Astana, June 2, 2018. - An international expedition that included the representatives of UNDP Kazakhstan, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank, the Kazakh Tourism national company and local environmental specialists managed to reach the tallest summit of the Altai mountains – mountain Belukha (or Muztau – 4509 m). A well-known Kazakhstani mountaineer that reached all 8000 meters tall mountains in the world – Vassiliy Pevtsov – and young local mountaineers from the city of Oskemen also participated in the expedition.
The goal of the expedition is to raise awareness on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, adopted by the UN) with the specific focus on four of the environmental ones, biodiversity preservation and the development of ecological tourism. The team of 30 experts was divided into 3 subgroups: the first group ascended Belukha to hoist the SDGs flag on its top. The second group paved new tourist routes in the Altai Mountains, and the third studied the existing routes and gave recommendations for their improvement, as well as raised awareness of the local population on SDGs and the opportunities that the development of eco-tourism brings to the region. The work was supported by the akimats of East Kazakhstan region, the city of Oskemen, and the Katon-Karagai district.
«I had an amazing experience, while climbing the Belukha mountain. As our guide told us, the mountain “let us in”» - said Asian Development Bank Country Director for Kazakhstan Giovanni Capannelli.
«I was impressed by the beauty of Katon-Karagai National Park and its biodiversity. The ascent was not easy, but we managed to reach the summit, thanks to our unity in achieving the goal. Mountains check people for strength, they take away all the extra husks, and each person shows their true nature. Despite all the difficulties, we jointly overcame them, reached an understanding within the team, and managed to get to the top» - Askar Namazbayev, Deputy Director of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development in Kazakhstan, shared his view.
«We said a lot today about mountaineering, but within the UNDP project, we aim at the development of ecological tourism in Katon-Karagai National Park. Today the park is visited by approximately 3500 people a year – that is not much. Kazakhstani part of Altai requires the development of strategy of eco-tourism, since we need to combine mountaineering, equestrian, pedestrian and car routes, and most importantly, we must focus on tourism, based on local communities, so that they make a profit from the development of tourism» - said Talgat Kerteshev, UNDP Biodiversity project’s manager.
«Aside from being impressed by the beauty of the nature of the Altai region, we were also very much impressed by its people. “The guardians of Altai”, as they call themselves, are real patriots that love their region and love what they do. During the expedition we were able to learn more about beekeeping and horse breeding, about koumiz and pants-treatment, as well as learn about the operation of guest houses in the region. Local people warn against the development of mass tourism – rather, they want to attract tourists that love and care about the nature. Having talked personally to the locals, having understood the problems from the inside, we will build our future work in the region taking into account this knowledge» - said Irina Goryunova, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative.
«Starting from July this year, the National Company “Kazakh Tourism” will start its expeditions, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the capital city and to 20 natural objects, in all regions of Kazakhstan. And in August, within the framework of the expedition called “Altai – the cradle of civilization”, we will come back to the East Kazakhstan region with famous Kazakhstani travelers, bloggers, and the mass media representatives», - added Dulat Iman, the Director of PR and Marketing Department of the “Kazakh Tourism” National Company.
Aside from the main goals of the expedition, the team also managed to congratulate Astana, the capital city, with its 20th anniversary by hoisting the city flag over the tallest summit of the Altai Mountains.
«Mountaineers say that the best time to climb Belukha is from the 15 of July to the 15 of August. But we picked this week for the expedition to congratulate our capital with its 20th birthday by bringing its flag to Belukha’s summit» - said Giovanni Capannelli.
As a part of the project, a documentary film about the unique expedition will be created and the environmental research will be carried out in Altay Mountains to improve and increase the number of touristic routes and to develop eco-tourism in the country. The expedition helped to collect the information on the improvement and expansion of existing tourist guides and develop new detailed maps of mountain hiking routes in the Katon-Karagai National Park.
For further information, please contact: UNDP Communications Officer in Kazakhstan Anar Kassymova at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +7 (7172) 696 544 (2629) and UNDP Biodiversity Projects Communications Specialist Sultan Khudaibergenov at email@example.com, +7 701 9430690
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