Long since the extensive elevated territory of Central Kazakhstan is call Saryarka. In literal translation from the Kazakh language Saryarka means «yellow back», but semantic interpretation is quite different — «extensive upland». Some Kazakhstan toponymists are inclined to interpret the word «sary» as adjective. In addition, there are many other opinions. One thing is certain: this huge by occupied area upland in Central Kazakhstan is land of plenty. Here you can see wonderful summer and winter pastures, there are natural shelters from furious winter winds for people and cattle in inter-hill hollows, and elevation is more humidify than Turansky lowland adjoining to it in the west.
Geographers call this region as Kazakh small-hills and geologists often call it as Kazakh folded country.
Saryarka stretches from the west to east from UlytauMountains (Ulutau) to Tarbagatai for 1000 kilometres, from the north from KokshetauMountains to the south to Balkhash -nearly for 900 kilometres. Saryarka is alternation of low hills, which rise over elevated plain by 300-500 metres and have inter-hill hollows.
In the territory of Saryarka there is a large tectonic Tengiz-Kurgaldzhinsky hollow. It is supposed that the hollow was formed because of falling of huge meteorite — asteroid. Hollow diameter is about 200 kilometres and the bottom is located at the altitude from 300 to 350 metres. In this hollow, there is the largest saltish TengizLake and set of small lakes fed by small rivers, and Nura is among them. The basin of these lakes is closed.
Tengiz length is 74 kilometres, width — 32 kilometres, surface area — 1100 square kilometres, and maximal depth reaches 8 metres.
Low mountain massifs, hills, groups of hills, ranges and small ridges are scattered over elevation without a visible order: in some places there are small mountains and the most space is occupied by plains.
In extreme, north of Saryarka there are Kokshetau mountains (Kokchetavsky) with Sinyuha summit (947 m). In vicinities of these mountains there are the most beautiful lakes Borovoe and Shcuchie (Shortandy). Round the lakes there are many camps, rest houses and sanatoria which use very popularity owing to picturesque landscape and salubrious air suffused with fragrance of coniferous woods and grasses.
Mountains in this region are cover with pinewoods, and in clefts, both birches and aspens and various bushes can be meet. Lakes are freshwater and full offish and the woods abounds in berries and mushrooms. Some granite rocks due to strong aeration have freakish forms reminding ruins of castles, figures of animals and people. They are «Sphinx», «Sleeping knight» and «Camel». Many rocks are connect with national legends and stories, for example «Okzhetpes» («The arrow will not reach the target»).
Approximately, in hundred kilometres from Kokshetau city there is the massif of the most ancient rocks in Central Asia (eclogites) which are at least more than three and a half million years old.
Kokshetausky elevation also has other very picturesque places — Imantau, Zerenda, Arykbalyk mountains that are also favourite holiday spots.
Other remarkable places of Saryarka are Bayanaulsky mountains. They are on the northeast suburb of Kazakh small-hills. These mountains are a unique islet among steppe plain. On Akbet hill, they rise up to 1026 metres above sea level.
Granite massif of Bayanaul is cover with pinewood, and some meters lower the rocks of freakish forms such as «Baba-Yaga», «Shaitantas», «Stone head» and others can be meet. There are many small picturesque lakes.
In 140 kilometres to the south from Bayanaul there are rather high Karkar-alinskyMountains (Karkaraly) which reaches the height of 1403 metres. Mountains are surround by semi-deserts, but there are slopes become overgrew with pine light-forest. Fanciful rocks, lakes and small bogs characterize this region — sazy where at the end of summer it is possible to see lenses of frozen soil remained since winter in sazy deposits. Local population uses such places as natural refrigerators.
In 80 kilometres to the south from KarkaralinskyMountains the highest massif of Saryarka — Axoran Hiil (1565m) is located. Axoran in translation from Kazakh is «white elevation», or more exactly «white steep-sloped elevation distinguishing among the others». It rises in Kyzylrai massif («rai» is «summit» for Mongolian) where there is the most southern pine light-forest.
UlytauMountains is one of the largest elevations located in the western end of Saryarka. The compact rocky massif reaches the height of 1133 metres. In Ulytau crevices along the banks of streams or springs birch, aspen, willow and various bushes (meadow-sweet, juniper, ephedra, hawthorn and black currant) can be met. Massif top part is free of soil cover, and very ancient weathered granite and other rocks are uncovered there. Long since local people consider these mountains as sacred — here people proclaimed Kazakh khans.
In extreme east, Saryarka is close up with Chingiztau Mountains, which height is more than 1077 metres, and Akshatau (up to 1305 metres). Northeast slopes of these mountains are usually abrupt, and southwest are rather flat. They consist of very ancient metamorphic Precambrian rocks and volcanic and sedimentary thicknesses of Paleozoic. Mountains are surround by semi-deserts, but steppe vegetation prevails in mountains and a little bit lower birch-aspen small forests with the meadowsweet and pea shrub are widespread.
In deserts of Northern Pribalkhashie the most southern massif is Bektauta (up to 1213 m), which like granite island, towers over surrounding plain. In 60 kilometres to the south, there is BalkhashLake. When you get to these mountains you can see sudden change of landscape: sad deserted spaces are replaced by emerald colours of motley grass and abundance of bushes growing along springs and small rivers. Here and there, freakish granite rocks are spread, in some places, it is possible to meet tangle of juniper. It is another world — picturesque oasis among Pribalkhashie deserts.
Saryarka is diverse and land of plenty of Kazakhstan: here the mountains rise against steppes, semi-deserts and deserts and each mountain has its own «face» and natural beauty. In hollows between small hills big and small plains with fertile soils and agricultural grounds are spread.
Saryarka is expanse for pedestrian, horse, automobile tourism, for fishers, hunters and mushroom pickers. Freakish rocks attract rock-climbers.
Saryarka is the main well of ore and fuel minerals not only in Kazakhstan, but also in Central Asia. There is almost everything in the region except for oil and gas. The largest black coal reserves are in Karaganda and Ekibastuz basin; copper ore deposits are concentrated in Zhezkazgan and Northern Pribalkhashie.
Saryarka is rich in complex ore, iron and manganese ore. There are aluminum ores (bauxites), tungsten, molybdenum, nickel and gold. On northern periphery of Saryarka diamonds placers have found.