The Valley of Castles in Charin river canyon
(In the fotoes) The valley of Castls of the river Charin.
There is a place, called Valley of Castles, not far from Alma-Ata - the capital of Kazakhistan - about 200 km in the direction of Narincol in Sogatinskaya valley.
The water of Charin river carved splendid canyons in the valley, which looks like the Great Canyon in Colorado. The red rocks, sculpted by thousands of years of erosion, have taken on striking, bizarre forms where turreted structures that seem to have been moulded by mysterious hands rise up impressively. Nature here is rich in flowers and animals: snow leopard, Golden eagle, wolfs, foxes. This region is perfect for travelling, paraplanes, rafting. To get to this Valley from Alma-Ata takes about 6 hours by car or 30 minutes by helicopter, flying over the enchanting Zaaliyskiy range of Northern Tien-Shan.
The Golden Eagle
Hunting with the golden eagle is an ancient tradition that dates back to the Mongol conquest of Central Asia around the 12th and 13th centuries, when a fine eagle and good horse cost the same price and both lent prestige to their owner. But though falconry is gradually disappearing in this area, in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan there are still nomads who, according to traditional falconry, from October to February hunt with eagles and ride on specially trained horses called "bercut." Kazakhs and Kyrgyz are experts in training eagles for hunting. They even manage to get the bird to kill the prey while scarcely leaving a mark on its fur. Yet training eagles takes a lot of time (3-4 years), must be done by the same person, and requires constant daily application. When the golden eagle is still a chick, the trainer personally feeds it and speaks to it so that the tone of his voice is imprinted in the animal's mind. Later on, the eagle is able to distinguish human voices and will obey only that of his master. When the eagle is almost an adult, the trainer shows it the hides and furs of the animals it must hunt so that it becomes used to the smell and characteristics of the prey; all this is done with special commands.
Sent out to bunt fawns, foxes, or other small animals, the eagle dives down on them and kills them. But often it is also capable of killing young wolves when they cannot negotiate the deep snow. Sometimes the eagles hunt in fairs, just as they do in the natural state.
To be continued...