I'd heard of a forest near Astana; Sophia had gone there on a field trip in 2nd grade and it was mentioned on the Astana International Club web site as a day trip. So I wrote down the directions to the forest as well as the directions for a suggested path to take, and off we went, just Sophia and me.
The forest is about a 30 to 45 minute drive from downtown Astana, past the huge Metro store on the Karaganda highway. We parked in a small parking area with a few other cars. A family was picnicking to our left. To our right there was a small guard station and an entrance to what I assumed was the forest.
We first walked around the area near the parking lot. It was similar to a small woods, with birch trees and quite a bit of undergrowth. It has rained quite a bit this summer for Astana, so my guess is that there is usually not that much undergrowth. There were overgrown trails and it was nice, nothing special.
Then we decided to try the recommended path. We passed the guard house and turned left down a dirt road and soon turned left again onto another dirt road. Here we came to a fork; judging from what I had written down, I guessed that we should go right. We walked for quite a bit down this road, never near a forest. (In fact, the only "forest" we had seen so far was the cluster of trees near the parking lot.) We weren't in the steppe either; there were some small trees planted in rows on our right; on our left were bushes. Some of the bushes had red or orange berries. A family drove up and got out to collect some berries.
The temperature wasn't too hot, but the sky was clear and the sun bright, and soon we were hot and not quite happy. I pressed on, and soon we came to what looked like an overgrown meadow with some birch trees. We wandered through here a bit, off the dirt road, and finally turned around.
On our way back, we met a Kazakh man who had gone mushroom-picking. He told me the name of the berries, which unfortunately I have forgotten, and that they are edible. Each berry has one seed on the inside, almost as large as the berry itself.
I'm wondering if I should have turned left at the junction. The people who wrote about this forest on the International Club web site seemed to really enjoy it.
It could perhaps be a nice place to go for a picnic, when the weather is a bit cooler. But Central Park in Astana is also nice, and a lot closer. We'll probably come back at some point, just to get out of the city!
Later on, I remembered a "resort" that is further outside of Astana, near where my friend is building a house. Her brother-in-law had discovered it and recommended it, so one day last year we went. We had to pay go go in (not much) and it was just a small, dirty place, with a tiny and incredibly dirty pond. In comparison, the forest is marvelous.
|Near the parking lot|
|Our hike--maybe we should have taken the road on the left?|
|Berries! If anyone can name them for me, I'd be delighted.|
|Meadow? Forest? It was pretty.|
|View of Astana from to road to the forest.|