The Borovoye (or Burabay) State National Natural Park is a unique Kazakh landscape that combines beautiful lakes, coniferous forests as well as hotels and healing resorts. It is located 250 km north from Astana and called an oasis of the Kazakh steppes. Boroboye is also often labeled as ‘Kazakhstan’s Switzerland’ and ‘the pearl of Kazakhstan’, due to the picturesque lakes, hills, weathered granite lands, and pine and birch forests. 

There are 14 lakes on the territory of the park. Among of the most famous are Borovoe, Katarkol, Maybalyk, Bolshoye and Malye Chebachye. The highest point of the area is the Mount Kokshetau and to the south from the previous one is Mount Burabay, being 690 meters high. Further south are the Schuchin hills, the largest of which is called Zheke-batyr reaching 826 meters in height. The Kokshetau Mountains are covered with forests, and the thick carpet continues across the lower hills towards the East. Boroevoye attracts high numbers of domestic tourists and visitors from the nearest parts of Russia. There are also several medicinal mud and mineral springs and the beauty of the nature here is sung in Seifulin’s poem “Kokshetau” and in Mukanov’s novel “Botagoz”.

A stone formation in the Borovoye
Sunset in Borovoye

Photographs by ashraf_adp

Legend about Burabai

According to one legend, a lonely camel named Bura with a skin of snow-white color found shelter here. The proud Bura lived alone in the dense forests, didn’t let anyone near him and did not obey anyone. Every day he came to Kumiskol Lake to drink pure water (that is why the lake was nicknamed “silver”.) The sacred camel could also predict many troubles. With a loud roar, he warned the locals about the approach of the enemy. People heard this and managed to prepare in order to oppose the threat. Locals revered the camel, considering it a sacred animal, who was sent by the god to protect them from troubles. 

For many years, the sacred camel guarded the locals but then there was an occasion when robbers came to this land ruthlessly attempting to hunt the birds and other animals. With his roar, Bura always managed to warn people and animals of the danger, so every time the hunt was unsuccessful. When the robbers realized what was happening, they began to hunt for the white camel. Once the sacred animal was surrounded by hunters, a robber’s arrow hit the chest of Bura. Feeling death, the wounded animal limped back to his favorite lake. There, the camel froze forever, becoming a large white mountain. Since then, these places nearby have gained names after Bura. The height of the mountain peak, which Bura turned into, is almost seven hundred meters and her outlines are surprisingly reminiscent of a sacred animal.

Legend about Okzhetpes

Another popular sight of the park is the Mount Okzhetpes, a stone island. It is the legendary mountain of Borovoye, a symbol of this area. Many legends are associated with Mount Okzhetpes. One of them is related to Abylai Khan when he returned from a military operation. Among the trophies was a young attractive girl. Every soldier desired to marry her, but the khan allowed the girl to choose a groom on her own. The girl already had a bridegroom at home, so to avoid unwanted marriage in a foreign land, she tricked the Khan. 

The girl climbed to the top of the cliff, raised up her handkerchief and said: “I will marry the warrior whose arrow will hit my handkerchief!” Not a single warrior managed to fire their arrow the height of the rebellious and wise beauty. Since then, the rock, where, according to legend, stood a nameless girl with a scarf in her hands, is called Okzhetpes, which in translation means “the arrow will not reach”. 

Travel to Borovoye

You can reach Borovoye by car heading north from Astana where you will be mostly surrounded by the endless steppes. After 3 hours you will see some greenery signaling your approach to Burabai. 

There is also a daily train from Astana along the Astana-Kokshetau route through the Burabay. You can get the train from central railway station Astana 1, which will cost you about 1500 Tenge. There is a small town called Shunchinsk just at the edge of Burabay’s resort area where the trains from Astana and Almaty (Almaty – Petropavl train) both stop and it goes by the name Borovoye resort. 

The train travel time from Almaty is about 15 hours. If you want to travel faster, you can take a plane to Kokshetau. The flight Almaty – Kokshetau only takes about 50 minutes. From Kokshetau, you can get to Borovoye by bus or taxi or by the already mentioned Kokshetau – Astana train. The distance from Kokshetau to Borovoye is 35 kilometers.

Other sights & Destinations near Borovoye

Page updated 25.10.2020

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