Trans Eurasia travel

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Karkaraly National Park

The establishment in 1884 of the Karkaralinsk Forest Reserve marked the start of the protection of these pine-covered granite hills. At Komissarovka, an isolated lakeside spot south of Karkaraly, the wooden forest warden's house, completed in 1913, still stands, offering an attractive vision of pitched roofs and painted window frames against a mountain backdrop. Several administrative changes later, the Karkaraly State National Nature Park was set up in 1998. A favoured site during the Soviet period for industrial workers and young pioneers to get in touch with nature, the Karkaraly Hills hosted the Soviet orienteering championships in 1986.

One of the most popular walking trails through the hills runs north from the Shakhtyor House of Rest to Lake Shaytankol. The 'Devil's Lake', nestled amidst an upland terrain of pines and rocky crags, is said to have received its downbeat name from the frequency of the occasions in which locals on hunting trips lost their way home in its vicinity. They concluded that the malevolence of the devil was at work.