Kora Gorge &
Burkhan-Bulak Waterfall

Kora Gorge

The strikingly beautiful mountains of Dzungar Alatau are located in the Southeastern Kazakhstan and serve as a natural border with China. In between of these beautiful mountains lies the even more beautiful Kora gorge extending all the way to the length of 90 km. It is also the gorge where the largest waterfall of Kazakhstan named Burkhan-Bulak is located. Kora gorge also known as gorge Karinskoe. The Kora gorge is limited in the North by the Karatau ridge and the Minshukur mountains. The main ridge of the Zhetysuiskiy Alatau reaches from the South separating the valleys of the Kora and Koksu rivers. The Zhamankol and Mynzhilka mountains separate the Kora gorge in the middle and lower reaches of the river from the Chizha river gorge. The gorge reaches its maximum height at the Eastern end with a height of 3919 towering above the top of the Bezsonov glacier. The Kora Gorge is fairly deep in the lower parts when its depth reaches 700-800 m above sea level. The gorge is narrow as well, the river fills almost the entire bottom of the valley. While in the middle reaches the gorge widens, its depth reaches 1000 m.

While hiking in the Gorge you can see a large variety of flora and fauna. There are more than 3,000 species of plants, including edelweiss and sievers apple trees, which are considered being the progenitor of all the apple species in the world. There are also inhabits of notably rare species like ermines, foxes, bears, wolves and even snow leopards.

Kora River

The Kora River is formed from several rivers originating mostly from the Sapozhnikov, Bezsonov and Tronov glaciers. The Kora river receives the waters from the Southern tributaries of the Shegirbulak and Kaskabulak together with small rivers Tyuite and Tekeshbulak which are tributaries of the Sadyrtas River. One of the largest tributaries of the Kora River is the Burkhan-Bulak tributary. Downstream of the Asylbai tributary, there are 20 minor tributaries, coming from both sides of the gorge, which do not significantly increase the water flow in the Kora River as many of these rivers flowing down from the gorges are seasonal and function only during the snow melt.

Burkhan-Bulak Waterfall

The waterfall rises to an altitude of 2,000 m above sea level. Burkhan-Bulak consists of four cascades being 168 m long in total, however only three of those with the height of 114 m are visible. The lower part is hidden from view due to a collapse of soil and rocks that occurred in 2009. 

Legend about Burkhan and Kora

The grand power and beauty of the waterfall are mesmerizing and an impressive waterfall is a miracle of nature. Therefore it is not odd that waterfall has an interesting legend among the local people. It tells that in ancient times a woman lived there with her only child named Burkhan. The mother wanted him to choose a quiet obedient girl as his wife, however to her objection, Burkhan fell in love with Kora, a proud and headstrong beauty. Furious the mother decided to prevent this marriage and erected a prison of rocks, in which she locked Burkhan. But the young man’s heart could not be silenced, his love was so strong that he escaped from his cavity and united with the beautiful Kora. Many years passed, but the couple stayed always together and the poor mother mourned the unwise choice of her son and still pours out her sorrow in the form of a small stream, which is located near the Burkhan-Bulak waterfall and is therefore called the “Mother’s Tears”.

How to get Burkhan-Bulak Waterfall

There is a hiking trail leading to the waterfall but there is no direct road from Tekeli to the Kora gorge, through which the Kora river flows. Visitors should take the Oskemen road to Kapal village and drive into the mountains. The road from the city of Tekeli to where takes at least 5 hours along a difficult winding mountain road. 

The best times to go to the waterfall are the end of summer and the beginning of autumn since the melting of ice increases the flow of water druing those periods. If you come later, the main sources of Burkhan-Bulak will be little only little streams. In winter, the waterfall freezes over, but, even when frozen in ice, the icy waterfall statue it creates is a very beautiful sight. 

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