Kazakhstan's natural beauty is stunning, and if you like outdoor activities and adventures you will definitely love this part of the planet! Kazakhstan has a varied landscape consisting of deep gorges and sparkling lakes surrounded by large mountains. Become familiar with the country's distinctive lifestyle and taste the local drink shubat, made from camel milk. Book your trip to Kazakhstan with KILROY!
Kazakhstan is the destination you should go to if you are looking for adventure off the beaten track, and a place that has not yet been discovered by mass tourism. Remember Borat (Ali G) from the movie of the same name? He comes from this country!
Kazakhstan is the world's 9th largest country and is a true multicultural nation with 15 million inhabitants living in the beautiful mountain scenery. Kazakhstan borders on China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as well as the Caspian Sea. The country has an interesting geography and is especially suitable for the active backpacker seeking challenging adventure out of the ordinary!
Staying with local Kazakhs will definitely surprise you, since this is a very hospitable people with an open attitude and fantastic riding skills. In some places one can still today find nomads who live by the old traditions.
Almaty in Kazakhstan
Almaty was the capital until 1997 before Astana was declared the capital. Almaty is the largest city, and probably also the most prosperous. For many travelers the city mainly serves a starting point for onward transportation, but once you are here we recommend to set aside a few days to see what the city has to offer.
Almaty is beautifully situated between open fields and mighty mountain peaks and the city's atmosphere is influenced by Russia. However, the Kazakh influence has grown dramatically in recent times. Stroll around the streets, admire modern architecture, fountains and parks in natural surroundings. You will also find a good selection of shops, hotels, restaurants, cool cafes and theaters.
Almaty is arguably the country's focal point when it comes to nightlife! Among the many attractions we can mention Panfilov Park where you can watch the highest wooden building in the world. All national parades and festivals are held at City Hall and New Square. Central State Museum, State Art Museum (with traditional Kazakh ornaments and clothes) and Museum of Kazakh National Instruments are also worth seeing. If you like saunas, we have good news - in Panfilov Park you should pay a visit to Arasan Baths with Russian and Finnish saunas for an interesting cultural experience!
Trekking, skiing and other fun outdoor activities in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is known for its rugged landscape and graceful mountain ranges, and you can see the world's two northernmost mountain peaks which are up to 7,000 meters high, a large glacier and lovely views of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China. Spectacular!
Medeu (1700 m) and Chimbulak (2300 m) are perfect destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. Medeu is a large ice skating rink, and Chimbulak is a renowned ski resort around half an hour from Almaty. You can also ski from both of these places, and we recommend a hike to the lake Issyk-w. Just note that there is a risk of avalanches all year round!
The mountain range Tian Shan with its majestic peaks, and the three bright blue lakes called Kolsai Lakes located in the mountain range Kungei Alatau is definitely worth a visit. Here you can go sailing, fishing, horseback riding and swimming as well as skiing and ice skating in winter. If you crave organized and more physically demanding activities such as climbing and hiking you should contact Khan Tengri International Mountaineering Camp. If water sports are more your thing, just head for the river 'Il River' nestled between Lake Qapshaghay and Lake Balhash, where there are lots of cool activities for you!
Nature reserves in Kazakhstan
The nature reserve 'Kurgaldjino' is located in northern Kazakhstan, and includes the world's northernmost population of beautiful pink flamingos. The nature reserve 'Naurzum' has a wonderfully varied landscape of pine trees and sand dunes. Bird enthusiasts can watch swans and eagles here. In central Kazakhstan you'll find the large and unique lake 'Balkh', which consists of saltwater and freshwater - worth seeing, no doubt!
Climate in Kazakhstan
The Kazakh winter is extremely cold, so the best time of year to travel here is in the summer months of July and August. May and September are also ok. Are you planning to go hiking in the country's eastern regions, we recommend to travel between June and September. The ski season lasts from November to April.
Travelling around Kazakhstan
Start the journey with arrival to Almaty or Astana from Europe. In Kazakhstan there are buses to almost all villages and big cities, but the standard of the buses are not particularly good, and the roads are somewhat bumpy.
Taxi service is available in all cities, but make sure you only use certified taxies. From Chimkent the train company 'Turk Sib' has two daily departures; one to Novo Siberia (Russian Federation) and one to Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Both trains stop at various places along the way. Tashkent can also be reached by train from Aralsk, Aqtobe, Kyzylorda and Turkistan.
Getting to Kyrgyzstan is a bit more complicated. Take a bus or minivan from Almaty to Bishkek - and then hitchhike your way further. For entry into Turkmenistan you must cross the border about 20 km from Zhanaozen, and from there travel on to Bekdash. Make sure you buy train tickets well in advance, and bring your own lunch. Take good care of your belongings on board the train. Some believe that it is safer to travel by bus than train.
KILROY's Travel Tips in Kazakhstan
Taste the famous Kazakh chai tea that you can get at local cafes, called Chai-Khan - teashop. If you are planning to travel to more remote areas you may come across the opportunity to test the local beverage 'Shubat', or in other words - camel milk. You should also try 'Plov' - a delicious dish made of fried rice, carrots, meat and chunks of tomato or raisins. Since both Kazakhstan and its neighboring countries are somewhat challenging destinations we recommend organising round trips with the tour operator Dragoman. They can help you get the best experiences without having to waste precious time by understanding the transport network and provide accommodation. We guarantee an adventourous travel experience! Last but not least: remember to obtain a visa well in advance of your trip.