Lake Balkhash

Lake Balkhash is the third largest body of water without an outlet to the open ocean, behind the Caspian Sea and Aral Sea. It is 614 kilometers long, with width ranging from as narrow as 3.5 kilometers to as wide as 44 kilometers, and its maximum depth is 26 meters.

What makes the Lake Balkhash unique is the different compositions between the eastern and western parts of the lake. Connected by a narrow gulf, the eastern part is salty and the western part, which receives water from the Ili River, is fresh.

The legend of Lake Balkhash tells the tale of a rich man, Balkhash, who had a beautiful daughter named Ili. During a feast, Balkhash promised to give his daughter to the winner of a contest. Since Ili was in love with Karatal, a shepherd, she helped him win.

However, Balkhash didn’t want to give his daughter to a shepherd, and so the two lovers ran away. The angry father was not able to catch Ili and Karatal, so he turned them both into rivers and turned himself into a lake between them.

Lake Balkhash is home to an assortment of animals for viewing, hunting, or fishing, including pelicans, wild boars, white swans, foxes, and catfish.

Charyn Canyon

The Charyn Canyon is an 80 kilometer canyon traversing the Charyn River. It is often referred to as the Grand Canyon’s little brother, being the second largest canyon in the world.

The slopes of the canyon are steep, reaching heights of 150 to 300 meters. The canyon’s depth has actually preserved a species of rare ash trees from the Ice Age era, which can still be found growing in some parts of the canyon.

One part of the Charyn Canyon, the Valley of Castles, is known for its unusual rock formations. The constant exposure to wind and water have caused the sandstone rocks in the area to form fancy shapes and figures that are reminiscent of story characters and popular figures.

The Charyn Canyon is a breathtaking sight to behold. It’s not as massive as the Grand Canyon, but it is still a natural beauty worth seeing.

 The Singing Barhan

Across the Ili River, northeast of Almaty, there exists a strange mountain named the Singing Barhan, or the Singing Mountain.

This 120 meter high and 1.5 kilometer long sand mountain is made of light tone sands which blend against the dark background of the ridges of the Dzungarian Alatau.

In dry weather, when the sand runs down the slope of the mountain due to the winds coming from the banks of the Ili River, a sound is formed. This sound can either be very faint or very loud. Sometimes, when the mountain is making very loud sounds, it can even start shaking, resulting in what feels like an earthquake.

The sound is caused by the movement of the sand through the slope as it rubs with the other sand particles. The phenomenon can also be observed in the Arabian Desert, and on the Hawaiian Islands.

Baikonur Cosmodrome

The Baikonur Cosmodrome is the world’s largest and oldest space launch facility that is still in operation. This is Central Asia’s version of the United States’ Cape Canaveral – a sprawling complex of structures and machines all working together to ensure successful launches for space exploration.

Located in Kazakhstan’s desert steppes, a short drive from the city of Leninsk, the Baikonur Cosmodrome has been the launch point of most Russian space exploration projects.

Tourists who wish to visit must give a notice to the Cosmodrome at least 45 days before visiting to gain access to the grounds. If you are lucky, you might even witness actual spacecraft launches, which special tourism agencies can arrange for you.

It was from the Baikonur Cosmodrome that Yuri Gagarin, the first man to enter space, took off. Since then, there have been countless launches here, all adding to the world’s history of space exploration.

Duman Entertainment Center Aquarium

The Aquarium of the Duman Entertainment Center in Astana is a tourist attraction that allows visitors to dive into the mystical world living just beneath the surface of the oceans.

Located over 3,000 kilometers away from the ocean, the Aquarium needed 3 million liters of water and 120 tons of special sea salt to simulate the water of the ocean. The Aquarium also has a life support system made up of 11 kilometers of pipes, 34 massive pumps, 6 large, 200,000 liter sand filters, and a water clearing system.

The Aquarium is composed of a large main tank and two separate exhibition areas with eleven tanks. Tourists can visit the exhibition areas to view the various aquatic life in each aquarium, or go on a moving walkway that passes through a 70 meter long tunnel made of clear acrylic under the main tank.

The Aquarium at the Duman Entertainment Center is a truly unique experience, especially given the fact that Kazakhstan is a landlocked country.


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