That was it for the city for now. We left Oskemen and headed for the Altai Mountains. The Katon-Karagay region was advertised to us as the Switzerland of Kazakhstan. It is located at the easternmost end of the country, where it borders China, Mongolia and Russia. Well, what can we say… the scenery is breathtaking. While horses, cows and sheep graze on the mostly flat plain, the imposing mountain range looms in the background.
When we arrived in the village of Ulken Narym (Bolshenarymskoye), we immediately made a good impression and rang the bell at the town hall, which we thought was our guesthouse. A slightly confused man in a vest and sweatpants, it was already late in the evening, pulled open the door and pointed out to us that it was not possible to spend the night in the town hall. The hotel was around the corner, he said. “Izviniti!” (Excuse me!) It was not our fault, we were misled by the wrong information on GoogleMaps.
The next day we set off for Lake Markakol. As we turned onto the “Austrian road”, a group of horses was already telling us that this was not the best idea. The herdsman told us that we would not reach the lake on the still snow-covered road. Of course, this made sense to us immediately when we looked at the white mountain peaks. Why this connection was not clear to us beforehand remained a mystery. So we continued along the road, stopped in the small village of Katon-Karagay and explored the area.
In summer, everything here is in full bloom and attracts many holidaymakers. The area is also famous for the so-called antler baths, which are offered in special deer farms. Young maral horns are cut for this purpose. A medicinal decoction is boiled from them, in which one then bathes. This is supposed to act like a true rejuvenating cure. Unfortunately, Volker and I will not be able to surprise you with youthful freshness in Germany, as these cures are only possible from the end of May.