ASTANA – Each summer in Kazakhstan, the blossoming lotus flowers become a news highlight, captivating both locals and international visitors.
From mid-July, the Kigash-Shora River begins to be adorned with shades of pink and white as lotus flowers bloom, reaching their peak in August. Located in the Kurmangazy district of the Atyrau Region, close to the border with Russia, it is the only place in the country where lotus bloom covers an expansive area of up to 5,000 hectares, according to the region’s communications service.
During the peak blooming season, the river sees a consistent influx of admirers, with as many as 50 tourists daily, drawn to the splendor of the lotus in full bloom.
According to Nurlybek Tulepov, head of the Kurmangazy District Department of Entrepreneurship and Tourism, the number of tourists is growing every year. Some are concerned that the flood of tourists might create a risk for the plants.
“The lotus valley is included in the Red Book (lists of rare and endangered species) and is a protected natural area. Regrettably, some tourists fail to appreciate its significance: instances of vandalism are reported, with plants being uprooted and damaged. We urge the relevant authorities to enforce stricter controls and safeguard this precious habitat,” said Tulepov.
This magical flower has touched many civilizations and religions. From ancient Egypt to India and China, it was a symbol of purity and spiritual ascension.
Several theories exist regarding how these flowers found their way to Kazakh soil. The most widely accepted belief is that local merchants introduced lotus seeds from India and China via the Silk Road.
However, in this secluded part of the Atyrau Region, it’s not just the lotuses that captivate tourists.
“The primary attraction is not lotuses. Their bloom is just a brief season, lasting only a few weeks. Fishing and hunting dominate the tourist activities in the Kurmangazy district, especially during autumn,” said Tulepov.
The region boasts a rich diversity of birdlife, including cranes, swans, herons, egrets, and ducks, complemented by excellent fishing opportunities.