One of the most fascinating cities in the world and an impressive destination in Central Asia, the capital of Kazakhstan has a lot to offer for tourists who are interested in unusual destinations. Initially named Akmola, the city became known as Astana in 1998. Then, in 2019, it was renamed again, in honor of the former president Nursultan Nazarbayev.
This distinguished capital city, which actually received the title of The City of Peace from UNESCO in 1999, is an eclectic mix of rich history, beautiful natural environment, extreme temperatures, and ultra-modern architecture. It could be called a city of contrasts, since it is both an old settling, with a turbulent history, and a modern destination for tourists, that has been often compared to Dubai.
Geographically, Nur-Sultan is situated in northern Kazakhstan, on the banks of the Ishim River. Originally a semi-arid steppe, it has developed enormously over the decades. Not only did its land seem unfit for growth and development, but it also tested its inhabitants with a very harsh climate. As of 1997, Nur-Sultan is officially the second-coldest capital city in the world.
With its impressive mix of modernism and history, as well as challenging temperatures and environment, Nur-Sultan is one of the destinations that would be hard to forget. Here are some of the things that Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana, is famous for.
Challenge Yourself With Urban Ice Fishing
The Ishim River, which is the backbone of Kazakhstan’s capital city, is frozen starting approximately from November until the beginning of April. If you also consider the temperatures that drop down to −31 °F, it’s no wonder that ice fishing is one of the favorite activities of Kazakh citizens. Seasoned fishermen have their own favorite spots and travel to the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve.
Ice fishing has become popular for several reasons, one of them being that fishing is forbidden during the summer, in the Nature Reserve, because there are hundreds of species of birds that need to be protected and studied. On the other hand, ice fishing is favorable for bringing a dose of oxygen into the water, during harsh winters, when the rivers and lakes are completely covered with ice.
Ice fishing in Nur-Sultan is exciting but there are also precautions that tourists need to take. Locals are accustomed to the harsh weather conditions and have developed unique, unusual methods of protecting themselves during ice fishing. However, tourists who want to try this winter activity should wear proper clothes and special gloves forice fishing.
The Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve is not too far away from the city and it is known for its multitude of lakes and the Nura River. The river supplies the lakes with fresh water, which in turn contributes to the development of aquatic plants and the growth of fish.
Experience the Adventure of Ice Fishing
Seasoned fishermen in Nur-Sultan warn against the risks of unpredictable weather and also the possibility of not catching any fish. Wearing protective gear is essential for preventing hypothermia and being protected against strong winds. Not even the most experienced fishermen in the local area know exactly how much fish they are able to catch on any particular day.
The unpredictability only adds to the excitement and adventure of ice fishing in the former Astana. Plus, brave tourists or beginner fishermen also need to watch out for aggressive fish. You can actually get a pike bite that is quite difficult to heal. Another particularity of ice fishing in Kazakhstan is that the fish might be too heavy to pull out.
This is where comradery between fishermen plays an important part. The exciting feeling of trying to pull out a big fish out of the water is something that needs to be shared with the other fishermen on the ice.
The fish in the Nur-Sultan waters can reach up to 20 kilograms and they can easily slip. Sharing this unique experience, as well as receiving and offering help is one of the most amazing things about ice fishing.
Watching local citizens fish on the Ishim River is a unique experience in itself. The traditional way of protecting themselves against freezing temperatures is to cover themselves entirely with a plastic bag, creating a sealed structure that effectively prevents cold and wind from reaching them. Seeing these types of fishermen spread across the river as bizarre human islands is a fascinating experience.
The best time for ice fishing is either in the first hours of the morning or in the evening. This only adds to the sense of mystery and oneness with nature. In order to catch impressive fish, the people who wish to try ice fishing need to have certain skills, the proper bait, a decent ice fishing rod and a lot of determination. Isolating yourself in the middle of an icy river is truly a remarkable experience.