Kokshetau National Park

Kokshetau National Park

Kokshetau National Nature Park is a unique Kazakh landscape, filled with archaeological sites and recreational opportunities of the Kazakh heights in Northern Kazakhstan. Located in the transition zone between the Siberian taiga to the north and the southern steppes, the terrain is an “island” of forests, lakes, and mountains surrounded by steppes. The national park lies along the two regions, Akmola and Northern Kazakhstan, 45 km west of the Kokshetau city and 275 km northwest from Astana.

The park was established in 1996 to preserve and maintain the unique mountain forests, lake ecosystems, monuments, archeology and national culture of Northern Kazakhstan. The main treasures of the park are forests with pine, birch and aspen. The animal world offers taiga species, elk, lynx, pine marten, steppes gopher, corsac and hare-hare. The national park includes five different sections: Zerenda, Shalkar, Aiyrtau, Arykbalyksky and Ormandy Bulak. 

Zerenda section covers an area south, west, and northwest around Zerenda lake. Shalkar branch is the region of low mountains, hills and ridges of the Kazakh heights, with hollows of the Melkosopochnik Plains on the terrain of weathered granite and quartz-schist. Aiyrtau section runs by the forest formed in 1898, starring an arboretum and some experimental forestry sections. 

Shalkar Lake

Many people often confuse Lake Shalkar with other lakes of the same name in Kazakhstan. This lake is located about 70 km from the Kokshetau city in the North Kazakhstan region. There are three Shalkar lakes in Kazakhstan in total, the rest others set in the West Kazakhstan region near the city of Uralsk and in the Aktobe region.

Lake Shalkar is a salty and crystal-clear lake, that has brought tourists from all over the world for beach recreation and fishing for a long time already. The lake is crescent-shaped lake and popular for its healing mud. On one side, the lake is framed by a dense forest, on the other side, the shores are open to the sun. Conifers and birches predominate the forest near the coast. The length of the lake is 12 km, width is 3 km, the narrowest point is about 200 m and maximum depth of the lake is 18 m. 

Shalkar Lake is a favorite place for Russian citizens who come here on holidays. The lake is truly unique with its large white water lilies give the lake a special beauty. The water is fairly clear, the bottom can be seen at a depth of up to two meters. The bottom, like the coast, is sandy in places and rocky in others. The rocks overhanging the shore are not steep and they can be easily climbed without special equipment. A large number of winding snags, cut by water and time, are scattered near the rocks on the banks which are very popular for photographs. The sunsets on the lake amaze the imagination with their magnificence.

Imantau Lake and Mountain

Freshwater lake Imantau is less popular than Shalkar, it however also attracts a lot of tourists, both for a beach holidays and fishing activities. Lake Imantau is located in the Ishim River basin. There are many fish available for eager fishermen including chebak, ide, perch, carp and crucian carp. The mountain of the same name Imantau adjoins the lake and the village with the same name is located on the southeast coast. 

According to one version, Imantau is a sacred mountain and according to another legend, it is named after a local resident of Iman, who allegedly owned these places in the Middle Ages. The unusually shaped island of the lake is uninhabited, but you can get there by boat and pick up berries in its forests or spend the day sunbathing in a more silent environment.

One of the best observation points on the lake and its surroundings is the rocky hill “Kotelok”, an easily hiked hill starting 800 meters west of the recreation area “Borovushka” and 300 m west of the beach. The trail is just over 1 km long and is fully marked. In addition to Kotelka, you can also go to Mount Imantau 621 m above sea level its the highest point of the mountain range. The landscapes opening from it are also impressive, however, it will take a little more time to get to it since the length of the trail is 2.5 km and the trail is not marked. Recreation areas on Lake Imantau are focused on its southeastern and southwestern shores having several resorts. 

Zerenda Lake

Zerenda is a big tectonic freshwater lake located on the west side of the village with the same name, southwest from Kokshetau town. The lake is 7 km long and only 6 m deep. During the summer the water temperature reaches 24 degrees making it a nice place for swimming. 

Like most of the natural formations in the area, Zerenda has its own legends. The most romantic of them says that once upon a time when in these places were only bare steppes and hills, a brave young man lived here. Once he met a beautiful girl and a spark of love flashed between the young people. But the groom was too young and too poor, so the bride’s parents opposed the wedding. The feelings of the lovers were so strong that they decided to run away and be happy without blessings from the parents. The girl took off her bracelet from her hand and threw it on the ground behind her! At the place where it fell, a large lake spilled out, which divided the fugitives and their pursuers. The lake still has the shape of a circle, and the name Zerenda comes from the Kazakh word for “grains” a bracelet. 

Karasai and Agyntai Batyr Memorial Complex

Karasai and Agyntai Batyr Memorial Complex is a monument dedicated to Karasai and Agyntai Batyr, the two Kazakh warriors of the 17th century who fought together against the Dzhungars for several decades. The complex opened in 1999 and it is located 22 km southwest from the nearest main settlement Saumalkol. The form of the monument is impressive: two cones of brown brick, 16m in height, resembling oasthouses or giant termite mounds, stand side by side. In front of them is a slightly smaller building, also circular-based and with a roof shaped like an upside-down ice-cream cone. This is a mosque, its placed between the two mausolea symbolically uniting them in prayer.

Karasai Batyr was born in the Almaty Region, from the Shaprashty tribe of the Great Zhuz. President Nazarbayev belongs to the same tribe, which is possibly factor popularity of Karasai Batyr current popularity. Agyntai Batyr was from the north of the country, a member of the Argyn tribe of the Middle Zhuz. It is believed that the warriors participated in over 200 bloody battles over a 48-year period, including famous victories such as the 1643 Battle of Orbulak. This two worries died within a year of each other 1671 and 1672, and are buried in the nearby Kulshynbay-Tobe hill. 

You can get to the complex from the Saumalkol, the main settlement in the area. Head southwest on the road towards Ruzaevka, turning left after 3km onto a road signposted to the Karasai and Agyntai Batyr Memorial Complex. Turn right, again signposted to the complex, after a further 13km. The monument itself, two cones on the crest of a low hill, is visible from afar and guides you the final 11km towards it.

Historical and Ethnographic Museum named after Chokan Valikhanov in Sirimbet

Syrymbet village is well associated with Chokhan Valikhanov, descendent of Kazakh khan Ablai, and widely respected as the founding father of modern Kazakh historiography and ethnography. The Syrymbet Historical and Ethnographic Museum chronicles his life, while the nearby manor, 3km outside the village, is a single-storey log building built for Chokhan’s grandmother in 1824 by order of Tsar Alexander 1. The village is located  30 km north from Saumalkol, it is the town where was the childhood of noted Kazakh traveler and ethnographer Chokan Valikhanov. 

You can get there from Saumalkol, head north, through pine and birch woodlands, towards the village of Svetloe. After 24km take a signposted right turn to Sirimbet, reaching the village after a further 5km. A smart single-storey log-walled building in the village houses the Sirimbet Historical Ethnographic Museum. 

Manor of Aiganym, Grandmother
of Chokan Valikhanov

Aiganym is a grandmother of a scholar, ethnographer, and historian Chokan Valikhanov. She played an important role in the upbringing of the future scientist. 

The beginning of the formation of the minor dates back to the twenties of the 19th century when the Syrymbet tract became a permanent wintering place, autumn 1822 of Aiganym Valieva, a widow of the middle zhuz khan Vali Ablaykhanov. The architectural appearance of the estate was formed during the 19th century. It includes a residential building with outbuildings and a house for servants, next to which are built a mosque and madrasah. The location of the Aiganym estate in the Aiyrtau branch.

Botai Settlement

An ancient Botai settlement was discovered next to Kokshetau in 1980 and since then it has been regularly excavated. What has been uncovered is a sensational discovery. It is the “Botai culture” of which name comes from the location of the site. The culture was a semi-nomadic civilization living in Northern Kazakhstan area about 5,500 years ago. The Botai settlement occupies an area of 15 ha about 25 km west of Saumalkol. During the excavations, more than 100 homes have been discovered, along with 300 000 artifacts and hundreds of thousands of horse bones. Some experts even believe the Botai were the first culture to domesticate horses about 5500 years ago.

Destinations near Kokshetau

Page updated 12.1.2021

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