge stone.
By the end of the summer they are fed with mother's milk. Already on the first month of a life cubs learn the taste of game. They mature only on 3-4-th year. Very few people were lucky to see a leopard in the nature. Even to people who spent enough time in its territory, it seems that there was no animal at all, and they would be surprised if they could only know that a pair of curious yellow eyes followed them, and even leopard was only one jump away from them.
The leopard has an extensive territory, but inside of it constantly moves, using various areas each season. As a rule, it follows herds of mountain goats and rams on which its well-being depends mainly. Leopard's living in high mountains becomes tougher every year.
A person drove a snow leopard up to the tops of the mountains. It is already included into the Red book and if it goes like this, leopards can disappear in general just like some time ago tigers disappeared from our mountains. The snow leopard hunts mountain goats. Mountain goat is beauty and pride of Kazakhstan. It experiences the most tragic period of its existence.
Never ever its number was so small. The mountain goat which is also named as a Siberian or Central Asia goat, after a place where it is from, has a strong constitution, looks a little bit thickset because of rather short legs with strong hoofs, reliably clinging for the smallest ledges of rocks. It can pass on absolutely unimaginable route on almost steep rock. The expression « goat tracks » is not occasional and means inaccessibility. Males are decorated with greater horns which grow for all their life reaching by ten years 120 cm. length.
Their weight gets up to lOOkgs, height is one meter, length of a trunk over 1,5 meters. Females have horns no longer than 30-40sm. Goats live not longer than 15 years, and up to this age only few survive. Mountain ram argali (moufflon) is the typical inhabitant of the high mountains and is used to severe conditions.
The argalies are able to climb steep rocks slopes. In summertime these animals try to keep by the edge of glaciers among stony looses. In winter they go to the zone of deciduous woods and also are fed there on southern slopes. It has long legs, thick body, with a dense trunk brown.
Bottom of a body, legs and a rump are white. But the main decoration are the powerful twirled horns; males horns grow for all their life, reaching more than a meter length. Often adult males enter fights; sharp loud dry impact of horns can be audible for 1 km.
The mountain ram is superb adapted for a life in mountains, more truly, to the dismembered relief, but not to rocks which it avoids. Its favorite places are plateaus, it is slightly hilled sites along axial ridges and spurs. Unlimited prosecution has made it almost a rarity in mountains, in some places it is completely annihilated. By the way, there're three kinds of herds: mixed, male and female.
Female ones are a basis of the herd, they consist of females and young animals. Males make independent but not constant herds and from time to time join to females ones. Last years single rams are frequent also though its gregarious instinct is strong enough. Herds consist from several individuals up to several tens.
Earlier hundreds mountain rams accumulated in herds. It is very difficult to come close to the mountain ram. It usually notices people before they can see it with the field-glass. But nevertheless the modern weapon with an optical sight gives many advantages to a hunter. Certainly, the game reaching 120 centimeters high and weighting up to 200kgs is a very tempting trophy. Marals (Siberian stag) lived in almost all woods of Kazakhstan till XIX century.
They lived on banks of the steppe rivers and went for feeding even to the steppe. But because of injurious hunting them marals are about to disappear. Regal horns of a maral are not only a remarkable decoration, a desired hunting trophy, but also raw material for a valuable medicine.
On the 25th kilometer at the river in the narrowed gorge a great glade with a wood and spring is situated. It has private seasonal tourist camp for few years. The road here is washed away in 2003, and maybe further it's necessary to go by feet.
On 26-th kilometer the Baton is placed -  a small settlement of foresters. At the Batan 3 streams merge flowing down with the Talgar mountain unit and from the glacier Amanzhol. Here is a fork road. Further the most curious and tough of you can proceed and see the Kairak falls (55m high) which is in the Turgen gorge at height of 2300 m.
The road which turned to the southwest goes along a channel of the river Turgen, with 7 bridges over it (some of them are not restored). The Bozgul - the right inflow of the Turgen river, punched a tunnel in the rocks and formed a powerful and unique waterfall for the lie Alatau.
A tiny road comes to it, further turning to the Amanzhol pass and to Assam , the so called "the Imperial gate". A ladder is a sign for the turn to the left. The Batan is a favorite vacation spot for tourists. Here are many mushroom places. There are milk mushrooms, saffron milk caps and others.
The unique on the Tian-Shan moss fir groves are located here, they cover the area of over 90 hectares. In this part of the gorge a long moss covers a dense fir forest with depth up to 60 cm, covering permafrost on abrupt northern slopes. Fur- tree grows mainly grow on northern slopes, sometimes settling rather extensive views, reaching up to 3000 meters. It was named as Shrenk fur tree after the Russian scientist who investigated it. This majestic wood plant reaches 40 - 50 meters high and in diameter up to 2 meters with a narrow conic crone and beautifully hanging branches.
Unlike other coniferous trees, it develops vitamin С even in the winter. Its resinous cones are 10-12 cm long. It is 2 times longer, than Siberian fur-tree cones. The fur-tree is more light requiring but less water requiring. Its root system gets deep into the ground.
For 10 years of growth becomes 60 - 70 cm high, and ripens only by 40 - 50 years. It lives 300-400 years. The fur-tree is ever green, process of needle change occurs gradually. Needles stay on the tree for 6 - 7 years. Wood of a fur-tree possesses many valuable properties. The fur-tree is also considered to be a good building material or "a ship and musical tree".
Wood of the Shrenk fur-tree is surprisingly strong. Before revolution this fur-tree was used as a building material. In Vierney (present city Almaty), apartment houses and public buildings of city had been made of it. including the well-known Cathedral. It is interesting to note, that at restoration of this monument in the middle of 70th years logs of houses of the XIX century were used - so well they were kept. Wood of the fur-trees is a valuable material for manufacturing musical string tools: guitars, dombra.
The fur-tree is not only a decoration of mountains, but also the head of the biocinosis. Its ecological value is invaluable. In a fur-tree wood there's a special biological environment, giving life to microscopic organisms, the maximum plants and animals. In the afternoon as a result of photosynthesis the fur-tree allocates the cleanest oxygen into the atmosphere and a plenty of essential oils and other substances - the bioliths having resinous aroma.
The crone of Shrenk fur-tree has the electromagnetic field, sometimes giving discharges. Academician B.A.Bykov described, how he had the luck to observe such discharges before the thunder-storm and as in twilight at peaked tops of the highest trees the light blue tongues of not clear flame shone.
Fir forests have the big water-security value, they strengthen vertical currents of air owing to what a plenty of precipitation drops out. At the same time, they stop the evaporation, creating an original microclimate. Therefore the most part of the precipitation falling in a wood, participates in accumulation of a moisture and formation of a river drain, as defines basically a water-security role of fir groves.
Water-adjusting and soil-saving value of fir forests is great. The wood laying and the wind swing of powerful root systems improve filtration ability of soil; precipitation get deep into the ground and feed underground waters, slow down and level a drain of subsoil waters.
Besides woods lessen the washout of soil, prevent formation of earth flows, landslips and avalanches, protects the rivers from drifts. Since 1963 in fir forests industrial preparations of wood were forbidden and the wood enterprises were liquidated. Now only selective cuttings are done; they spare the structure of the biocinosis. In the further they should be stopped completely. 
We come back and at Turgen village we turned to the right and, when passed it, we go to the north along the right bank of the river, admiring a majestic panorama of its valley and even more grandiose views of the Ile valley.
After couple of tens kilometers we turn off to the right to the bottom main highway.

In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.In Turgen gorge.

 By the deserved worker of tourism of Republic Kazakhstan, The candidate of pedagogical sciences, the guide - methodologist Lyuterovich Oleg.

Alexander Petrov