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Home » Alakol reserve. Ornithological tours on the national nature reserve Alakol.

Salt waters Alakol Lаke.

Birdwatching in Alakol reserve.

“Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere”

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Adventure traveler on Alakol reserve.

Explored primarily by those who descend from the heavens, and not far from the Chinese border, lies one of southeast Kazakhstan best-kept secrets. Known as the place for post-mission recovery, cosmonauts have been flocking to the black-pebbled shores of Alakol Lake for years.
The multi-colored Alakol Lake is 90km long, and its 16% saltwater is said to have medicinal properties. Here, cosmonauts are joined by their fine-feathered friends who also have come to this secret resting spot along their migratory path.
Nominated for listing as a Ramsar site, Alakol Lake is situated on the Indo-Chinese migratory flyway and is part of the country's most strategic wetlands complex for birds. Without a doubt the area is a bird bonanza for bird enthusiasts and eco-tourists alike!
In order to truly enter bird paradise the Alakol reserve offers fantastic bird watching experiences by canoe to see all the species that make the wetlands their home. If one is lucky, it is even possible to see the endangered Relict gull, Dalmatian pelican and Bewick swan.
Over 107 species of birds, including 15 nationally protected species, can be found in the area. Alakol Lake is connected by the fresh water Sassykol Lake and amid the two lakes are widespread wetlands and smaller bodies of water making the perfect breeding ground for water fowl.
The area nearby the lakes is steppe and semi desert; however, nestled among the mountains between China and Kazakhstan lays the windy "Zhongar Gates." Blessed with mountains, the Alakol area has great opportunities for rarely traveled hiking routes, horseback-riding trails, and shepherds camps.
The mountains are also home to many foraging bears and mountain goats. If one hikes to a high enough elevation, it is possible to see the snowy peaked Ala-Tau mountain range in the distance and the inspiring vistas of Alakol Lake and its beaches.
Alakol's Akshy village beach is a great place to have a picnic, go swimming and then stay in a Yurt or one of the local home-stays with a sauna. Once bored of beach life, it is possible to take pictures of wild boars near the town of Rybachy.
The local fishermen are more than happy to give a tour to visitors and such trips are another great way to see flocks of birds flying in every possible direction. As the cosmonauts make their holiday plans, so to do their feathered companions; Alakol's "Bird Island" is ideal for rest, relaxation and nesting before the birds continue on their journey.
Forthose of us lacking the appropriate wingspan. Bird Island is a few hours by boat from the village of Koktuma on Alakol's northern shore; however, it can be difficult to reach do to strong winds that can make traversing Alakol Lake hazardous.
The safest time to make the trip is in May and June when the winds are calm and many birds stop to nest on the island. The island is part of a conservation site and a United Nations Development Programme project aimed at environmental protection and the development of eco-tourism.
The UNDP office is located in Usharal's Alakol reservation building and can be reached at (8-32833) 2 - 22 - 60. The staff can help with questions regarding ecotourism.

By Gabriel Ellis

Alexander Petrov.