Ili River, Kazakhstan
Ili is the largest river Zhetysu (Semirechye), located in the Almaty region. The length of the river is almost 1.5 thousand kilometers. Less than half of the river area is located in China. Several thousand years ago, it was along this river that the caravans of the Great Silk Road passed.
The Ili River originates in the People's Republic of China, at the confluence of the Tekes and Kunges Rivers at the foot of the Central Tien Shan. To regulate the flow of the river in the Almaty region, the Kapchagai reservoir was created. In the second half of the twentieth century, a dam was erected here in the Ili Valley and the Kapchagai hydroelectric power station was built. And the Ili River flows into Lake Balkhash, which is located in the south-east of Kazakhstan.
Kapchagai reservoir is called the sea. If you want to pass for a local, say "Kapchemore" or "Kapchik". The reservoir is a favorite vacation spot of Almaty residents and residents of neighboring cities. In summer, you will have a beach holiday with numerous hotels and sanatoriums, in winter - beautiful photos against the background of huge ice blocks. There are also activities on Kapchagai: water skiing, rafting, diving, yachting and much more.
The city of Kapchagai, which stands on the shore of the reservoir of the same name, is located 60 kilometers from Almaty. It grew up around the Kapchagai hydroelectric power station. There is a large aquapark in the center of Kapchagai. Kapchagai is also the only city in Kazakhstan where a legalized gambling zone with several casinos operates.
There are a lot of fish in the Kapchagai reservoir, so you can meet amateur fishermen on its shores at any time of the year. There are carp, walleye, silver carp, catfish, asp, snakehead, bream, river shrimp and even white cupid. Reed cats, black kites, muskrats, cranes, pheasants, hares, gulls, cuckoos and other animals and birds live in the Ili River area.
The Charyn River flows into the Ili River. Even Kazakhstanis don't know much about this river, but almost every resident of the country has been here. The point of attraction is the famous Charyn Canyon, which is as beautiful as the Grand Canyon in the USA. The length of the canyon exceeds 150 kilometers. Scientists say that the sedimentary rocks of Charyn are more than 10 million years old. Once there was a large lake on the site of the canyon. The famous "Valley of Castles" is located next to the canyon.
Not far from the Charyn Canyon there is a mountain of sand called the Singing Dune. It was formed due to the fact that the wind drove the sands from the shallows of the Ili River. The dune has a length of three kilometers and a height of 150 meters. The phenomenon of nature is named so for a reason – when the sand is dry, it emits a sound similar to the sounds of an organ.
The Singing Dune is located on the territory of the Altyn-Emel National Park. It is bounded by the Kapchagai reservoir and the mountains. The name of the park comes from the name of the mountain pass Matai Altynemel ("altyn" and "emel" – golden saddle). The park covers an area of over 300 thousand hectares. It is famous for the necropolis of the VIII-III centuries BC, the Taiga petroglyphs, the Aktau canyons cut through, the Katutau mountains of volcanic rocks, the Kokbastau tract and the Shokan Valikhanov spring.
Tamgaly-tas rocks are located near Kapchagai. People come here to look at ancient petroglyphs and later rock carvings.
Also on the Ili River there is a Nomad City known as the Nomad Fortress. These are the sets that were built on the riverbank for the filming of the movie "Nomad". Scenes from the "Day Watch" were also filmed here. In the City of Nomads, you can see what medieval Central Asian cities looked like. Clay houses, mosques, minarets, cattle pens and much more are waiting for you.