New Turgensai Visitor Center in Ile Alatau National Park to Foster Ecotourism in Almaty Region

NUR-SULTAN – The Turgensai visitor center unveiled its doors on July 9 in the Ile-Alatau National Park in the Almaty Region, reports the government’s press service. The new center, the second in the national park after the Ayusai visitor center, is expected to boost eco-tourism development in the region. 

The new visitor center is second in the Ile Alatau National Park. Photo credit: primeminister.kz

Located 80 kilometers from Almaty, the Turgensai visitor center will become a starting point on one’s journey through the protected areas of the Turgensai Gorge, a favorite place for camping, hiking and mountain biking among locals. The center has an information desk, a lecture hall, a souvenir shop, a catering facility, a playground and terraces.

The Turgensai gorge opens up different landscapes and biomes from waterfalls to high peaks. The journey will include a spring Kiyeli-Bulak, an ostrich farm, a trout farm, Medvezhiy and Karakskiy waterfalls, Chinturgen spruce forest, the Turgen and Kishi Turgen rivers. Right from the center, a 1.3-kilometer hiking trail, accessible for all, leads to the Medvezhiy waterfall.

With its abundance of national parks, the Almaty Region is a key area for the development of ecotourism, said Deputy Prime Minister Yeraly Tugzhanov, who attended the opening ceremony. 

The visits to national parks in the region in 2021 reached 1.5 million surpassing the pre-pandemic figures of 2019. By the end of 2022, the plan is to increase the number of visitors to national parks to 1.6 million.

There are seven waterfalls in the gorge, but only three – Medvezhiy, Kairak and Skalistiy – are accessible for tourists and hikers. Photo credit: primeminister.kz

“The results of the six months of this year also show good growth in attendance. All this indicates high rates of development of ecotourism and rising popularity of ecotourism among the population,” said Tugzhanov. 

The government plans to open similar visitor centers in two national parks – Altyn-Emel and Charyn with camping and glamping zones.

The opening of the center comes at a time when the country’s tourism industry is experiencing a recovery. Last year witnessed 6.9 million domestic tourists, a record figure compared to 2020 and 2019. The country expects around 700,000 foreign tourists by the end of the year. Hopes are high following the resumption of international air travel with 28 countries on 107 routes as well as visa-free travel for citizens of 77 countries. 

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