Exploring Bayanaul National Park in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a vast country whose neighbours include Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, China and Russia.  The country has many interesting features, but most tourists come from its immediate neighbours.  Despite this, visitors from Britain and other parts of the world would be rewarded with a stimulating holiday providing they do not expect state-of-the-art facilities.

Bayanaul is a mountainous area in a sandy steppe.  Access is difficult because the road is used by trucks which collect stone and coal from local quarries.  Fortunately the bumpy ride is offset by the beauty of the scenery.  Many of the features of the land figure in local folklore – witches and mythical beasts are celebrated by local poets.

Bayanaul National Park covers almost 70,000 hectares and contains several popular tourist destinations. The most recognisable tourist spot is Lake Jasbay, whose pristine environment has been carefully preserved by the Kazakhstan government.  The lake is set amongst mountains with birches and pine trees dotting the landscape.

As motorised boats are kept off the lake, and commercial development restricted in the area, the water is so clear, visitors can watch the ducks diving to catch fish.  Lake Jasbay is regarded as one of the best for swimming as there are no obstructions in the water apart from the presence of tourism infrastructure.  The temperature in the lake is cool but pleasant enough to attract visitors.

Toraigyr Lake is located near Toraigyr village where the local people collect their water from a spring.  The village can be reached by bus, and the lake is a 15 minute walk from the village, where visitors can enjoy the captivating scenery.  Toraigyr Lake does not have tourist facilities, but as with Jasbay, the scenery makes up for the nuisance.  Tourists who take the opportunity to explore the area further are well rewarded by stunning views amongst the lake and surrounding mountains.

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