Katon-Karagay is located in the picturesque region of Southern Altai and, being in Kazakhstan, borders on the one hand with Russia, and on the other with China. In the field of tourism, the Katon-Karagai region is a dynamically developing region of East Kazakhstanю Although the area is agricultural, the tourism industry is developing too. This is the largest specially protected natural object of Kazakhstan. The territory is remote, inaccessible and unusually picturesque. One of those places on the planet where the silence of nature hasn’t yet been broken and the human foot has gone far not everywhere.
You’ll see snowy mountain peaks and picturesque valleys here, also hundreds of mountain streams between forested mountain ranges. Forests occupy one-third of the territory of the national park. Local cedars, larches, and birches are protected by the state, so the lumberjacks can’t reach here.
The climate in these places is severe, in the scientific language - sharply continental, in the summer it can be quite hot, and in winter there are severe frosts of -45 degrees. The tops of the mountains are clad in massive layers of glaciers, which is why Katon-Karagay abounds in mountain rivers and streams.
This area has gained wide popularity due to the presence of a large number of transparent deep-sea lakes, and high mountains. Currently, there are several nature reserves in the Katon-Karagai Territory, under the protection of which there are unique representatives of flora and fauna, for example: maral which is also called red deer, red wolf, black stork, Wolverine, and others.
The most favorable conditions have been created for unity with nature in this region. You can not only enjoy the view but also take hundreds of amazing pictures to remember a fascinating journey through the expanses of Kazakhstan.
In Katon-Karagai there are about 30 species of animals and birds listed in the Red Book. In 2014, the park was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And these are just some of the reasons why you should definitely visit this unusual corner of the planet.
Reason 1: Take a ferry ride
The path to the Katon-Karagai national park lies through Ust-Kamenogorsk, the center of the East Kazakhstan region. Two hours by car - and you have a view of the largest reservoir in Kazakhstan - Bukhtarminsky. This is the only place in the country where you can use the services of a ferry.
The ferry crossing is a rare way of transportation in Kazakhstan. The platform accommodates about two dozen cars. 30 minutes on the way - and you are already on the opposite side of the Bukhtarma reservoir. While the ferry brings you to the right shore, you can admire the beauties of the Bukhtarma reservoir. It is also called the inland sea. These places were filled with water back in 1960, during the construction of the Bukhtarma hydroelectric dam on the Irtysh River. Another two hours drive on - and you are in Katon-Karagai National Park.
Reason 2: Belukha Mountain
The most recognizable object of this park is Belukha Mountain. The highest point of Altai and Siberia. The sacred peak of Buddhists, Old Believers, and mystics. Incredibly majestic, picturesque and inaccessible place. You can’t get there by car - you have to reach the mountain on foot, by helicopter or on horseback. Belukha does not let everyone close to itself. Maybe you heard myths, secrets, and legends about this mountain. This is one of the few mountains on the planet whose sacredness is accepted by all three world religions. Many claims that it is the place where the mysterious Shambhala is located. From ancient times, the Turks believed that Umai lives on Belukha - a female Goddes who was inferior in strength only to the powerful Tengri. Someone believes that from here the great Buddha Gautama came to India.
Reason 3: Take baths at the Rakhmanov springs
There are several mountain lakes in the Katon-Karagai National Park. This is one of the most picturesque, called Rakhmanov. From the height of Rachmanov Lake looks like a bear. The natural temperature here is 37-40 degrees. Settling on the skin of a person with water, radon has a stimulating and regenerating effect. People who once visited the Rakhmanov Springs will definitely come back here. And the matter is not only in the medical component. There is a special spiritual atmosphere.
Reason 4: Visit the local waterfalls
Another reason to visit Katon-Karagai is to admire its delightful waterfalls. There are several dozen waterfalls of various types on the mountain rivers of the national park. Don’t forget to take photos!
Reason 5: See maral
It is not difficult to see wild deer — maral - in Katon-Karagai. If you want, people there will show you the place where those deer walk. And believe me, animals will be okay, while you stand five hundred meters from them. But once you step a little closer - the deer will disappear as the wind blows. In the wild, this is one of the most cautious animals! Man for maral is the worst enemy, like a wolf or a leopard. For the ancient tribes that lived here, these animals were cult.
Today there is a whole network of hospitals in Katon-Karagai. Despite the high prices, there are a lot of tourists here. The regional council has even developed a whole program for recreational tourism in the region.
The most curious thing is that, despite the extreme environmental conditions, truly unique productions have appeared and are developing in Katon-Karagai. It certified 32 medicinal preparations based on antlers, honey, and herbs.
These are the main reasons why people overcome borders to see places that will not let themselves be forgotten.