...with lots of pics to look at.
One of the more extraordinary places one can choose as destination for an outing when one lives in Alma-Ata is Bartogai. This is 3 hours or so drive from the city and is a Soviet hydroelectric and irrigation management plant consisting of a large reservoir created by a dam up in the foothills of the mountains separating Kazakhstan from China.
It's a fun drive to get to and offers several stunning things to look at.
So first the drive out into the steppe. A road into the wilderness:
Don't have a breakdown: there aren't too many people about and this is your motorway service station –
If you want a piss, there are no trees to hide behind but you can still fuss about choosing the right spot
The tarmac finishes after a while
And ends up at the lake
(These photos may have been taken on different visits in different years. They were also taken with a variety of cameras.)
Once we camped overnight by the lake
I see poor Arthur was abused and dragged up this hill for the taking of this picture. I still remember what hot work it was scrambling up that hill.
The lake creates greenery in what would otherwise be desert
Then there's the visit to the industrial side of things – the water management. This is a very Kazakh affair as officially the site is closed to the public as being a 'site of strategic importance', not to be entered without a permit. Once must therefore find the right person to be bribed and negotiate a mutually acceptable financial arrangement.
Once that is done, one drives through the service tunnel through the mountain holding the water in the lake to see where it exits
It must be quite a moneymaker for the local management as we were by no means the only people on the 'verboten' side.
The volume of water being discharged is stunning. And it roars as it comes out.
One can stand directly above the exit hole. The water is being thrown forward with such force that one feels a rush of air sucking one forward into the stream and instant death. It's actually quite frightening.
See from above. Note the greenery in the valley below. The spray from the dam creates a microclimate in the area below it and it's way cooler and pleasantly humid down there (very different from the ultra-dry air of the real Kazakhstan). One year we camped there.
And see from then side:
The amount of water coming out is immense. It forms this river:
And that's a weekend outing in Kazakhstan!
Of course, one can't get back without another piss-stop