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The Ultimate Kazakhstan Adventure

Explore all sides of Kazakhstan during the epic 18-day tour through the country's most iconic and fascinating sites. From the modern Medeo skating rink to the ancient city of Sauran, the majestic Charyn Canyon to a mausoleum and Muslim shrine, this itinerary brings you to all the hotspots of Kazakhstan, allowing you to spend time living in local guesthouses to soak up Kazakh culture while discovering the natural beauty around you.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Enjoy dinner at the top of Kok-Tobe mountain, overlooking Almaty Trek and horseback ride around the spectacular Kolsay Lakes
  • Discover the deserted mountains of Katutau and the multi-coloured mountains of Aktau in Altyn-Emel National Park
  • Explore an underground mosque in an architectural complex in Turkestan
 
Starting at
$480
per person per day
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Day by Day Itinerary

View Kazakhstan Encompassed in a larger map
Day 1

Your adventure in Kazakhstan begins in Almaty, the capital city. After you settle in at your hotel, embark on a walking tour, checking out a commemorative park and the city's Central Mosque, before heading into the mountains to the famous Medeo skating rink. Enjoy lunch before returning to the city to visit the Central Historical Museum and a falcon show. Finally, head up Kok-Tobe mountain for dinner with a view of the city.

Day 2
Tamgaly-Tas

Head 105 miles (2.5 hours) out of the city to check out the ancient petroglyphs of Tamgaly Tas, many of which are symbols of Buddha. Enjoy lunch in Ili river, then head back to Almaty where you’ll have dinner in an Indian restaurant and an optional excursion to a nightclub.

Day 3
Kolsay Lake

Today you’ll travel over 5 hours to Kolsay Lake, making a stop at Nura village to check out the sites and see falcons and special hunting dogs. After arriving at Kolsay, you’ll settle into your guesthouse before enjoying dinner.

Day 4
Kolsay Lake

Explore two of the spectacular Kolsay Lakes by trekking, walking the trails or even horseback riding. After a day outside, enjoy dinner and then an overnight stay either in a local guesthouse (without facilities) or a local hotel (with facilities).

Day 5
Kaindy Lake - Charyn Canyon

Spend the morning exploring the nearby Kaindy Lake before driving to Charyn Canyon - considered the largest canyon in the world after the famous American Grand Canyon - about 125 miles away. Enjoy the afternoon exploring the canyon before dinner and an overnight stay in a guesthouse.

Day 6
Altyn-Emel

Today, you'll head to the Altyn-Emel National Park, where you'll discover the deserted mountains of Katutau and the multi-coloured mountains of Aktau. After spending the day exploring these spectacular sites, you'll return to your guesthouse at Charyn Canyon for the night.

Day 7
Altyn-Emel - Almaty

Head back to Altyn-Emel National Park for another adventure, this time checking out the “Singing Dunes.” In the afternoon, you’ll return to Almaty (around 3 hours) to catch an overnight train to Taraz, a city in the Jambyl Province.

Day 8
Taraz - Akyrtas - Berikara Gorge

You will arrive in Taraz very early in the morning and head straight to your hotel to rest. Later on, after breakfast, you will meet with a local archaeologist to begin your tour of Taraz City, from the Regional Museum to the mausoleums and the catacombs. After lunch, you’ll explore Akyrtobe – local ruins of ancient stone settlements – and then head 50 miles to the Berikara Gorge, located in the mountains, where you’ll enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in a guesthouse.

Day 9
Berikara Gorge - Shymkent

Spend the day exploring the Berikara Gorge, from its diverse flora and fauna to its hundreds of ancient mounds. Enjoy hiking, horse riding or fishing in the wildlife preserve before heading to Shymkent (around 2 hours away), where you will spend the night.

Day 10
Shymkent

From your base in Shymkent, the capital of the South Kazakhstan Province, head less than 25 miles to Kazygurt Mount, the place where - legend has it – Noah’s Ark was stopped and is still visible today. Enjoy a trek to the Zhylak ata waterfall before heading further out of town to observe shamans performing unique rituals. Return to Shymkent for dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 11
Shymkent - Aksu Canyon

Today, you’ll head to the Aksu Canyon, visiting Saira City – an old stop on the Great Silk Road – and several mausoleums along the way. At the canyon, discover the “Valley of a Thousand Eyes” – a wall stone with caves resembling eyes – as well as the Aksu river and the “Black Hole.” Enjoy lunch and dinner at the canyon before heading back to Shymkent for the night.

Day 12
Shymkent-Turkestan

On your way to Turkestan (around 3 hours), you’ll stop at a museum in Shaulder village, the ruins of Otrar and the Mausoleum of Arystan-bab, a major Muslim shrine in Central Asia. After arriving in Turkestan and settling in at your hotel, you’ll take an excursion of less than 25 miles to see the ancient city of Sauran before returning for dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 13
Turkestan

Explore an architectural complex in Turkestan, which includes an underground mosque, a bath and a history museum, before catching the overnight train to Aralsk.

Day 14
Aralsk

Welcome to Aralsk, a former seaport. After arriving and settling into your guesthouse, you’ll discover the history of this unique city, from a tour of a ship graveyard to a salty desert where you may even be able to ride a camel. Take in a dombra show and swim in the Aral sea before returning to Aralsk for the night.

Day 15
Aralsk

Discover two World Bank project sites – the Kokaral dam and the Aklak spillway on the Syrdarya river – where you’ll learn about the projects and watch they are doing for the natural environment. Later, head back to Aralsk for dinner before a late-night transfer (around 5 hours) to Kzyl Orda.

Day 16
Kzyl Orda - Astana

After arriving in Kzyl Orda, you’ll head to the airport for a flight to Astana, the largest city in Kazakhstan, where you’ll enjoy dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 17
Astana

On the last full day of your tour, you’ll get to explore Astana, the largest city in Kazakhstan. Starting with a city tour, you’ll see the Museum of the First President, a central mosque and synagogue and a large entertainment complex while also taking an excursion to a local outdoor museum, “Map of Kazakhstan-Atameken.” In the evening, enjoy dinner and a view from the rotating restaurant on the 23rd story of the Solaze hotel.

Day 18
Departure

Today you bid Kazakhstan adieu, as you check out of your hotel. You will be transferred to the Astana airport to catch your flight home or the connection to your next exciting destination.

 

Suggested Accommodations

Location
Accommodation
ALMATY
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.

 
 
TARAZ
Alnur Hotel

Alnur Hotel


The Alnur Hotel is a modern, European-style hotel in the heart of Taraz, Kazakhstan. The hotel features a range of different double and twin bedroom options, and all rooms available come with hot water, heating, private bathrooms and comfortable beds. Each room also comes with its own telephone, refrigerator, cable TV, shower and air-conditioner. The hotel is well-placed in the southern Kazakhstan city of Taraz, which is one of the oldest cities in the country and once played an important role in the ancient silk route that encompassed the region. Guests staying at this hotel can walk to nearby attractions and take advantage of local restaurants, cafes and bars that surround the area.


 
 
SHYMKENT
Orbita, Rixos

Orbita


This boutique hotel in Shymkent, Kazakhstan is the perfect base from which to explore this vibrant city in the south of the country. With its world-class service and intricate design, Orbita Hotel is setting the standard for hotels in Shymkent. Located inside a historic two-storey house built by Japanese prisoners-of-war in the 1950s, the hotel combines Kazakhstan flair with traditional Japanese design, including the counter-clockwise numbering of the hotel’s seven rooms, each uniquely decorated. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar, the quiet location, just outside of the busting city, and most importantly, the top-quality service. 


 

Rixos


For class, style, and a dash of opulence, the Rixos Khadisha Hotel is the perfect luxury-home-away-from-home in Shymkent. This world-class hotel, located in the business district of the city, features a grand staircase, a spacious entry, and a full-featured spa, including an indoor pool and fitness area, a sauna, and a Turkish hammam - the perfect way to relax after a busy day. Dining options abound: Kazakhasia restaurant, which serves a variety of Asian cuisine; Olivia restaurant, offering traditional Italian; a cocktail at one of the on-site bars; or room service delivered straight to the guest’s luxurious room or suite. At this hotel, guests should prepare to be treated like royalty. 


 
 
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.
 
 
ARAL SEA
Aral Hotel

Aral Hotel


Aral Hotel is the only hotel in Aralsk, (also known as just ‘Arul’), a small Kazakhstan city located in the south-west of the country. Being the city’s sole hotel, guests shouldn’t come expecting five-star luxury. However, what Aral Hotel lacks in style and sophistication, it does make up for in charm, with friendly staff, and enough facilities to make for a comfortable night’s stay. Rooms have large, comfy beds and come with room heating controls and private bathrooms. The hotel is located near the main Aral airport and is a short drive away from the picturesque North Aral Sea in Kazakhstan.


 
 
BAIKONUR
Hotel Kyzylorda

Hotel Kyzylorda


In the heart of Kyzylorda’s city center lies Hotel Kyzylorda, a large, newly-renovated tourist hotel just steps away from the city’s shops, restaurants, and attractions. The hotel features nearly 70 guest rooms ranging from single to four-person, each with air conditioning, televisions, and direct-dial telephones. Guests can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant, which features Kazakhs, Turkish, and Russian cuisine, and take advantage of the hotel’s beauty salon, laundry service, and business center. Airport pick-up is also available upon request. 


 
 
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.  


 
 
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On his visits to Kazakhstan, Jay is consistently struck by its wild nomadic traditions and its spectacular, thrusting new architecture.
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