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Ancient Kazakhstan: A Journey Back in Time from Almaty to Turkestan

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.

FROM $8,900 PER PERSON
(VIEW MORE DETAILS)

DURATION

12 days | 11 nights

COUNTRY

Kazakhstan

INTERESTS

Heritage,
Amazing Landscapes

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit the burial grounds where the Golden Man was found
  • Enjoy a Golden Eagle Show at a local falcon farm
  • Discover the “Singing Dunes” in Altyn-Emel National Park
  • Explore Akyrtobe, the ruins of an ancient stone settlement

DETAILED DECRIPTION

This incredible 11-day archaeological tour of Kazakhstan will open your eyes to an entire ancient world. From the moment you arrive in Almaty, you will be transported back in time with a trip to the burial grounds around Issyk Lake; from there, you will explore the Tamgaly petroglyph site, the Tukturmas catacombs and ancient city of Sairam, with a backdrop of mountains, waterfalls and sand dunes, of course. Prepare to be amazed by what you will find unearthing centuries of civilization, discovering the tales and treasures of ancient Kazakhstan. 

DAY-TO-DAY

DAY 1: Almaty

Today, your exciting adventure in Kazakhstan begins, as you arrive in Almaty, the country’s largest city, just before midnight. Transfer to your hotel for a late night snack before settling in for the night.

DAY 2:

Welcome to Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. Today, you will visit the Central Historical Museum before taking a trip to Issyk Lake, where you can explore archaeological monuments and the burial grounds where Golden Man was found. After lunch, you’ll travel to the Turgen River Gorge where you’ll be able to trek to a spectacular waterfall before heading back to Almaty for dinner and overnight.

DAY 3: Almaty

The third day of your journey kicks off with a visit to the UNESCO-designated Tamgaly petroglyph site, famous for its rock carvings of the Buddha. After lunch, you’ll head to the gorgeous nearby mountain lake, Big Almaty Lake, and then onto a falcon farm for the Golden Eagle Show. You’ll have dinner and spend the night in Almaty.

DAY 4:

Today, you’ll drive to Charyn National Park (around 4 hours) to explore the Charyn Canyon, the largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. Later, you’ll transfer to Chundja, where you can settle into your hotel and enjoy some time bathing in the local hot springs pools. Enjoy lunch in Kokpek village and dinner in your hotel.

DAY 5: Almaty

This morning you’ll embark on the 4-hour drive to the magnificent Altyn-Emel National Park to observe the stunning “Singing Dunes”, two large sand dunes located between Keesha and Ulken Kalkana's mountains. After lunch, you’ll transfer to Kapchagay, a picturesque city on the Ili River, via a 4-hour drive. Enjoy some time by the water before enjoying dinner back in Almaty.

DAY 6: Train

Today, you’ll head back to Altyn-Emel National Park for further exploration. Check out Terekty kurgan and the petroglyphs before you board a train for your overnight trip to Taraz, via Almaty.

DAY 7: Berikara Gorge

You’ll be up bright and early this morning for your arrival in Taraz - a city in the Jambyl Province - so you’ll have time to settle in and sleep in your hotel. After breakfast, you will meet with a local archaeologist to start your exciting day. You will visit the Regional Museum, several mausoleums, Tukturmas catacombs and a local market before returning to your hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, you will explore Akyrtobe - the ruins of an ancient stone settlement. Finally, you will transfer to Berikara Gorge, located in the mountains 50 miles from Taraz, for your overnight stay in a guest house.

DAY 8: Berikara Gorge

This day is all about exploration: visit the rock paintings in the Berikara Gorge, which depict ancient tribal life, explore ancient mounds and even have a horseback ride around the area, taking in the natural scenery. You will enjoy another night in your guest house.

DAY 9: Shymkent

Hit the road again and head to Shymkent (a 2-hour drive), where you’ll visit an underground mosque, a local pottery workshop and the South Kazakhstan Regional Historical Museum. After lunch in a local restaurant, you’ll transfer to Aksu canyon in Sairam Ugam National Park via the ancient city of Sairam, once a stop along the Great Silk Road, where you’ll be able to step out onto the Devil’s Bridge - if you’re brave enough! Enjoy dinner in your hotel in Shymkent.

DAY 10: Train

After an early breakfast, you’ll head out on the 3-hour drive to Turkestan - quite literally the city of Turks - to explore the ruins of Otrar. You will also check out the the Mausoleum of Arystan-bab of 12 centuries, a popular Muslim pilgrimage site, and the Khodja Ahmed Yassaui Mausoleum. After lunch in a local café, take time to explore the city - including its medieval bath houses and fragments of the citadel battlement - before you catch your overnight train back to Almaty.

DAY 11: Almaty

Enjoy your final full day in Kazakhstan at one of the most beautiful spots in Almaty - the Kok-Tobe mountain. The highest point of the city, the mountaintop will give you a spectacular panorama of the city and its surrounding mountains. Afterwards, enjoy a walk around the city, checking out the Kastayev State Arts Museum and the Monument of Independence. Finish off your trip with dinner and a show in Alasha restaurant.

DAY 12: Departure

It’s time to say goodbye to Kazakhstan as your exciting adventure comes to an end. This morning, you will depart Almaty, to head back home or onto the next stop on your exciting adventure.

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