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Tour “Sivers apple trees in Ile-Alatau park”.

Excursion tours for Siversii apples in Zailiskiy Alatau.

“In Ala-Tau the sadya rose
And in the gardens sweeter than sleep and dreams,
The apples of Almaty are ripe."

Zhambyl Zhabaev.

Excursion to Siversii apple trees in Kazashka gorge.

Siversii apple tree (Malus sieversii (Ledeb.) M. Roem.) is one of the main protected sites in Kazakhstan. The apple tree represents a valuable gene pool, therefore the study and preservation of its morphological diversity for the purpose of use in modern and future breeding is an important task.
The special value of this species is that it is the keeper of a unique germplasm, the ancestor of many cultivated varieties (Vavilov, 1987; Harris, Robinson, Juniper, 2002; Morgan, Richards, Dowle, 2002). Apple forests are characterized by high productivity (up to 5 - 10 tons of fruit per hectare). As a result of the breeding inventory, 20 biologically and economically valuable forms of apple trees were identified, five of which were developed into clone varieties.
About the outstanding importance of the gene pool of the wild apple tree of Kazakhstan, especially in the selection of new varieties, the American expert genetic breeder James Luby says: “as for the Sievers apple tree, among the places it reached after leaving Kazakhstan was America, ultimately producing Red Excellent, Golden excellent, which are the parents of more than 90% of apple hybrids consumed by people."

Brief description of apple tour route in Almaty region:

Almaty - Kuznetsovo gorge valley - Big Almaty gorge - Kazashka gorge - Almaty.

Distance of tour route: 211 km.
Season: from September 1 to October 10.
Tour duration: 2 days 1 nights.
Distance of active part of tour: 4 - 5 km.
Best time for tour: flowering and fruiting of the Sieversii apple tree.

Detailed tour program day by day in Zailiskiy Alatau mountains:

Day 1. Almaty – valley Kuznetsov gorge (164 km).
Arrival in Almaty, meeting at the airport, transfer to the hotel, accommodation, rest. Breakfast.
Transfer: Almaty - Guldala village - Panfilov village - Baiterek village - Issyk village - Turgen village - Tau-Turgen village – valley Kuznetsov gorge (82 km).
After we leave Almaty, our path will lie along the ancient Kuldzha highway. After the village of Avat, the road turns south to the village of Issyk and the Zailiskiy Alatau mountains. We pass the turn into the Turgen gorge, pass through the village of the same name and immediately after the Turgen River we turn right and move along the right side of the gorge along the rive
Soon we are in the small village of Taldy-Bulak, which is located at the beginning of the Turgen gorge, on the right bank of the river. We pass the village, the asphalt road ends, turns into a regular country road and gradually rises along the right side of the gorge to a small pass.
In the southern part of the gorge there are vast meadows covered with single old Sievers apple trees, which, judging by the size of the trunk, are more than 100 years old. Along the right slope at first, for 300 meters, there is no forest, but soon the first Sievers apple trees appear.
Before the pass, for 5 kilometers we drive through an apple forest, here sometimes there are hawthorn and apricot trees. Apple forests in the gorge are represented by tracts of various sizes, small groups and individual trees along the entire length of the road.
The Sievers apple tree is distributed almost everywhere at an altitude of 1150 to 1540 meters above sea level. Walking in the vicinity of the pass among the Sievers apple trees. Lunch in nature. 
After lunch, transfer: valley Kuznetsov gorge – Turgen village – Issyk village – museum of archeology onIssyk mounds (33 km).
Visit to the Museum of History and Archeology, Issyk Saks burial mounds, walk in the surrounding area. Opposite the Issyk dachas is one of the most famous archaeological monuments of the Saks period of the IVth century - the Issyk mounds. In 1970, in the vicinity of the Issyk mounds, during archaeological excavations, a Saks warrior was found buried and belonging to the Saks-Tigrahaud rulers, possibly to the ruling dynasty of the Great Kushans.
The “Golden Warrior” was dressed in chain mail, richly decorated with gold plaques, a belt with weapons made of pure gold, and an arrow-shaped headdress on his head. The costume consists of four thousand gold jewelry - symbols, made in the famous “animal style”, characteristic of Saks artisans.
Transfer: Issyk mounds - Baiterek village - Guldala village - Almaty (49 km). Arrival in Almaty, transfer to the hotel, dinner, overnight.
Day 2. Almaty – Kazachka gorge (47 km).
Breakfast. Transfer: Almaty – Bolshoye-Almatinskoe gorge – Kazachka gorge (23 km).
Our path lies in the Big Almaty Gorge, we pass the Ile-Alatau Park checkpoint and immediately turn left along the road that leads to the Kazashka Gorge. The gorge stretches from west to east for 9 kilometers. The Kazashka River, 14.5 kilometers long, flows through the gorge, which originates from numerous springs on the western slope of the Kumbel-Tau ridge.
At an altitude of 1867 meters above sea level, the Kazashka River receives a tributary from the right, Terisbutak, 4 kilometers long, originating from the springs of the northern slope of the Kumbel-Tau ridge. Our excursion will start from the Kumbel hotel, which is located 5 kilometers above the mouth of the Kazashka River.
We will visit a picturesque birch grove on the northern slope, above which there will be individual and group trees of Sievers apple, cherry plum, small-leaved elm, and apricot. We will gradually walk down the road and visit the monitoring site of the Sivers apple tree in the valley of the Kazachka River, located in the lower third of a steep (about 45 degrees) gravelly, rocky slope of southwestern exposure (1500 meters above sea level).
The dimensions of the site are 50 x 50 meters. 3 species of trees grow here - apricot, Sivers apple tree, Djungarian hawthorn (Crataegus songorica C. Koch) and 4 types of shrubs - meadowsweet (Spiraea lasiocarpa Kar. et Kir.), rosehip (Rosa platyacantha Schrenk), Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica L.), gester (Rhamnus cathartica L.). Lunch in nature.
After lunch, transfer to the Ayusai visitor center (3 km). Visit to the visitor center, walk in the surrounding area. Transfer to the Sunkar bird nursery (3 km). The Birds of Prey show starts at 5 p.m. The performance involves several species of birds of prey, demonstrating under the guidance of a golden eagle falconer; you can see various methods of hunting.
Viewers will learn about the history of falconry, biological features and lifestyle of birds of prey. After the end of the show, transfer to the hotel (18 km), arrival in Almaty, end tour.

Author program by Alexander Petrov. Copying and use of the material - with the permission of the author.

Authority of introductory article:
“Sivers apple tree in Ile-Alatau National Park: results and prospects of monitoring Ainabekov M.S., Turekhanova R.M. Ile-Alatau State National Natural Park.”

Photos by
 Alexander Petrov.