If you're staying at the Klimovka Recreation Center in remote East Kazakhstan and a helicopter starts buzzing overhead, don't be alarmed. It's probably the country's President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, arriving by his favorite conveyance. He'll be staying in the President's Cabin, which comes complete with a sauna, a plunge pool, silk rugs, Italian designer furniture, a high-tech entertainment system and even wireless Internet all pretty palatial for bear country.
Tucked away in the Altai Mountains and surrounded by verdant meadows, forest-clad slopes and snow-frosted peaks, Klimovka is about six miles (10 km) from the southern border of the West Altai Nature Reserve, a 138,000-acre (56,000 hectares) region. region of pristine taiga forest and mountain tundra. Apart from Siberian brown bears, you can see elk, large maral deer, wild argali sheep, wolves, wolverines and sable. Klimovka began as a hunting lodge in 1998, and while hunts are still popular in season, they're expensive and strict kill quotas are set. You may prefer to simply ride or hike through the surrounding country, raft on the White Uba River, cross-country ski in winter or take helicopter tours to remote glaciers, high-altitude lakes and the sacred Mount Belukha on the border with Russia.
Nonpresidential accommodation takes the form of basic cabins (from two to six bedrooms) or two surprisingly opulent "executive cabins." And should President Nazarbayev not be in residence, his digs are available at a cool $1,250 a night. For more information on a highly original wilderness getaway, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (7-323) 36 222 75.
by Jeremy Tredinnick
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