Aksu-Zhabagly national park in south Kazakhstan
Aksu-Zhabagly is Kazakhstan’s oldest national park. Located near Kazakhstan’s southern capital Shymkent, Aksu-Zhabagly is famous for its show of wild tulips in spring. It’s also a hot spot for birdwatchers and a few days in the reserve will definitely get you a sighting of a bear, a marmot or a wild mountain sheep.
Backpackers who don’t plan to camp and hike on trails outside of the national park will find Aksu-Zhabagly expensive. They are better off visiting the nearby Sayram-Ugam national park, which has similar natural attractions but lower prices. On the Uzbek side of the mountains, there is the Chatkal reserve.