Imantau: pearl of Blue Mountains in North Kazakhstan

ASTANA – Imantau natural zone, in the North Kazakhstan region, is popular with tourists keen on fishing and camping. Its low mountains, beautiful lake and dense forests are within Kokshetau (Kazakh for Blue Mountain) National Park.

Photo credit: yvision.kz

Photo credit: yvision.kz

The natural zone occupies a large portion of Aiyrtau region, stretching 70 kilometres north to south and 65 kilometres east to west. The mountains, forests and lakes form a special microclimate, providing habitat for elk, deer, wild boar, badgers and foxes. Angling enthusiasts appreciate the opportunity to visit Imantau Lake, which is rich in carp, perch, pike and crucian carp.

The waterway, located 400 kilometres from the capital, attracts tourists who enjoy spending a night in a tent in the mountain foothills. The average depth is 5.7 metres, although it reaches a maximum of 10 metres; it is 13.1 kilometres long and 4.8 kilometres wide. The southwest shore of the fresh lake is steep, rocky and covered with predominantly pine forest. The northwest is a sandy bay and the other coasts are flat and covered with vegetation typical of the steppe.

Tourists can use the services of Visit Burabay (instagram @visitburabay), a community which organises adventure trips throughout Kazakhstan.

“Once you get to Imantau, you can go straight to the foot of the mountain and see a camping site with numerous tents there. Although it is difficult to climb the rocky mountain and the wind is strong there, the view from the top is spectacular. The scenery is completely different from that in Burabai; there are no crowds and the water is especially clean. So, I believe that the pristine nature of Imantau is perfect for tourists who want to go off the beaten track,” said team member Assan Toleu.

Photo credit: moya-planeta.ru

Photo credit: moya-planeta.ru

The special feature of the lake is the 16-hectare, heart-shaped island. Juniper bushes grow on the outer part, while the inner portion is filled with pine, birch, cherry trees and berries. Tourists can reach the uninhabited land by boat.

Imantau zone is easily accessible, as roads from Kokshetau and Kostanai lead to the village of the same name. Visitors are advised to take a crossover or a four-wheel drive vehicle.

“We drove from Astana to Kokshetau and then went to Imantau using GPS. Although the highway to Burabai is good, the road to Imantau village is bumpy. So, you need to make sure your car is reliable. There are not many housing facilities, although there are a few houses available for rent, since people mostly stay in tents. We made friends with Russian tourists who come to Imantau every summer from Omsk and Tyumen. They stay there for weeks living in tents and cooking food outside,” said Toleu.

Several nearby residential facilities are available in addition to the camp site. Solnechnoe, for example, provides different types of houses as well as traditional Kazakh yurts, therapeutic services using horns and antler’s blood and guided tours of the region.

Kokshetau National Park also includes Aiyrtau, Shalkar and Zerenda natural zones. Saumalkol and Zerenda lakes, like Imantau, are fresh; Shalkar Lake is famous for its salty water and therapeutic mud.