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Photo shoot “in the clouds and on Mars”. Why go to the Bartogai reservoir

13 April 2021

160 kilometers from Almaty there is a place of rare beauty where you can relax from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here, among the swirling water on the dam, amazing shots are obtained. Today in this article we will tell you about the Bartogai reservoir and its surroundings.

The Bartogai story

Six kilometers long, three kilometers wide, 25 meters deep, the Bartogai reservoir is located in the Enbekshikazakh district of Almaty region on the Chilik River, 10 kilometers from the village of Asysaga. About 320 million cubic meters of water are placed in its basin the size of two Gibraltar islands, which are used to irrigate 150 thousand hectares of land at the foot of the Ile-Alatau. The reservoir appeared in the 70s, when due to the expansion of Almaty and the need for new water resources, it was decided to “regenerate” the Bartogai tract. This reservoir accumulates meltwater in winter to use it for watering fields in the summer.

Photo ©Shutterstock

The facility was built and commissioned in 1985. The country’s leadership ordered to irrigate an additional 100 thousand hectares of fields. To accomplish this task, we decided to build a special channel 168 kilometers long – the Big Almaty Canal. And in order to ensure a stable water flow even in the sultry summer, a large reservoir was built near the Chilik River.

Photo ©Shutterstock

There is a beautiful picturesque grove nearby. It is no wonder that this place was given the name Bartogai, which can be translated as “here is a forest”.

Interesting fact. The Bartogai Forest itself has been around for a long time. This is evidenced by the numerous mounds found here. According to archaeologists, these are the graves of ancient tribes of the Saks who lived on the territory of Kazakhstan in the VIII-III centuries BC. Perhaps the Bartogai tract still silently preserves the mystical secrets of the Saka tribes, for whom this place was sacred. Here they not only buried the deceased with honors, but also celebrated holidays and performed rituals.

“In the early 80s, the Chilik River was blocked by a 60-meter stone-embankment dam 330 meters long. This is how the Bartogai reservoir appeared. The Bartogai reservoir is part of the TANK system (the Big Almaty Canal). The Bartogai reservoir, limited by the dam, allows regulating up to 870 million cubic meters of water, which is 90 percent of the water flow of the Chilik River. Moreover, the volume of Bartogai was 320 million cubic meters. This is a unique hydraulic structure that allows to save the villagers from constant uncertainty about the future, there will be water or not. The year turned out to be low-water, or high-water – now the peasants are always guaranteed the right amount of water for irrigation.

The Great Almaty Canal, which was 168 kilometers long, serves for the gravity supply of the regulated flow of the Chilik River to the basins of the Turgen, Issyk, Kaskelen and others rivers and further to the fields of farms concentrated around them. All the costs that were made during the construction of the Barthogai and the TANK paid off exactly in the time stipulated by the calculations – in 10 years,” this is how they describe appearance and result of the creation of the Bartogai reservoir.

The water from the Chilik River, which enters the artificial reservoir, has a low temperature, no more than 12 degrees. Which, however, does not prevent you from enjoying warm and clean water in the summer. Swimming in a mountain lake in summer is a pleasure that is difficult to compare with anything.

By the way, fishermen can catch carp, crucian carp, carp and trout in the Bartogai reservoir.

The reservoir itself is located at an altitude of 1,060 meters above sea level. It is surrounded by the majestic mountains of Sogety in the west and Toraigyr in the east. The surroundings of the reservoir have been popular with tourists for many years. The Bartogai reservoir is often organize jeep tours. Supporters of water sports can try their hand at rafting or kayaking. You can start from the spillway point, where the 13-kilometer canyon of the Chilik River begins. It is believed that this site is extremely extreme and is rated up to four points in complexity. However, when the spillway is not so rough (up to 100 cubic meters per second), then the site seems ideal for rafting. Those who are not keen on extreme sports can just walk along the paths and admire the beautiful scenery.

Photo ©Shutterstock

The dam is a unique location for photos

They also come here to watch the incredible spectacle of how water from the reservoir enters the Chilik River. For this purpose, two tunnels are used, each of which has a diameter of three meters. Under a gigantic pressure, a large amount of liquid is ejected. At this time, you can see an amazing sight – a bright rainbow appears before your eyes under the rays of the sun. People come from different parts of Kazakhstan to see it. And, of course, this place is a unique location for spectacular photos and videos.

The length of the dam along the upper part is about 330 meters, and the height is about 60 meters.  But to pass to the spillway, you need to have a special permit. It can be obtained from the directorate of the Big Almaty Canal. By the way, in ancient times there was a dacha in the forest on the site of the dam, where the first persons of the state rested.

In order to get to the dam, it is necessary to pass the post, drive a three-hundred-meter tunnel located directly in the rock. Then, after taking a few turns, you descend into the floodplain of the river, where an incredibly beautiful picture will open to your eyes.

Photo ©Shutterstock

Two powerful streams of water break free with some incomprehensible speed. If you are standing on the edge of a dam, it seems that no barrier in the world is able to withstand such a powerful flow. Dozens of rainbows are visible below, and cool water dust is able to completely soak clothes and shoes.

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