Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan)

According to, Ust-Kamenogorsk is the administrative center of the East Kazakhstan region, located on the border with Russia and China.

The Ust-Kamenogorsk fortress of the Irtysh line of fortifications was founded in 1720 by the detachments of the Russian army sent here by Peter I. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Ust-Kamenogorsk settlement was the center of trade with Mongolia and China, and in 1868 acquired the status of a city. By the beginning of the 20th century, Ust-Kamenogorsk became the center of the gold mining industry in the Kazakh part of Altai.

Today, Ust-Kamenogorsk is the starting point for traveling through the Altai Mountains. Ski base “Altai Alps” is located 22 km from Ust-Kamenogorsk. The base has 4 ski slopes: one slope for beginners with a length of 1500 m, two slopes for amateurs with a length of 900 and 1000 m and one slope for professionals with a length of 850 m. You can climb to the tops of the slopes by cable car. In addition, in the “Altai Alps” there are tracks for snowboarders and for sledding and snowtubes. The infrastructure of the ski base includes equipment rental, a ski school, hotels, a swimming pool, a sauna, cafes and restaurants.

From Ust-Kamenogorsk you can go to nature protection zones located on the border with Russia. First of all, this is the Katon-Karagay State National Natural Park. The area of the park is 643.5 thousand hectares. This is the largest national park in Kazakhstan. About 34% of the park’s territory is covered with forest, where mainly coniferous species are represented: spruce, Siberian cedar, larch and fir. The park is home to such rare animals and birds as the Altai snowcock, black stork, gray and belladonna cranes, imperial eagle, osprey, saker falcon, peregrine falcon, hook-nosed scoter, snow leopard and stone marten. The Katon-Karagai National Park is crossed by the Austrian road, 50 km long. The road is unofficially called “Austrian” because it was built between 1914 and 1916 by Austrian prisoners of war from the First World War. The Austrian road is the most popular route of the park, it passes through its main attractions: the Marble Pass, the Altai and Burkhat passes and the northern branch of the Great Silk Road. In the Burkhat Pass (2141 m) there are rare snow leopards, which are a symbol of Altai, and mountain goats – teks. In good weather, from here you can see the two-headed mountain Belukha (4506 m) – the highest peak of Altai and Siberia, located on the territory Russia. From the Katon-Karagai National Park, you can go on an assault on this majestic mountain. At 100 km from the Burkhatsky pass on the shore of the Rakhmanovsky lake there is a high-mountain sanatorium “Rakhmanovskie Klyuchi”. It functions on the basis of local thermal radon springs with water temperature from +34 to +42 degrees. The sanatorium treats diseases of the musculoskeletal system, peripheral and central nervous system and various skin diseases. In the vicinity of the sanatorium, it is worth visiting the Kokkol waterfall 60 m high and 10 m wide. Also in the park is an interesting deer farm, which contains about a hundred deer – red deer. In ancient times, the northern branch of the Great Silk Road passed through the current territory of the park, which connected the Central Asian regions of Mongolia. and China with the Irtysh and further west with Europe.

You can also get acquainted with the nature of Western Altai in the Western Altai State Nature Reserve. The area of the reserve is 86 thousand hectares. The “black taiga” stretches here, consisting of dense fir-spruce forests, and there are about 50 species of mammals and 200 species of birds. In the reserve there is a natural monument “Stone City”, consisting of granite remnants. The Markakol State Nature ReserveĀ also deserves attention., which was created to preserve and study the unique ecosystem of the mountain lake Markakol, located at an altitude of 1447 m. Lake Markakol is one of the largest lakes in Altai, its area is 455 square meters. km. More than 100 rivers and streams flow into it, and only one river, the Kalzhyr, flows out of the lake. About 700 species of plants are found in the reserve. Mammals are represented by 55 species, including elk, roe deer, deer, wild boar, brown bear, wolf, wolverine, ermine, polecat, weasel, badger, Siberian weasel, sololongoy, otter, sable, American mink, snow leopard is occasionally found. There are also 250 species of birds here. In the waters of Lake Markakol, fish such as grayling, char, gudgeon and lake uskuch live. Lake uskuch is a kind of Siberian lenok, it is found only in Markakol.

In addition, in the East Kazakhstan region, in a vast tectonic intermountain depression, there is Lake Zaisan with an area of 1800 square meters. km. The mighty Siberian river Irtysh flows from this freshwater lake. The lake is surrounded by desert landscapes and small Kazakh villages. The lake is inhabited by 32 species of fish, which attracts lovers of fishing. The most popular fishing is for pike, zander and perch. In the vicinity of Lake Zaisan is one of the most mysterious sights of the country “City of Spirits” Kiin-Kerish. Here, in the middle of the desert, you can see red rocks and cliffs resembling castles, towers and yurts. Red rocks are nothing more than deposits of tertiary clays exposed as a result of weathering. The landscape of Kiin-Kerish is truly extraterrestrial, similar to the Martian one. It is believed that this place has the strongest energy; even in ancient times it was used for ritual sacrifices. The most interesting thing is that in the red clays of Kiin-Kerish, prints of tropical vegetation and remains of fossil vertebrates from the Mesozoic were found.

To the east of Ust-Kamenogorsk is the city of Semipalatinsk , where in 1949, for the first time in the USSR, a nuclear weapon was tested.

Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan)