The map contains not only a visual image of the territory, but also current, creative legends about infrastructure, guides, wonderful local historians, beekeepers with phone numbers and many other useful data, including routes, places to stay and even local apples.
- We (Historical and geographical society «Avalon») have been creating tourist maps and guides for about ten years. During this time, we have worked in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries, - said the website sayahatnews.kz President of «Avalon» Vitaly Shuptar. - Often this activity is carried out by us in the framework of a project for the development of eco-tourism. For example, we are currently working on a map of Buiratau. In general, we know firsthand about tourism and travel, because we have been working in this field for a long time.
One of the main problems of Kazakhstan's tourism, in Vitaly's opinion, is that the majority of people do not know the location and context of local attractions. If the Kazakhs themselves know little about interesting places they have literally on the doorstep, then foreign tourists will not have such information, and even more so. At the same time, local residents in remote rural regions, who could earn by receiving tourists and providing them with various services, do not get these same incomes. Specially protected natural areas, with the exception of two or three of the most popular, can not boast a large number of visitors. All this problems V. Shuptar believes, mean lost incomes and unrealized opportunities. Therefore, tourists and those who can help them need to be "connected" in some way. Tourist maps, made by «Avalon», in his opinion, are the best tool for this.
- Working on the map, we are trying to create something similar to a mini-guide, which combines overview maps of tourist sites, cities and villages, more detailed maps of the most important areas, information about attractions, accommodation, transport, and so on. In other words, our printed products answer not only the questions of «where and how», but also «why», the President of «Avalon» continued.
We are not limited to the printed version. We try, as far as possible, to work out the territory in the main web mapping systems ("Google Maps"," OpenStreetMap","Wikimapia"). Our map is getting to be an intermediate point on the way to creating a full - fledged tourist guide for the same region in the future.
In 2016, the restless Vitaly came up with the idea to create maps for all specially protected natural territories of Kazakhstan, first of all, for its national parks and reserves, because there are located the vast majority of tourist sites: natural and historical. And then Shuptar and his associates began to search of funding.
- In the end, all this took shape in the two-year project «Cartography as a tool for ecotourism development in Kazakhstan» supported by the US Embassy in Kazakhstan. However, the project covered only six regions, one of which was the Dzungarian Alatau. Unfortunately, we managed to develop and publish only two maps (the Northern Aral Sea region and Karkaraly, which were released in the fall of 2018), while work on the remaining four could not be completed due to technical difficulties. An error was discovered in the design of the grenade, which was made (not by us), and therefore the grant was terminated automatically, - complains Vitaly. - Then we started looking for sponsors in order to complete the work on semi-finished maps of Dzungaria, Rudny Altai, Sairam-Ugam and Kokshetau region. Such a patron (he wished to remain anonymous) was found. Thanks to him, in 2020 we were able to complete the work on the map of the Dzungarian Alatau.
According to Vitaly Shuptar, about three million tenge was spent to create this map. Why the choice was made in favor of Dzungaria, among others?
- First, this region has never been much known among tourists. Many people have heard about the Burhan-Bulak waterfall, honey from Lepsinsk, rock paintings of Eshkiolmes and the ancient settlement of Koylyk, but few people do not know exactly where it all is. And secondly, various tourism development projects are being implemented in the foothills of the Dzungarian Alatau. We always want to support such initiatives, says Vitaly.
He also clarified that good cards are not made just sitting idle at home. To get a high-quality publication, you need to see the territory with your own eyes, pass it with your own feet, and better - several times. He visited Dzungaria himself in 2012, so he had imagined the scenario of work.
- But we were able to get acquainted with the region in the summer of 2018 during a small expedition there, in which we tried to see all the most interesting things. We were actively helped by the management and employees of the Zhongar-Alatau national Park (with some of them we became very close friends and, I hope, we will meet again in future trips), - says Vitaly. - Only being here, you can access the outstanding universal value of a tourist object or the real quality of the road; only in person can you evaluate the people and companies whose contacts you will specify (and, recommend) in your map. Well, there are some things that cannot be felt at a distance - like honey and Mead from Lepsinsk and poplar, as well as the fruit of the famous Apple tree Sievers-all this must be tasted live.
In the case of Dzungaria, this is the most complex map that «Avalon» has ever made. But here they learned another lesson: «you can't do everything by yourself», and in this case you need to look for reliable partners, as well as consultants. In addition to the national Park, whose employees helped the «Avalon» society in creating the map, another valuable consultant was Anatoly Savichev from the tourist company "ACT Kazakhstan" - a man who, according to Vitaly, «crawled» Dzungaria along and across. In short, a good map is usually a collective effort, the cartographer admits.
- I would like to hope that our work on Dzungaria does not end there. For example, in this map, the main emphasis was placed on the territory of the national Park, so it was not quite complete to cover the Western Dzungaria. There is an idea to make a separate and more detailed map of the Western part of the mountainous country, which would include the Korin and Koksu valleys, as well as all that is located nearby: Kapal, Bayanzhurek, Eshkiolmes, and so on, - he says. Well, as for other regions, we are still waiting for sponsors who will be able to support the completion of work on the maps of Sairam-Ugam, Kokshetau and Rudny Altai.
Photo by Vitaly Shuptar