Nomads of Kazakhstan – Ile Alatau Mountain Range
Nomads of Kazakhstan
Central Asia is famous for its prevailing nomad lifestyle.
Meeting nomads around the world is always an excellent cultural experience as you interact with people having a completely different way of life.
a. A member of a people or tribe who move from place to place to find pasture and food;
b. A person who continually moves from place to place; wanderer.
Back in 2004, during my first visit to Kazakhstan, I stayed with some Kazakh nomads on the mountains along the Ile-Alatau Mountain Range.
This was one of the best experiences during my journey.
Well, actually, I have a curious story to tell you…
I didn’t prepare or organize my trip to Kazakhstan.
Can you believe that?
In fact, I really didn’t think much about it before I actually got myself on the airplane.
Well, Kazakhstan was not in my travel plans – I just decided to go there a week before.
What happened was that I ended up changing an already planned trip to South America by this one to Central Asia.
I wanted to cross the Amazon river by boat, which I came up to do in 2014 – ten years after.
Read the page: 543 hours on Amazon Boats – Brazil, Peru & Ecuador.
So, in one week time, I got an express Kazakh visa at the Madrid embassy, and bought a one-way ticket to Almaty, in the southern part of Kazakhstan, bordering Kyrgyzstan and China.
After Kazakhstan, I traveled to Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, and Morocco. This was an amazing summer traveling from June until late September.
Zailiysky Alatau Nomads – Ile-Alatau National Park
After I had arrived and met these friendly people, I ended up going inside their yurt where they offered me tea, blackberry jam, butter, and cookies.
In the summer they have the oven outside the tent but during the winter the oven goes inside the yurt to warm up as the temperature outside goes below -35º C / -31º F.
Nomads in Central Asia live inside a specific type of tent called yurt. The local name for this tent in Kazakh language is üi or kiz üi.
Yurts are portable tents which are completely skin-covered, wooden framed and the structure itself can actually be very strong.
This nomad family had 3 horses and about 30 sheep, a riffle and lots of rice and flour to bake bread for the winter months. Their main protein intake comes from sheep meat and milk. Nomads also take the skin out of animals to make warm clothes for the winter.
When I first got to the camp, only the women and children were there. After a while, the nomad man came riding a horse holding a rifle. He quickly came down off the horse and gave me a strong welcoming handshake.
Nomadic lifestyle has changed little since the first nomad tribes moved to this part of Tian Shan range, along what is now the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
The Ile-Alatau National Park is a magnificent wildlife and nature sanctuary, located at Karasai District just about 60 km / 37 mi from Almaty in southeast Kazakhstan.
Ile-Alatau Park is located on the northern slopes of the Trans-Ili Alatau Mountains from the Tien-Shan Mountain Range. The Ile-Alatau National Park stretches from Turgen Gorge until Chemolgan River.
The pristine valleys and white towering peaks of the Trans-Ili Alatau enchanted famous emperors such as Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.
Ile-Alatau National Park main entrance is located about 100 km / 60 miles east of Almaty. This is an amazing place to visit while in southern Kazakhstan.
In terms of Wildlife, there are dozens of different types of animals in Ile-Alatau National Park such as the Central Asian Lynx, Black Stork, Red Dog, Golden Eagle, Rite Swallowtail, Snow Leopard, Siberian Ibex, and Swallowtail.
The fertile valleys of Ile Alatau Range are the perfect environment for nomad lifestyle.