The largest landlocked country and the ninth-largest country in the world, Kazakhstan is a nation of great geographical and cultural variety. From the winter sport oasis of Almaty, the country’s largest city situated at the base of the Tien Shan Mountains, to the beaches and spas of the Caspian coast, Kazakhstan provides visitors with an endless number of treks and hikes, particularly in natural areas such as the Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve.
With such a rich and intricate history, including influences from many different tribes and people, Kazakhstan offers a wealth of sites worth visiting, from underground mosques to a petroglyph site famous for its rock carvings of the Buddha. Nature lovers will adore the treks around Issyk Lake and Big Almaty Lake, and for those looking for a unique experience, strap on your skates at Medeo ice rink, the highest ice skating rink in the world.
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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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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.
Hyatt Regency Almaty
Lying between the Alatau Mountains and the surrounding plains, the Hyatt Regency Almaty is a five-star hotel boasting some excellent facilities and even better views. As soon as you step inside the impressive lobby and are greeted by the friendly staff, the reasons become clear as to why this is one of the most popular hotels in town. The 285 elegant and well thought out rooms and suites include all the modern conveniences expected with a luxury hotel, such as air conditioning, mini-bar, high-speed Wi-Fi broadband and a satellite TV. Guests also have the choice of two fine restaurants. The Grill serves up mouth-watering steaks while the other, Dzhambul Restaurant, has a wide variety of local and international flavors on its menu. There’s also a beer garden out back – a great spot for sinking a few cool ones on a warm summer’s day.
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.
Being such a large country, Kazakhstan has several different climate zones: it is very dry in the central desert landscape, whereas the mountain range in the southeast receives a lot of rain year round. In general, however, Kazakhstan has a continental climate, meaning it experiences very hot summers from June to August, with temperatures reaching 96°F, and freezing cold winters from December to February, with temperatures hitting as low as -10°F. The best times of year to visit are May and June and between September and November when the temperatures are more moderate - though for visitors looking to hit the slopes, March is an ideal time.