Central Kazakhstan is the place where the enormous number of Bronze Age archaeological monuments is situated. At the same time, there is a number of mountainous and forest oases of the Kazakh Melkosopochnik (the Scythian Mountains was its name according to the writings of Greek historians and geographers) at the territory of the region. This whole totality of historical and natural sights represents an interesting route at the territory of Central Kazakhstan (about 1000 kilometers long) which can be overpassed by bicycle.
Karaganda is the main city of the Central Kazakhstan. The most interesting objects in it are archaeological and ecological museums, as well as the museum of local lore. They can give the most complete idea of the forthcoming journey.
The Bugyly Mountains and ancient settlement, where about 80 constructions of the Bronze Age are situated, and the biggest of the living quarters has the total area of about 500 square meters. Not far from the settlements are the remains of stone cult constructions and necropolises. These places, relatively little known and distant from big cities, are saved in their primeval beauty. And it is still possible to meet here numerous animals, including argali, living in their natural habitat.
The Begazy sepulchers are the most famous archaeological discovery at the territory of Central Kazakhstan. From this very burial ground investigating the Bronze Age culture, which was later called the Begazy-Dandybai culture, began. The discoverer of Begazy was the coryphaeus of Kazakhstani archaeology Alkei Margulan, who carried out the first excavations there in 1947. The total area covered with the Begazy necropolis is about 10 hectares.
The Kyzylarai Mountains are notable for there situated the highest point of the Kazakhskiy Melkosopochnik (Sary-Arka) – the Aksoran Peak (1565 meters). It is an excellent view point (the visibility from the mountain reaches one hundred kilometers). The Kyzylarai Mountains are situated far away from big roads and are famous by the virginal nature.
The Kent ancient settlement belongs to the late Bronze Age. Some scientists consider it a protocity as the settlement is the largest one in Central Kazakhstan. Kent is the settlement which had been inhabited by people who produce bronze ware. Huge furnaces in which the ancient people alloyed copper and tin are the most interesting objects in the settlement.
The Kent Mountains represent much interest because of their pristine environment, moreover, they are untouched by the tourist routes at all. The absence of big rivers and lakes saved this mountain oasis from construction of rest homes and crowds of holiday-makers. Even nowadays it’s very hard to meet tourists here.
The Karkaraly mountain oasis is a real decoration of Central Kazakhstan. There is Karkaraly National Park at its territory. The mountains that are formed mainly of granite are covered by pine and birch forests and shrubs. Numerous lakes beautifying the mountains became places that are interesting to visit and to bathe in. Shaitankol (‘devil’s lake’ from Kazakh) is the most popular lake of the area, covered with legends and stories. There are Nature Museum with a big relief map of the Karkaraly mountain-forest oasis and Wild Animals Enclosure in the Tasbulak Place. In the latter deer, ponies, yaks, bisons and other wild animals can be found.
The town of Karkaralinsk is a district center. It was built in 1824, and there is still much material evidence of its venerable age — wooden houses and narrow streets. The Museum of Local Lore is also of great interest, as well as some other sights located in immediate proximity to the town, Kalmytskiy Rampart in particular.
Altyn-tobe Hills. There is one of few deposits of the unique mineral ashirit-dioptaz also called copper emerald in Karaganda Oblast. This mineral possesses such purity that only specialists can distinguish it from the emerald. Even nowadays underfoot one can often find interesting examples of this wonderful stone in the Altyn-tobe Hills.
The Tegiz-zhol archaeological complex is situated in the Temirkash place not far from the town of Temirtau. This is the settlement of ancient metallurgists with the necropolis located next to it. Tegiz-zhol is a huge complex in which the traces of other epochs can be found. There are represented the Stone Age and the Middle Ages (in particular, Tegiz-zhol was the first place where the material evidence of the fact that the lands round present-day Karaganda belonged to the Turkic Kaganate were found).
Thread of the route
Karaganda city – Topar village, Sherubai-Nura Reservoir – the Bugyly Mountains and ancient settlement – Aksu-Ayuly village and necropolis — Aktogai village – Begazy sepulchers – the Kyzylarai Mountains and the Aksoran Peak – the Kent Mountains and ancient settlement – the Karkaraly mountains and town of Karkaralinsk – Altyn-Tobe Hills and ashirit-dioptaz deposite — Tegiz-zhol archaeological complex — Karaganda city
The length of the cycling part: about 1100 km.
Program of the tour
Arrival to the Sary-Arka airport. Transfer from Sary-Arka airport to Karaganda. Accommodation in the hotel or home-stay. Breakfast. Karaganda city-tour and excursion to the museum of local lore. Lunch. Excursion to the Ecological and archaeological museums. Free time. Dinner.
Breakfast. The beginning of the cycling part of the tour: journey from Karaganda to Topar (about 40 km, 5 hours). Lunch. Rest in the lakeside. Dinner. Overnight stop in the tents.
Breakfast. Journey from Topar to Karamurun (30 km, 4 hours). Lunch. Journey from Karamurun to the Bugyly mountains. Dinner. Overnight stop in the tents.
Breakfast. Excursion to the Bugyly ancient settlement and around the neighboring mountains. In the middle of the day — lunch. Dinner and overnight stop in the tents.
Breakfast. Whole-day journey from the Bugyly mountains to Aksu_ayuly necropolis. Lunch on a half-way. Dinner and overnight stop in the tents not far from the necropolis.
Breakfast. Whole-day journey from Aksu-Ayuly to the border of Shet and aktogai districts. Visiting the museum in the Aksu-Ayuly village. Lunch on a half-way. Dinner and overnight stop in the tents.
Breakfast. Whole-day journey to the Tokyrau Riverside, not far from Aktogai. Lunch on a half-way. Dinner and overnight stop in the tents.
Breakfast. Journey to the Aktogai village, visiting museum. Lunch. Journey from Aktogai to Akshkol village (about 40 km, 4 hours). Dinner in the field and overnight stop in the tents not far from Begazy sepulchers.
Breakfast. Excursion around Begazy sepulchers and ancient settlement. Lunch. Journey from Begazy to Kyzylarai mountains (about 35 km, 3 hours). Dinner in the field and overnight stop in the tents.
Breakfast. Ascent to the Aksoran Peak (about 3-4 hours). Lunch not far from the top. Descending to the camp (about 3 hours). Free time. Dinner.
Breakfast. Journey from the Kyzylarai Mountains to the surroundings of Akkora village (about 55 km, 7 hours) with lunch on the half-way. Dinner and overnight stop short of Akkora.
Breakfast. Journey from Akkora to the Kent Mountains (50 km, 5 hours). Visiting Kent Palace. Lunch. Journey to the archaeologists’ camp (5 km, 0,5 hours). Excursion around Kent ancient settlement and its surroundings. Dinner and overnight stop in archaeologists’ camp in the tents.
Breakfast. Journey from Kent to Karkaralinsk town. Accommodation at the hotel. Lunch. City-tour and free time. Dinner.
Breakfast. Pedestrian excursion to the Devil’s Lake (half a day). Lunch in the mountains. Descent to the Pashennoye Lake. Returning to Karkaralinsk. Dinner and overnight stop in guest-house.
Breakfast. Whole-day journey from Karkaralinsk to the Nura riverside near Ushtau village. Visiting wild animals’ enclosure, nature museum and lunch on the way. Dinner and overnight stop at Nura riverside.
Breakfast. Whole-day journey to Altyn-tobe deposit. Lunch on the half-way. Excursion to the deposit. Dinner and overnight stop in geologists’ camp.
Breakfast. Whole-day journey from Altyn-tobe to Nura riverside near Gabiden Mustafin village. Lunch in Botakara village on the half-way. Dinner and overnight stop at Nura riverside.
Breakfast. Journey to Temirtau town. Visiting the museum. Lunch. Journey to the Tegiz-zhol archaeological complex and excursion. Dinner and overnight stop in archaeologists’ camp in the tents.
Breakfast. Excursion to the Tegiz-zhol archaeological complex. Lunch. Journey from Tegiz-zhol to Karaganda. Accommodation at the hotel or home-stay. Dinner.
Breakfast. Free time in Karaganda. Lunch. Free time and souvenirs purchasing. Dinner. Transfer to train station or to airport.
Cost per person
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The above-mentioned prices include: all the journeys by all-wheel drive minibus according to the program of the tour, accommodation in tents and hotels, three meals a day, cost of visiting national parks and museums, guide-interpreter services, survey printed stuff about places of interest on the route.
The above-mentioned prices do not include: bicycle hire (must be paid extra), escort vehicle during the cycling part of the tour (can be ordered by request), spirits, visa getting price and consular fee, insurance, the price of getting to the starting point of the route (Karaganda city).
The program of the tour might be changed due to the force majeure circumstances, including (but not limited to):
– official prohibitions on visiting specially protected areas (national parks, reserves, sanctuaries, etc.) due to epizootics or epidemics, fire-setting and other reasons;
– official prohibitions on visiting sites, located in the territory of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and Kurchatov town, Saryshagan test site, Baikonur city and Cosmodrome site, and other areas with limited access;
– cancellation/postponement of plane, train and other transfers;
– extreme weather conditions (steppe fire, snowstorms, lasting rainstorms, etc.) and its consequences (washed out roads, snow drifts, damaged bridges, etc.);
– traffic restrictions (closures);
– other natural and administrative circumstances beyond the control of the company “Nomadic Travel Kazakhstan”.