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Your service was excellent, and as a matter of fact we felt slightly overindulged in luxury and too well looked after at some moments.
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Epic Kazakhstan: Astana to Almaty via the Aral Sea

Get ready for the journey of a lifetime: from the capital city of Astana to the Aral Sea, from old Silk Road stopovers to the Aksu-Jabagly natural reserves, this trip takes voyagers through the best that Kazakhstan has to offer. You will explore major cities, small villages and natural landscapes, even spending several days exploring on a four-wheel drive adventure. For culture, for history, for nature and for adventure, this wide-ranging trip has it all, and more.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Explore an old labor prison outside of the capital city of Astana
  • Pick up scraps of metal from old shipwrecks in the former port of the Aralsk
  • Visit the famous Mausoleum of Hodzha Ahmed Yasswi in Turkestan T
  • our Altyn Emel national park on a 4WD, spotting wild donkeys and gazelles
 
Starting at
$11,300
per person
View more details
Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Your exciting adventure begins today as you leave your home country to arrive in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, at night. You’ll be escorted to your hotel, where you may settle in and relax ahead of your big adventure ahead.

Day 2

After getting some much-needed sleep, you will explore the city highlights, including the landmark Baiterek Tower and the pyramid-shaped Khan-Shatyr shopping and entertainment center, before heading outside of town to visit an old labor prison. You will return to Astana for the evening to relax and enjoy a restful sleep.

Day 3
Aralsk

Today, you will begin your journey towards the Aral Sea, taking a plane and train toward the former port of Aralsk, now 124 miles from the shore. Arriving very late in the evening, you will be transferred to a local homestay for the night.

Day 4
Aralsk

Spend the day exploring the former port of the Aral Sea, checking out the remains of stranded ships and visiting the local museum, learning about the area’s fascinating history. You will once again stay overnight with a local family.

Day 5
Aralsk Turkestan

Enjoy some more time exploring Aralsk at your leisure - checking out any attractions you may have missed in the days before - before boarding an overnight train for Turkestan, located nearly 500 miles to the east.

Day 6

After travelling overnight from Aralsk, you will arrive in Turkestan in the afternoon with enough time to explore the historic city before dinner. One of Kazakhstan’s oldest cities, Turkestan dates back as far as the 4th century AD.

Day 7
Turkestan - Tjulkabas

Today, you will have the chance to visit the famous Mausoleum of Hodzha Ahmed Yasswi, built in the late 14th century in memory of the prophet Hodzha Yassawi. In the afternoon, you will explore the ruins of Otrar, once a stop of the Silk Road, before boarding a train for the village of Tjulkabas - about 124 miles east – where you will stay overnight in a guesthouse.

Day 8
Aksu-Jabagly

Today, you’ll head back to the Aksu-Jabagly natural reserve, visiting the Aksu canyon, carved by the Aksu river. Once again, enjoy a picturesque picnic lunch during your day-long excursion, and stay overnight at your guesthouse.

Day 9

This morning, you’ll board a train to the city of Taraz, located in the Jambyl Province. After getting settled in, you’ll embark on a city tour, checking out the history museum and the mausoleums of Alye Ata and Aisha Bibi and learning about the city’s history as a stop on the Silk Road. In the evening, you will catch a sleeper train to Almaty, 435 miles east.

Day 10

After arriving by morning in Kazakhstan’s largest city, you will be transferred to your hotel where you will have time to rest and refresh. After lunch, you’ll step into the city’s bustling streets, visiting the Panfilov park, the Zenkov Cathedral and the musical instrument museum.

Day 11
Altyn Emel

Get ready to kick back into nature! Today is the first of several days you will explore the Almaty Province in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Your adventure will begin in the Kapachagai reservoir and Altyn Emel national park (around 4 hours' drive), where you will spot wild donkeys and gazelles in the semi-desert and rocky mountain landscapes, before settling in at hotel Altyn Emel for dinner and overnight.

Day 12
Altyn Emel - Basshi

Today, you will explore the red-hued Aktau and Kakatau mountain ranges, hiking through the spectacular landscape as you take in truly epic panoramas, before spending the night in a guesthouse in the village of Basshi.

Day 13
Basshi - Saty

You will embark on a journey from Basshi to the border of Kyrgyzstan (around 5 hours), passing by semi-nomadic tribes before reaching the first of three Kolsai mountain lakes. Elevated more than seven miles in altitude, this area is ideally-positioned to offer excellent views and trails for hiking and horse riding. Enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in a homestay in the village of Saty.

Day 14
Charyn Canyon Almaty

Beginning your journey back to Almaty: you will visit Charyn Canyon, a spectacular 124-mile-long natural canyon, as well as a museum about hunting with eagles, known as “berkutchi.” You will arrive back in Almaty some 4 hours later to stay overnight in your hotel.

Day 15
Medeo & Chymbulaq

Head just south of the city to the Medeo ice-skating rink, a world-famous complex situated over one mile in elevation. For even better views and hiking trails, you can go higher to the Chymbulaq ski resort (1.4 miles high) or even the top of the mountain, at nearly two miles high.

Day 16

Enjoy a free day exploring Almaty, checking out shops, local museums and nearby hikes. You will once again stay overnight at your hotel, resting up on your last night in Kazakhstan ahead of your onward journey tomorrow.

Day 17
Departure

After your exciting two-and-a-half week journey through Kazakhstan, it is time to say goodbye. You’ll check out of your hotel and be escorted to their airport, or where you’ll either return home, or continue on to your next Central Asian destination.

 

Suggested Accommodations

Location
Accommodation
ASTANA
Marriott Astana Hotel, Radisson Hotel

Marriott Astana Hotel


From the moment guests walk into the golden, adorned lobby of the Marriott Astana Hotel, they will be whisked away into a world of all things chic, sleek and sophisticated. Located just steps from the shops and restaurants of the new city center of Astana, the Marriott offers guests the best location to take in the nearby city sights, such as the Bayterek monument and the city parks. With over 270 guestrooms and suites and an on-site health club and indoor pool, guests of the Marriott can relax after a busy day of sightseeing and shopping before enjoying a gourmet meal at Aroma Restaurant. To cap off the night, visitors can indulge in a cocktail and a view at Vista Sky Lounge, overlooking the capital city. 


 

Radisson Hotel


For comfort, style, and the glitz and glamor of a cosmopolitan center, welcome to the Radisson Hotel in downtown Astana, Kazakhstan. This riverside hotel - located at the intersection of the old city and the new - defines modern luxury, from its regional art decor to its Cigar Bar, its grand ballroom to its expansive fitness and spa center. Staying just steps from the adjoining Arman complex, guests of the Radisson have everything they may desire within arm’s reach: world-class shopping, gourmet restaurants, an indoor pool, a nightclub and even an on-site brewery! Guests can choose between Standard and Business Class Rooms and Junior, Presidential and Royal Suites, all furnished with high-end decor for sleek, smooth style and comfort.  


 
 
TURKESTAN
The Turkestan Hotel

The Turkestan Hotel

Hotel Turkestan, quite appropriately, lies at the heart of Turkestan city in South Kazakhstan. Guests have a choice of standard rooms (double or twin) or can upgrade to a deluxe. The no-frills rooms are basic and could do with a bit of an upgrade, although that's not to say they don't offer a comfortable stay for one or two nights. The grand lobby does its best to bump up the star-rating of the Turkestan, and there's also a bar and restaurant serving a buffet-style breakfast every morning. The real reason guests stop here is to explore the surrounding region, which boasts various attractions illustrating area's rich and long history. The city of Turkestan, about 200 miles northwest of the larger Taraz city, has played a significant role in shaping Kazakhstan into the country it is today, and this city is considered to be sacred for many Kazakhs.
 
 
ALMATY
Ritz-Carlton Almaty

Ritz-Carlton Almaty

Occupying the top ten floors of the Esentai Tower, the Ritz Carlton enjoys unrivalled views of Almaty and the sweeping, jagged, snow-peaked Ile-Alatau mountain range. Guests choosing to stay here have the best of both worlds with easy access to the city and all its famous historic sights as well as the ski slopes in the national park to the south. After a long day on the piste or exploring the city, guests can ascend the escalator into the luxurious surroundings and enjoy all that the hotel has to offer. With restaurants and bars decorated with the latest works from the hottest modern artists in the country, from cocktails with a view to sumptuous dishes prepared with expertise, dining and drinking at the Ritz Carlton is a feast for the senses. Rooms and suites boast stunning panoramas and are fitted with every modern convenience and comfort. Meanwhile, the acclaimed Six Senses Spa offers a retreat from the stresses of everyday life. 

 
 
Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Victoria is a big fan of Central Asia in general and Kazakhstan in particular - especially its friendly, welcoming people and spectacular landscapes.
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