Lost World on the outskirts of Almaty

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There is one unique place nearthe Almaty, which is a small kingdom of pristine nature, almost within the precincts of a one and a half million megalopolis. Therefore, there is a feeling that it is located in a parallel world. It is like Shambhala, closed to people with bad intentions. Although, if you have a pure thoughts, it ispretty simple to get there.

The road to the big valley starts at the first turn up a block away from the store Ak- Bota atthe edge of the uptown residential sector, called old-fashioned,an accountable farm of MIA. Previously, it was a part of the state farm Alatau, and it became a part of state protected zoneafter 1936. Now, it is a specially protected area of the Ile-Alatau National Park, designed, according to the forester BegembetovBeldik, to recreate endangered animals. Therefore, check point with gates and guards stays at the entrance to the gorge.

Also, there are no cafes or restaurants, or any recreation areas, like in the canyons of Small and Big Almatinka. Thus, a truly reserved place formed in the Ile-Alatau National Park, due to the status of a protected area. It is a paradise for true lovers of hiking in the wilderness. Such people never leave garbage behind, do not break trees, do not make noise in the mountains, and foresters do not have any complaints about them.

After check point, you will have a four-kilometerwalk, along the pretty good road, gradually rising in the wide valley on the right side of the riverAspantay. Pictorial hills riseon the both sides of the valley, brushes of the impressionists likeCezanne, Monet and Van Gogh are crying to paint them. Ocher- yellow hills are one the south-west side, and a snow-white are on the north-east, as if they were lined by rows of fruit trees. Well-managed apple orchardsare stretched on the both sides of the road. Seeing crowns of the trees bestrewn with the huge apples, you can see for yourself that an idea of reviving famous and unique breed, Oporto apples, is becoming true.

Vegetation becomes more and more wildas you approach the ridge Aidar, towering over the city from Big Almatinka to Small Almatinka. The first spruces can be found at the beginning of Elan crest, spur of ridge Aidar. At this point, the road becomes steeper and serpentine starts. Before descent, at the divarication, you will see a large billboard, announcing that here starts Gorge Abdrahmansaiy and tour number one of inspector BegembetovKairat of the Kamenskoe forestry.

I met forester Kairat two years ago, during one of my hikes. And just recently he told me that this gorge is named after his father, whose portrait is on the billboard. It turned out that he was a forester too, and he conscientiously worked in the forestry for about fifty years. And before, the gorge and a river, running along its bottom,had a cacophonous name "Toadstool". This is due to the fact that some places are swamped,near the shores of the river. Boars like to take a baththere.

According to Kairat,a she-bear with two cubs and one adult bear have been livingin this valley since some years ago. But when I met him this autumn, he told me that more bears live here now. He also said that they eat mainly vegetarian food: raspberries, haws, hips, apples and different roots,but, on occasion, can catch a roe-deer for lunch. Wolves (they arehere too?!) are carnivorous to the bone, boars and deer are their main food.

Recently, a new royal breed of deer appeared in these places - marals. Occasionally you can see a lynx. By the way, to avoid encounters with hungry wolvesit is not recommended to stay there after sunset, especially in winter time. Attacks of wolves, havenot been registered so far, but it is better if there will be none. If you decide to hike here start you journey early in the morning, so you can getout before nightfall. Before, Ioften stayed here late and walked down alone in the dark, but after I heard this story about wolves I no longer want to do that.

If you follow the upper road, closer to the woody ridge Aidar, it isrout number 1,responsibility of Begembetov Kairat, and if you choose a lower road it will be routnumber 2, responsibility of his brother, Begembetov Beldik. I met him a few years ago too. The story about former name of river Aspantay I learned from him.

Beldik makes his detour on a small piebald with size of a tall pony. According to him it is an Altai breed. It is interesting that even the ancient Chinese noted that on the Altai lived tribe "Boma",those who ride piebald, and this people had light eyes and fair hair, but language differedfrom their blondeneighbors. Maybe they were relatives of the ancient Celts? After all, modern representatives - Scots, Irish and Bretons also have a piebald and ponies. Once Beldik invited me to his home and I shared my hypotheses with him, and found a response, turned out, that he is also interested in the history of migration and origin of various ethnic groups. His house is located on the left side of river Aspantay. And Kairat’s cordon is on the right side, if you go up, between the river andthe road.

Above the forester’s housesis a road surrounded by the fabulous oak grove interspersed with apple orchards. Further the road will dodge from side to side and up and down, repeating turns of river and gorge, surrounded by all kinds of trees mixed together. There are oak and apple trees, willows and spruces, maples and pines, hawthorn and aspen, rowan and birch.

And how many varieties of apples are here! For example, there is an Oporto apple orchard just before Sasha's crest that branching of the ridge Aidar, and fringing the gorge on the left. The orchard is protected from any weather conditions by the Oakwood that carefully surrounded it on all sides. Furtheris another apple orchard of Kandil breed, which is locatedbefore Leshkinpinery. And other breeds of apples grow interspersed with wild spruces on the lower part of the slope of the ridge Aidar.

So many trees of different species were planted with a such love and skill many years ago. Thanks to Abdrakhman agha, who dedicated to this forest five decades of his life, and to all other people, who helped to create and save such a wonderfulplace. Thanks to the sons of Abdrahmanaga, Beldik and Kairat Begembetov,who savedwild and virginal purity of this “lost world” of Kamenskoe forestry,up to now.

Oh, I almost forgot about the story that Kairattold me. The president of the Republic of Kazakhstan visited this place sometime in 1992. He enjoyed a walk in the beautiful valley, and then he asked Kairat if he has any requests. So Kairat ask him to make surethat this gorge will remain untouched, so the unique flora and fauna of this valley will be preserved.

"I was worried after – remembers Kairat – because I asked him in a not very nice way. But on the other hand, so many years have passed, everywhere are construction sites and here is nothing. So thanks for that to our president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Here is a wonderful place on the outskirts of large Almaty, representing a unique combination of cultivated and wild apple orchards and pristine mountain forest composed of spruces, pines, birches and many other plants. “Lost World” in the city, which is the home for wild bears, deer, roe deer, wolves, wild boars and other animals.

It is really amazing how fragile is the equilibrium that established between the world of wildlife and one and ahalf million megalopolis. City is quite close to national park. According to Kairat Begembetov it is only 5.5 kilometers from hiscordon to the upper city street.

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