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Trekking through History in Kazakhstan

Explore the natural beauty and the complex history of Kazakhstan with this diverse itinerary: bringing you from former labor camps and the Museum of Memory of Political Repression Victims in the Dolinka settlement to the nature trails of the Turgen Gorge and the majestic Tien Shan mountains, you will gain an understanding of Kazakhstan’s often dark history, its incredible natural beauty and its bright future.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Visit a former “ALZHIR” correctional camp where female “traitors” were sent in the Stalin era Marvel at ancient petroglyphs at Zangyr-tas place
  • Explore monuments and an archaeological dig in the medieval settlement of Baskamyr
  • Enjoy an overnight stay in a Baitleu winter hut, experiencing local living
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Welcome to Kazakhstan! After you arrive in Astana, you will be transferred to your hotel to rest before heading out in the town for an afternoon tour. Check out some of the city’s main sites – including its modern architecture – before enjoying dinner and an overnight stay in your hotel.

Day 2
Astana - Karaganda

Today you’ll kick things into high gear, first by taking a day trip to the nearby Akmol village to visit a former “ALZHIR” correctional camp where female “traitors” were sent in the Stalin era, then by taking a mini-bus to Karaganda (around 4 hours from Astana), where you will tour former labor camps. You will stay overnight in Karaganda.

Day 3
Karaganda - Dolinka - Zhezkazgan

Enjoy the morning touring the city center of Karaganda before heading 31 miles to the Dolinka settlement to visit the Museum of Memory of Political Repression Victims and the House of Officers, where local military men once lived. After heading back to Karaganda, board a night train to Zhezkazgan, 310 miles west.

Day 4
Zhezkazgan - Ulytau village

Today, you will arrive in Zhezkazgan, a city located on the reservoir of the Kara-Kengir River. Spend the morning exploring the city’s historical and archaeological museum before journeying to the nearby Alasha-khan mausoleum and to Zangyr-tas place, where you can view ancient petroglyphs. From there, you will travel to Ulytau village for dinner and an overnight stay in a guesthouse.

Day 5
Ulytau village - Baitleu

Get your day off to a good start with a trek to the bottom and then the top of Auliye (Ulytau) mountain, where you can visit ancient graves and explore a cave. After returning to Ulytau village, you will travel to nearby Altynshoky and then to Baitleu winter hut, where you will stay overnight and experience local living.

Day 6
Tamdy river valley - Ulytau village

Today you’ll check out the Bronze Age petroglyphs in the nearby Tamdy river valley before journeying back to Ulytau village for dinner and another overnight stay in your comfortable guesthouse.

Day 7
Ulytau - Baskamyr - Zhekazgan - Almaty

Leaving Ulytau, you will travel to the medieval settlement of Baskamyr, checking out monuments and a local archaeological dig. Afterward, continue on to Zhezdy village to visit a historical museum of mining and smelting before reaching Zhezkazgan, where you will enjoy lunch and then catch a flight to Almaty to stay overnight.

Day 8

Welcome to Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. Spend the morning exploring the city before heading up to the famous Medeo ice skating rink, located nearly a mile in elevation. For an even better view and great hiking options, head up the lifts of the local ski resort to an elevation of nearly two miles. Spend the evening and night in the city, and rest up for your coming adventure.

Day 9
Turgen Gorge

Today, you will begin your four-day trek into the Tien Shan mountains in the southeast corner of Kazakhstan. On this first day, you will set up camp in the Turgen gorge, located 43 miles from Almaty, and have the chance to explore your spectacular surroundings.

Day 10
Turgen Gorge

From your basecamp in the Turgen Gorge, board a 4WD to explore the Assy Plateau – grassy highlands where nomads often set up camp in the summer months. In the evening, return to your camp for a second night.

Day 11
Kolsai Lakes

This morning, you will leave the Turgen Gorge and head to the first Kolsai Lake, located at an elevation of 1.1 miles. Spend your day hiking or horseback riding around the lake, and enjoy an overnight stay in a homestay in the nearby village of Saty.

Day 12
Charyn Canyon - Almaty

On your way back to Almaty today, pass through the Charyn Canyon, a stunning 124-mile-long canyon in the Almaty Province. Afterward, visit a local museum on the Kazakh art of eagle hunting (called “Berkutchi”) before arriving back in the city (a 4-hour drive) and staying overnight in your hotel.

Day 13

Spend your final day in Kazakhstan exploring the rest of Almaty, checking out any local shops, restaurants and hiking trails that you may have missed during your previous days in the city. Rest up ahead of your departure on your final night in Kazakhstan tonight.

Day 14

Say your goodbyes to Kazakhstan, as you check out of your hotel in Almaty and are transferred to the international airport to head home or onto your next destination.


Suggested Accommodations

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.  

Ritz-Carlton Almaty, The InterContinental 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. 


The InterContinental Almaty

The InterContinental in Almaty is a luxury hotel sitting opposite the famous Presidential Palace in Republic Square. It’s the perfect location to see this popular attraction, as well as the city’s many others in this central area. The InterContinental’s rooms are big, bright and fresh with a whole list of facilities and services right on hand. The dining options are impressive too, with an excellent international breakfast buffet, Asian café, rooftop grill, Turkish restaurant and jazz bar. In the evening guests can enjoy relaxing in one of three bars, including a jazz bar and beer garden with light music and boardgames to wind down summer evenings. Elsewhere there is an indoor pool, children’s play area and tennis courts.

Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
On his visits to Kazakhstan, Jay is consistently struck by its wild nomadic traditions and its spectacular, thrusting new architecture.
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