TRAVELLING TO KAZAKHSTAN
The diverse landscapes, rich cultural and historical traditions and wildlife variety that characterize the vast territory of Kazakhstan attract the attention of tourists. Kazakhstan has great potential for developing almost every type of tourism, from cultural, educational, ecological, sports and adventure tourism to special interest trips for science, religion, and ornithology.
At present, tourism is an important economic sector, and the government is taking all necessary steps for its development. The legal and regulatory frameworks are being revised. By the year 2001 the Law on Tourism Activities in the Republic of Kazakhstan was adopted, and a State Programme is being drawn up for developing international and domestic tourism. This five-year programme envisages a series of measures for forming a tourist infrastructure, ensuring the safety of tourists, building up the tourist image of Kazakhstan, improving the quality of statistical accounting in the industry, and so forth. More favourable conditions are being created for attracting foreign tourists. As a practical step in this direction, visa procedures have been simplified for citizens of economically developed and politically stable countries. Visitors from 24 countries around the world can obtain visas at consular offices in Almaty and Astana airports. .
19 international cooperation agreements were signed in the field of tourism with countries such as Hungary, Egypt, China, Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria, Iran, Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan among others. l.
Since 1993, Kazakhstan has been a member of the World Tourism Organization (WTO). President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who recognizes the importance of developing this sector, visited the WTO headquarters in Madrid during an official visit to Spain in October 2000. He met WTO Secretary General Francesco Frangialli and expressed his strong interest in international cooperation for developing tourism in Kazakhstan, including cooperation in the framework of the WTO and UNESCO Silk Road project. A plan of action for building the tourist image of Kazakhstan is aimed at promoting tourism in the country.
The mountain skating rink at Medeo is one of the major tourist attractions. Medeo is the name of the gorge where the sports centre of that name and the largest anti-mudflow dam in Central Asia are located. Medeo Sports Centre (built in 1972) includes the largest mountain skating rink in theworld, where 170 world records for speed skating were set. The unique freezing system installed at the rink comprises 170 kilometres of pipes and allows the ice surface to remain in place for 8 month, with ice tracks all year round. During the summer the freezing systems are not used, and in winter the rink is covered with natural ice.
In the late 40's, skiers discovered a remarkable spot at Chimbulak, 2,200 meters above sea level. It was an ideal slope for downhill skiing, naturally long with various surface patterns and, as was later found out, a unique snow composition, which provides better gliding and adhesion. The first downhill piste in the country to measure up to international standards was soon laid there.
For many years now, Chimbulak skiing resort has been one of the favourite training grounds for the best skiers. Its reputation has spread beyond the country's borders. This wonderful corner of Kazakhstan has become world famous. The Chimbulak plateau has become a traditional site for hosting international slalom competitions.
The Tien Shan and Dzhungar Alatau mountain ranges on the southern border of the country, which have well-formed rock glaciers, offer good opportunities for mountain climbing, especially in the mountains of Zailiski Alatau, the Kungei and Terskei Alatau ranges, and the Khan Tengri massif on the North.
There is every possibility that scientific tourism, which is now popular in the West, could be developed in Kazakhstan. For example, the country can offer:
Tours to geological outcrops in the Zailiski and Kungei Alatau and the magnificent Charyn canyons in the east of the Almaty region;
Trips to the habitat and migration areas of saiga in the desert-steppe zone of Kazakhstan, and other wildlife tours;
Wildflower tours to the Chu and Ili mountains and the deserts of the Balkhash region (the Ili river delta);
Borovoye resort was poetically named the Pearl of Kazakhstan for its beauty, being located in the vicinity of a number of lakes, and the rich flora and fauna of the area surrounding them. The combination of mountains, lakes and coniferous woods not only creates a landscape of exceptional beauty, but also a special medicinal climate. Borovoye is an area of health resorts, recreational zones, sports and health camps. Its beauty and uniqueness attract thousands of tourists from different countries who want tospend a vacation there, improve their health and get to know more about the local natural history.
Borovoye is famous for koumiss (a traditional drink made of fermented mare's milk), and medicinal mud and water. The air itself is quite special, filled with the scent of steppe plants and coniferous woods. The number of sunny days is no less than in Crimea, and the bathing season begins in June.
Tourists of all ages, from all over the world, particularly enjoy visitingthe Charyn canyons. Charyn is the "little brother" of Colorado'sGrand Canyon. It is also a unique natural monument, preserved since the paleogene epoch, and has always attracted travelers. Over 30 million years the mountain river has made a deep slash through the rock, over 100-kilometreslong; and the "natural sculptor", the wind, completed the work. Exposed to solar radiation, water and the air, the cliffs of Charyn River have taken on bizarre shapes. They somewhat resemble towers and pillars, which is why the Charyn canyons are sometimes called "the Valley of Castles". The most striking part of the canyon is seven kilometres in length and 250 metres deep.
The Charyn Canyons conservation area is of special interest for scientists. For ten years paleontologists studied the Ili Fauna Complex. It includes amazing species of mammals such as Gromov elephant, Dicerorhinus rhinoceros and the Stenon horse, which are the prototypes of present-day African fauna.