Kazakhstan: The Samuryk Flies Again

19 Jul

The Samuryk, a phoenix-like bird of Kazakh legend, is taking flight once again – this time in the form of the Samuryk Paragliding club, which meets in the hills above Almaty to evoke the spirit of this mythical bird.

A paraglider takes to the skies at Ush Konyr

Most weekends Almaty’s paragliding fans gather at Ush Konyr, which is located just outside the village of Shamalgan, to soar into the skies off the steep escarpment that towers above the plain that is home to Kazakhstan’s commercial hub. The site is famous across the former Soviet Union with paragliders and is home to many competitions in season.

The Samuryk and its nesting place play a key role in Kazakh mythology. One of the most famous landmarks in Astana is Bayterek, a 97m-tall observation tower built at the centre of its main drag. The glass ball at the top of the structure represents the Samuryk’s egg.

Bayterek, Astsna, Kazakhstan

According to legend, the Samuryk returned every year to lay its egg, representing the sun, in the upper branches of the tree of life known as Bayterek. This egg was then devoured by a dragon, symbolising the eternal rhythm of night replacing day and winter following summer.

Returning to the modern-day Samuryks, this summer will see various competitions taking place at Ush Konyr with it hosting stage 4 of the Russian Open Paragliding Cup 16-21 August, the Open Kazakhstan Championship 22-27 August, and the Open CIS Cup 28 August – 2 September. 

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