«We need to look into the past in order to understand the present and foresee the future»
N.A.Nazarbayev

ALAKOL: a rising tourist destination

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ALAKOL: a rising tourist destination
Alakol is a bitter salt lake in Kazakhstan, located on the Balkhash-Alakol lowland, which is on the border of the Almaty and East Kazakhstan regions.

The opinion that exists among Kazakhstanis that Alakol is a kind of natural hospital, without exaggeration, is an indisputable fact. Many people, including even some pregnant women with a risk for a future child go to the lake on purpose to give birth to their child in its healing waters and improve their health.

So far, unfortunately, there has been one problem in the tourism sphere of Kazakhstan - the lack of proper infrastructure, despite the high demand, especially this year, when prices for air travel along with inflation became unprofitable for a Kazakhstan tourist for traveling abroad. And in this regard, starting our story about the pearl of Kazakhstan's tourism, one can say without exaggeration that the pathetic heading is only partly true.

Because, unfortunately, following the usual stereotypes, a Kazakh tourist is used to spend summer vacations either abroad or on Ystykkol, where the beaten road became habitual in the summer or on the weekend of September. However, a small number of tourists are sure that the Ystykkol direction for all its uniqueness is many times inferior to Alakol with its medicinal properties, warm water and picturesque views. Probably, therefore, realizing what a huge non-resource potential of sources of income the state is actively trying to develop this direction, introducing every possible year from every possible program. One day the realization that domestic tourism is the most convenient and most profitable investment in an enterprise will reach every Kazakhstani.

Then only we can be proud of our native nature and compare it with world analogues. Indeed, the money invested in tourism will ultimately benefit if the townspeople actively visit these places, leaving in their home state money that will go back to improving the service, building new cities. Revenues from profits in the form of taxes will return to the state, which will then go back to the pockets of tourists. This natural process is analogous to the water cycle in nature. The government and its programs should be able to draw the attention of the internal investor to this region, which can turn into an excessively profitable industry.

Everyone knows that Alakol is a salt lake without waste located on the Balkhash-Alakol lowland, which is located on the border of the Almaty and East Kazakhstan regions, in the eastern part of the Balkhash-Alakol Basin. In the period from XII to XIX centuries. it had several names: the Turgė-Nor, Alaktagol, Alateniz, Alakta. More than 15 tributaries flow into the lake, of which the main are the rivers Urzhar, Katynsu, Emelkys, Zhamanty, Zhamanotkol, Tasty.

Together with the lakes such as Sasykkol, Uyaly, Zhalanashkol and others, it forms the Alakol lake system. The banks are heavily indented by numerous peninsulas, capes, and bays. In the middle of Alakol there are many islands.

What do you know about Alakol?

A beautiful lake stretching in the southeast of the Almaty region. Believe me, most of your knowledge is myths. The most common of them we counted five: no road - just the direction, there is no proper infrastructure, because of the weather conditions, rest is possible only in July, except for swimming, there is nothing to do, and finally, Alakol's water heals everything. However, the last myth is closest to the truth. Chloride-sodium salts contained in it, have an excellent tonic effect. As a result, the Alakol mud is successfully used to treat various diseases of the peripheral nervous system. In addition, in the healing waters of Alakol, chronic respiratory diseases, skin diseases: eczema, psoriasis, neurodermatitis, urticaria are productive.

Despite the fact that the water of the lake is slightly salty, the composition of these salts is such that the effect of tightening the skin, as is often the case after bathing in seawater, is absent. On the contrary, these salts have an extremely beneficial effect on the body. Alakol is a lake with beaches of black well-rounded pebbles. According to some researchers, pebbles have a volcanic (tectonic) origin and contains schungites, the radiation background corresponds to the natural one.

The wealth of Alakol lake and the nearby small lake of Zhalanashkol are sources of mineralized hydrogen sulphide mud, including silicon, the lack of which in the human body leads to the emergence of psoriasis.

Just like water, mud works well in the treatment of other diseases. Alakol lake is located in the low part of the Balkhash-Alakol lowland, at an altitude of 345 meters above sea level. Therefore, people who have problems with pressure, feel very comfortable here. Clean steppe air (in the radius of 600 km there is no industry!) In itself creates exceptionally favorable conditions for rest and treatment. After all, here you can just walk, breathe and forget forever about problems with the lungs and asthma.

You can rest on Alakol comfortably all summer long. The interesting fact is that Balkhash's maximum depth is 25 meters, whereas Alakol's is 75. Accordingly, the water in the last pond warms up more slowly. But it so happened that for many years "Alakol" for the Almaty residents was not Balkhash, but Kyrgyz Ystykkol, where the vacation is best to be spent between July-August.

But Ystykkol is a mountain lake. And for you, perhaps the revelation will be the fact that, over many years of observation, the water temperature on Alakol is the same for most of June as at Ystykkol in July! From 18 to 21 degrees. People who are used to swimming in Ystykkol, will feel comfortable in Alakol already in June. And from the second decade of June to the end of August, the water in Alakol is warmed to 25-26 degrees. Then it will cool down again. In general, the climate is the most similar to the one to which the Almaty people are accustomed. Alakol is not Antarctica. In May, it is already warm here.

As with any other water systems, Alakol is characterized by strong winds when the season changes. The strongest storm winds are observed in December (the transition from autumn to winter) and in April (from winter to spring).

According to long-term observations, at the time of transition from summer to autumn there are no violent storms on the lake. With very few exceptions. But we must understand that we live not in the Maldives, not in Thailand, but in the belt with a sharply continental climate and changes in the weather are possible. The main distributors of the myths about cold water and storms are, strangely enough, the locals. For any private owner, renting houses or rooms for rent is an additional seasonal income.By the way, in order to compensate for possible changes in the weather, at the beginning and at the end of the season, rest on bases costs twice as cheap. In addition, in June and August, we advise you to come to those who, for various reasons, have a strong sun exposure to the skin. The sun at this time becomes softer, you can swim even at lunch. In the high season, at midday on all bases begins the traditional "siesta", at this time, vacationers from one hour to four days usually hide in the rooms.

Today, vacationers have a choice: where to stay and how to organize your holiday on the coast of Alakol. Firstly, you can go to the lake, which is called, "savages", but you must clearly imagine what awaits you. The natural and climatic zone of this region is such that on the shore there is no vegetation. That is, there is nowhere to hide from the sun. Along the coast there is not a single toilet, around the steppe. Also, in the restaurant bar there are specially equipped dining rooms, in which there is a more careful control over the quality of food and its preparation. The staff working at the bases, works on a rotational basis, so they have time to rest and work.

Do not think that if you settle in the private sector, you will eat apples, apricots and strawberries. They are, unfortunately, are not grown here. Fruits are all brought from other regions of the country. The culture of preparing food on the coast is very poorly developed.

A legend about Alakol

Alakol is a motley and a wonderful lake that lies  in the east of the vast Kazakh steppe. Three hundred years ago, the last major battle between the Kazakhs and the Jungars-Oirats took place here. Oirats were the former left wing of the Mongolian army. In the middle of the 18th century, they were defeated by the Kazakhs in the Anyraqay battle, which lasted a whole week. Kazakhs were opposed by more than a million Kalmyks. In the first three days of the battle, a lot of people died on both sides, but the Kazakh warriors all arrived and came from the steppe, stood in the place of the dead, and fought until the Kalmaks ran. After the battle to the Alakol lake, located near the Dzungar gate, wounded Kazakh soldiers began to flock. The water of Alakol lake has curative properties that quickly heal wounds. On the shores of the lake and on the nearby Zhalanashkol lake there are many healing muds that cure people from various diseases. Detachments of Kazakh militiamen arrive and arrive to the lake, remove ammunition on the beach, put yurts, bathe, cut livestock, rejoice in victory in a difficult battle. And suddenly everything is quieted down, as the retinue of Abylai khan approaches. Abylai khan himself was wounded in one of the battles in one of the battles, and here he came along with all to heal the wound. The retinue passes solemnly past the soldiers, bowing in reverence to the khan. The faces of the nobles, the face of the khan close-up, and then the face of either a boy or a young warrior flashes, in a word, a young sultan. His features are purely Turkic: black hair, blue eyes, a thin nose with a hump, an imperious frowning type. In fact, this is the demon Erlik - the Turkic analogue of Satan, the antipode of the god Tengri. The ancient Turks were called "kokturki" - Türks of the God of Tengri, because they had blue eyes. He frowns at everything that is happening, he is torn by contradictions, on the one hand, he is pleased that "his people" celebrates the victory, on the other hand, the demon frowns at the fact that people, having defeated people, do not think of either God or demon of evil. Erlik examines the flat mountains lying at sunrise. On the slope of the mountain there is somebody's nomad, white, black, gray yurts. His glance slides higher towards the snowy peaks, from where the river that flows into Alakol lake originates. Running water in the river, floating clouds, running time.

Once a boy Erlik, who was the seventeenth child in a large Kazakh family, had a strange dream. He has different abilities, given him from the divine nature, he knows how to heal wounds on the body of animals and people, just have to look and look at the wound, and it will drag out. He also knows how to stop time to prevent some kind of trouble, but that's exactly what he can not do, because once he stops time, he begins to grow, and can quickly turn into a big demon of Erlik. All evil from adults. Erlik and his family live in a small village of Koktum (Blue spring) on ​​the shore of Alakol lake. In the village there are usual wooden-adobe houses, in many courts there are eight to ten children. All children are from one mom and one father. Parents from the early morning at work, work to feed their children. But the inhabitants of the village have enough other concerns. Every spring the water from the lake is washed away by the banks, and demolishes several houses. If this continues, soon the water will completely destroy the shores, and the aul will disappear from the face of the earth. The ice in the lake melts, the water comes from the mountain stream, splashes around the shore, the coast collapses with noise, the walls of the house are exposed, the neighboring house falls, people panic. The boy Erlika has a girlfriend - a neighbor girl Aina (Mirror), but she's an angel, but she does not know about it yet. In the conversations of the children it turns out that the water comes because there is a real villain living in the mountains, a uniform scoundrel - the monster Ubbe. At night he eats loudly like an owl, and he can even be heard in Koktum. Ubbe and sends water to the valley, to the lake, to deprive people of their homes. Six-year-old boy Erlik decides that he should go to the mountains and kill that wretch Ubbe, who sends water to their village. Erlik is armed with his father's dagger and tight birch onions. He also has a pipe - a children's toy, in fact an instrument, playing on which you can bewitch animals and people. Aina gives him a small magic mirror, and if you direct his beam to the albasts, a konayaka or other similar creature, that one is scattered from the reflected ray into dust. Erlik goes to the mountains and there he fights with a lot of Albasty, zheztrynak, konayaks. Defeating each of them, he has to stop time, and he inevitably grows.

In the mountain forest he meets a zheztyrnak - a woman with copper claws. Erlik is building a hut in the forest, next to the hut he puts two rogatins with a cross stick, hangs a bowler on the cross-bar, and kindles a fire under it. He puts antelope meat in the kettle. On the smell of food comes a woman - zheztyrnak, pretends to be a log, and lies next to the fire. Erlik sits on a log to try food, and then the log turns into a zheztyrnak, hugs a frightened hunter and tries to overcome it, but the young man defeats her, grabbing her by the hair. The next day, more precisely in the evening, Erlik meets a woman-Albasty, very beautiful, but sinister - she has gray hair and eerie eyes. She recognizes the demon in the boy, and obeys him. He asks her: "What are you doing now?". Albasty replies: "I'm killing a pregnant woman." Erlik leads Albasty to the village where the sick woman is after the birth. It turns out that the albasty snatched part of her lung from her, and the woman dies. Erlik orders a woman-albasty, lashing her with a whip, to return the child to a maternity. Albasta returns the stolen body to the woman in labor, and the woman recovers. People praise Erlik - a young man who saved a woman in childbirth. And it grows a few centimeters. People do not see a woman- Albasty, only Erlik can see her. A konoyak is a man with long straps instead of legs. He has the habit of watching the traveler, jumping on him, braiding him tightly with straps, lashing a man who runs with his terrible burden, until he dies, driven like a horse. Erlik in an ancient cave, painted with images of animals and primitive people, fights with a konayak, and defeats him. And grows to the size of an adult male. So Erlik defeated all the villains, and came to the monster Ubbe, the master of the water, who hoots like an owl. At the request of Erlik, Ubbe cuts another channel near Alakol lake, along which the water will now flow, leaving the lake. When cutting a new channel thunder rumbled, lightning flashed, and water flowed along the bottom of the ancient canyon.