ASTANA – The period of EXPO 2017 coincides with peak holiday season in Kazakhstan. In Astana, for most of the population, that will mean trips to Borovoye.
Borovoye, a village built around a lake of the same name, is Astana’s closest getaway destination and probably its most visited. The area is a lovely getaway both for those who like to simply relax and look at great views on their vacations and for people who need to burn off energy swimming, hiking or otherwise actively engaged in their surroundings.
“Tour operators have developed seven tourist packages that cover more than 30 routes in the Shchuchinsk-Borovoye resort zone and the Korgalzhyn nature reserve,” said head of the Tourism Department of Akmola region Shynarbek Batyrkhanov.
Tour packages include an excursion to the best sites in Borovoye, including historical sites like Abylai Khan meadow with its famous granite throne. Kazakhstan’s strangely delicious national fermented milk product, kumis, is sold at the tour stops for 600 tenge ($2), as are other dishes like baursaks (fried doughnuts), as well as souvenirs.
Another historical site nearby is Zhailau ethnographical village. Zhailau recreates the life of nomadic peoples who lived in yurts (nomadic mobile felt houses) and raised stock. The open-air tour offers one-hour horse rides far from the city bustle.
Lake Borovoye is only one of several lakes close to the village, but it is considered the most beautiful and distinguished by its size. Located 70 kilometres from the city of Kokshetau, the blue waters of the lake are extremely popular among locals and foreign tourists.
Burabai National Park, the zone of mountains that surrounds Lake Borovoye, is perhaps Borovoye’s major destination. The mountains that ring the lakes offer fun for hikers and climbers.
A stunning panorama of Borovoye and Big Chebachie Lakes, Zhumbaktas Rock and Okzhetpes Mountain opens from Bolekau Mountain at a height of 147 metres. Those who travel by car can park their vehicles in specially designated parking lots. Climbing Okzhetpes Mountain, with a height of more than 300 metres, requires special equipment. The highest mountain in Borovoye, 947-metre Kokshetau Mountain, however, is walkable. It takes about four to five hours to go to the top and back.
Summer in Borovoye is not as hot as in other places in the country because of the nearby water and the mountains that provide shade and protection from the wind.
The lakeside offers a variety of accommodations with numerous hotels in all price ranges, spas and rest houses. The soft mountain climate, clean air and curative mud make relaxing here not only pleasant but also beneficial for one’s health, locals believe. There are also hostels and houses and apartments for rent. One-day accommodation cost starts from 10,000 tenge (US$31), but usually not higher than 35,000 tenge (US$110) for two people, according to booking.com.
Guides advise staying at the Kokshetau, Zhekebatyr or Dostyk hotels, all of which have modern rooms, saunas, swimming pools, bars and cafes, cosy restaurants and parking facilities.
Borovoye is also the one of the country’s main gaming area. Cash Ville Casino is located in Borovoye’s Rixos Hotel. Cash Ville is one of the biggest and most luxurious casinos in Central Asia, according to boora.info, promising to provide European-level service. It has 50 gaming tables, where visitors can play American roulette, black jack, baccarat and the most popular forms of poker. The hotel provides discounts for casino visitors.
You can get to Borovoye by car, bus or minibus and electric train. The journey takes three or four hours. Buses and route taxis leave from the Saparzhai-Astana bus station.