Our party preferred a French-speaking local guide and you found someone who was both knowledgeable and helpful. We would recommend her to anyone with the same needs.
Baikonur is a city in the southwest region of Kazakhstan, sitting on the right bank of the mighty Syr Darya River in the midst of the vast Kazakh steppe. Originally named Leninsk, it was built to house the workers servicing the Baikonur Cosmodrome on which it relies entirely for its economic stability. Baikonur is a city of political and geographical note as it is rented from Kazakhstan by the Russian government.
The original Kazakh mining town called Baikonur lies a few hundred miles north; the new city was named Baikonur to maintain the secrecy of the Cosmodrome. Built by the Soviet Government in 1950s, this was the first space launch facility in the world and remain the largest to date. One of the most expensive projects the Soviet Union took on, the Russian Federal Space Agency will share the lease of the facility with the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces until 2050. The city and the Cosmodrome were used as the location and set for the 2011 movie, Baikonur.
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On his visits to Kazakhstan, Jay is consistently struck by its wild nomadic traditions and its spectacular, thrusting new architecture.
The largest space launch facility in the world, the Cosmodrome is a busy hub and many commercial, military and scientific missions are launched every year. The launch pad ‘Gagarin’s Start’ is famously the site from which Vostok 1 and Sputnik 1 were launched.
The Cosmodrome’s small and fascinating museum is located on-site. It includes two well-preserved cottages that were once home to Sergey Korolev and Yuri Gagarin. Hugely popular with space enthusiasts, the museum features a number of aerospace artefacts.
Baikonur’s on-site railway within the cosmodrome is the largest industrial railway of its kind in the world. It connects every part of the launch sites and also joins with Kazakhstan’s public railway at Tyuratam, a main station on the line between Moscow and Tashkent that predates the Baikonur site.
Fourteen days, two countries, eight cities and one rocket launch: there are not many journeys that you’ll make quite like this one. Over the course of two weeks, you’ll be treated to all the important historic sites of Uzbekistan and its ancient Silk Road cities, as well as witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event – the “Soyuz” rocket being launched into space from the cosmodrome in Baikonur.
For two-and-a-half weeks in Kazakhstan, visit modern and ancient cities, local museums and sites of ancient petroglyphs, canyons and gorges, deserts and wildlife preserves. From the capital city of Almaty to the largest city of Astana, this tour is truly The Ultimate Kazakhstan Adventure!
Hotel Tsentralnaya is one of the few places to stay in Baikonur, the Kazakhstan (but Russian controlled) region so famous for its Cosmodrome. Whilst this hotel is rather small and basic, the rooms and facilities are adequate for a one or two night stay, with private bathrooms, heating controls and comfy beds. There are various services inside the hotel, although most guests staying at Hotel Tsentralnaya head to a popular nearby restaurant that serves local, Russian and Western food for the tour groups that frequent Baikonur for its fascinating and well-documented Cosmodrome and launch site. Breakfast is also served here in the morning and transportation is provided to the restaurant.
The aptly named Sputnik Hotel is located in the heart of Baikonur, a region famous for being home to Cosmodrome and Russian-controlled rocket launch pad-site. As well as being located close to the region’s main attraction, this four-star hotel also boasts a large swimming pool, a health club, conference rooms, and 120 well-appointed guestrooms, making this one of the largest accommodation options of its type in Baikonur. Each room is well-equipped with modern conveniences including Wi-Fi, private bathrooms, televisions, heating controls and refrigerators. There is also an on-site restaurant and bar at the hotel, meaning that guests don’t have to venture outside for food and drinks late at night.