Steppes and mountains of Kazakhstan create a unique landscape of the country.
Mountains in Kazakhstan, being either low or high, contribute to the beauty of Kazakhstan nature and offer many opportunities for holidays and recreation, attracting many tourists every year.
Central and Western parts of Kazakhstan are considered as Low-mounitain region, whereas in the East and South-East parts of Kazakhstan
Saryarka (Kazakh hills) is located in Central Kazakhstan (Karaganda region and Akmola region). It stretches 1200 km from west to east , the average height of these mountains is 500-600m; in the west, width of the hills reaches 900 km, in the east - 350 km.
In the north, Saryarka borders with West Siberian Plain, in the south, with Lake Balkhash and the desert of Betpak Dala, in the east, merges with the mountain system of Saur-Tarbagatai, in the west, adjoins to the Turgay plateau. Among the highest mountains of these hills are: Aksorgan (1565 m), Karkaraly (1403 m), Chingiztau (1305 m), Ulytau (1133 m). Shuchinsk-Borovoe resort zone is considered as a pearl of Saryarka. Local residents call this land "Kazakh Switzerland" due to clear blue lakes surrounded by beautiful mountains of Kazakh hills, which became a favorite destination of tourists from the CIS countries.
Mugodzhars - a low stony ridge – is the southern spur of the Ural Mountains (West Kazakhstan region). The highest point of Mugodzhars is Large Boktybay Mount (657 m). The length of the ridge is 450 km from north to south. Rivers Shiyli and Terisbutak originate on the western slopes of Mugodzhars, and River Oka is formed at their further confluence (left tributary of the Ural Mountains). To the south of the ridge, the sandy desert "Big Badgers" stretches, separating Mugodzhary from the Aral Sea.
Mangystau Mountains is situated in the eponymous peninsula of the Caspian Sea (Mangystau region). The composition of the mountain range includes: southern and northern ridges of Aktau (70 km), as well as western and eastern ridges of Kara-Tau (117 km). The highest point of Mangystau mountains is Besshoky (556 m). Another attraction of the ridge is Karagiye Hollow, depth of which is 132 m below sea level. Karagiye is the lowest point in Kazakhstan.
Altay is a part of a huge Altay-Sayan mountain system located between Lakes Baikal and Zaisan (East Kazakhstan region). The territory of Kazakhstan covers the south-western tip of the Altay. Due to the topographic features of the Kazakh Altay, it is divided into three regions - the Southern Altay, Rudny Altay, Kalba Range.
The Southern Altay because of its geographical position captures the territory of several states - Kazakhstan, Russia and China. A part of the Southern Altay that lies on the territory of Kazakhstan is the Western part of the mountains. Rivers Aqaba and Bukhtarma originate here, forming a basin of Irtysh. The highest points of the western part of the Southern Altay Mountains are Krutinka (3276.9 m) and Altykyz (2906.6 m). The highest mountain passes here are Shagandaba (2638.4 m), Green (2952 m), Krymza (2836.0 m), Ugulgun (2897.1 m).
Rudny Altay is situated in the south-western part of the Altay Mountains. It consists of Ulba (2300 m), Ivanovo (2775 m), Ubinsky (2100 m) mountain ranges. These mountains originated more than 200 million years ago at the former site of the sea. Deposits of such minerals as copper, zinc, tin, lead, silver, gold and others were found in the depth of Rudny Altay.
The Ridge Kalba is also located in the southwestern part of the Altay Mountains. Its length is about 400 km. Height of these mountains varies from 450 to 1500 m. The highest point of the Ridge Kalba is Saryshoky (1606 m). On the west side, the ridge gradually decreases and merges with Saryarka. Deposits of gold and polymetallic ores were discovered in the mountains of the Ridge Kalba.
Saur-Tarbagatai is a mountain range consisting of two parts: Saur (located on the border of East-Kazakhstan region) and Tarbagatai (located 70 km south-east of the city Ayaguz). The length of the ridge Saur is 140 km. Here, the highest point is Mount Muztau (3,816 m). Siberian larches and firs, as well as the Tien-Shan spruces grow on the northern slopes of Saur. The total length of Tarbagatay is 250 km. The highest point of the ridge is Okpety (2,995 m). At the top of Tarbagatay River Urdzhar originates - one of the tributaries of Lake Sassyk-kul. Tarbagatai is a habitat of animals such as argali (mountain sheep), partridge, wolf and deer.
Zhungar Tau. Location: the eastern part of Kazakhstan (between the river Ili and lake Alakol - Almaty region). The total length of massif is about 400 km. Zhungar Tau occupies an intermediate position between the central Asian mountain system Tien Shan and the mountains of southern Siberia.
The longest mountain range of Zhungar Tau is Northern, the southwest branch of which is the famous ridge Karatau. Among the southern ridges of Zhungar Tau are: Toksanbay, Bedzhintau and Tyshkantau.
The average height of mountain is 3,580 m. The main ranges of Zhungar Tau reach a height of 4000 meters and above. For example: the highest point of the ridge Toksambay is 4,062 m, the ridge Tyshkantau - 4359 m.
The length of glaciers of Zhungar Tau at some points exceeds the 8-kilometer mark.
The massif is a habitat of mountain goats, mountain sheep, gazelle (Gazelle), Asiatic wild asses. The latter were brought here from the island Barsakelmes. On the territory of Zhungar Tau there are many historical monuments. In the mountains, tourists have opportunity to see rock carvings made by primitive people. In the foothills, there are mounds and ritual structures, built of huge stones.
Tien-Shan mountain country is located in the south-eastern part of Kazakhstan (Almaty region). The territory of the republic covers almost the entire North, partly Western and Central Tien Shan. It should be noted that the Central Tien Shan is located on the border between China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. By the way, the highest point of Kazakhstan is particularly in this part of the mountain - Khan-Tengri peak (6995 m).
Khan-Tengri Peak (in translation - "Lord of the Spirits") - one of the most beautiful peaks of the Central Tien Shan. Since ancient times, the mountain top, which is crowned by a pyramid of marble, has been shrouded in legend. That is why, in addition to the official name - Khan-Tengri, the peak has a few more names - Tengritau (Mountain God), Kantau (Blood Mountain), etc.
Khan Tengri is the most northerly seventhousander in the world (Almaty region). It should be noted that only its northern part is located in Kazakhstan. Climbers call this route the “Northern wall”. Here, the ascent to the mountain is very complicated and can be completed by only professional athletes.
To the west, an array of ridges goes from Khan-Tengri. The largest of them is Terskey Tau. On its eastern branch, Kazakhstan borders with Kyrgyzstan.
Belukha Mountain - 4,506 m in height – is located in East Kazakhstan (the border between Kazakhstan and Russia). According to the legend of Buddhists, on the top of Belukha Mountain there is sky-high country of the gods - Shambala, where the great Gautama Buddha began his march to India. According to another legend, Belukha is "the navel of the earth". It is claimed that on the top of the mountain there is invisible energy bridge that connects one of the symbols of Altai directly with the cosmos. So that, all who were able to get to the top of Belukha Mountain would receive loads of spirit and health.
Belukha Mountain has two peaks in the form of irregular pyramids (East Kazakhstan region, Altay Mountains). The height of the eastern summit of the mountain is 4506 m, the western - 4435 m. The climate in this area is severe. Summer air temperature at the top of the mountain often falls to - 20 C.
The slopes of the Belukha have 169 glaciers. The largest of these are: Glacier Sapozhnikov - 13,2 km ², as well as Greater and Lesser Berel glaciers - 12,5 and 8,9 km ², respectively.
Rivers Kucherla, Akkem, Idygem originate from the glaciers on the slopes of mountains. Lynxes, snow leopards, Siberian ibexes are occasionally encountered at Belukha Mountain. The following bird species inhabits in the region: white and tundra partridge, Alpine daw, chough, Himalayan Accentor.
Turgen Gorge is situated in the national park of Ile-Alatau (90 km from Almaty). The gorge is well-known for its hot springs, waterfalls, pine forests, alpine meadows and relict Chin-Turgen mossy spruces. Also, there are many historic monuments, including Saki and Usun burial, dating from 500 - 300 BC.
In Turgen Gorge, there are seven waterfalls, the largest of which are Bear Waterfall(30 meters) and Bozgul Waterfall. A popular tourist destination in the Turgen Gorge is chasseur station “Botan”. It is situated at the confluence of Rivers Turgen, Kishi-Turgenev and Asa. There is a trout farm in the gorge, below the rest house "Sinegorye". Under certain rules, any tourist has an opportunity to catch a fish for a dinner.