Draw an imaginary line between Astana and Semey, and at the halfway point you will find the Bayanaul Nature Reserve. Kazakhs call it “Nature`s Museum”; it has charming lakes, mountains, pinewoods with strangely formed trees, bizarre rock formations, steppe – there is a bit of everything here, an idyllic coexistence in an area of only 450 square kilometres. The beautiful Bayan, a well-known figure in Kazalh folklore, was said to have set up her aul here. Many people, most of them young men, travel from far and wide to see Bayan.
Water — is the main thing in Bayanaul`s mountains. This National Park represents four kinds of vegetation – forest, forest-steppe, steppe and meadow. In the south-western parts of Pavlodar, on the right bank of the Irtish, there is a unique place on our planet – natural site called the Goose Migration.
Is in the Bayanaul Mountains situated in the southwest of the Pavlodar region, in the remote part of the Saryarka Steppe. The Mountains covered with woods are a real oasis appearing unexpectedly in the bare steppe. The climate there is different from that of the adjacent steppe areas because of the relief peculiarity, the woods and the lakes. There are neither strong winds nor sand storms. Many plants species survived intact in Bayanaul. Some of them are relic, for example, the black alder (Alnus glutinosa) and the rock red currant (Ribes petraeum). The mountains are also rich in various berries and mushrooms.
There are freshwater lakes as Sabyndykol (the area is 7,4 sq.km) and Zhasybai (the area is 4 sq.km).
There is the rest house on the coast of Zhasybai Lake.
The peculiarity of these places is that they are literally full of legends. This is proved by the fact that every mountain, lake or stone has a name and is connected with an old story.
Scholars believe that the word ‘Bayanaul’ is of Mongolian -Turkic origin. Its literal translation is ‘rich, happy mountains’. Nevertheless, ancient legends interpret the name of the place as the name of Bayan-Sulu (beauty Bayan), the folk epos hero.
One can get to the Akbet Mountain foot from Zhasybai Lake along the beautiful valley. The Akbet granite rock (the name means ‘white-faced’ in Kazakh) is the highest (1023 meters) one among the Bayanaul Mountains. According to the legend, the rock was named after a girl who threw herself from the rock when she was given in marriage to a person she did not love. It is not difficult to rise to Akbet and there is a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains, lakes and steppes from it.
There is another legend about the Akbet Rock surroundings. Its embodiment is at the north foot of the rock in the south part of the Toraigyr lakeside. However, the characters of the legend are better to be observed from the Smelykh Peak (the Brave Peak) which is near the Toraigyr Village.
Another of the local attractions is the «holy cave.» According to superstition, if someone enters the cave, places their palm on the wall and makes a wish, then leaves without turning their head around to the exit, their wish will come true. Another superstition exists, that the cave helps infertile parents conceive a child, for which there is a special ritual. Although this may not be true, the stream of tourists to the cave on the days that its open to the public continues. It is located at a considerable height and requires a walk of more than a kilometer to reach. In recent years, a wooden staircase has been built for the last section of the route, which is particularly steep.
Paleontologists found remnants of giraffe, rhinoceros, hyena like animals and hipparirion (a small horse), living here 7-10 million years ago. The total amount of the found fossils is considerable. They, as it seems, belong to thousands of species.
Many centuries flew over stone sculptures of Bayanaul mountains. They saw the first fires of people. The stonecutter of the ancient artist knocked, beating out on the rock a circle — the sun. Wild rocks heard shouts of dzhungar hordes. Songs of akyns awoke silence of the lake. Chilly rifle shots clicked in the years of revolution.
It is difficult to forget Bayanaul National Park. Blue water of transparent lakes, waves of the small river of Bayshura. It is impossible to forget Bayanaul mountains. They remain in heart, as something eternal and fine.