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Epic Kazakhstan: Astana to Almaty via the Aral Sea

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 $11,300 PER PERSON
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DURATION

17 days | 16 nights

DESTINATIONS

Kazakhstan

INTERESTS

Off The Grid

TYPE

Intrepid

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore an old labor prison outside of the capital city of Astana
  • Pick up scraps of metal from old shipwrecks in the former port of the Aralsk
  • Visit the famous Mausoleum of Hodzha Ahmed Yasswi in Turkestan T
  • our Altyn Emel national park on a 4WD, spotting wild donkeys and gazelles

DETAILED DECRIPTION

Get ready for the journey of a lifetime: from the capital city of Astana to the Aral Sea, from old Silk Road stopovers to the Aksu-Jabagly natural reserves, this trip takes voyagers through the best that Kazakhstan has to offer. You will explore major cities, small villages and natural landscapes, even spending several days exploring on a four-wheel drive adventure. For culture, for history, for nature and for adventure, this wide-ranging trip has it all, and more.

DAY-TO-DAY

DAY 1: Astana

Your exciting adventure begins today as you leave your home country to arrive in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, at night. You’ll be escorted to your hotel, where you may settle in and relax ahead of your big adventure ahead.

DAY 2: Astana

After getting some much-needed sleep, you will explore the city highlights, including the landmark Baiterek Tower and the pyramid-shaped Khan-Shatyr shopping and entertainment center, before heading outside of town to visit an old labor prison. You will return to Astana for the evening to relax and enjoy a restful sleep.

DAY 3: Aralsk

Today, you will begin your journey towards the Aral Sea, taking a plane and train toward the former port of Aralsk, now 124 miles from the shore. Arriving very late in the evening, you will be transferred to a local homestay for the night.

DAY 4: Aralsk

Spend the day exploring the former port of the Aral Sea, checking out the remains of stranded ships and visiting the local museum, learning about the area’s fascinating history. You will once again stay overnight with a local family.

DAY 5: Train

Enjoy some more time exploring Aralsk at your leisure - checking out any attractions you may have missed in the days before - before boarding an overnight train for Turkestan, located nearly 500 miles to the east.

DAY 6: Turkestan

After travelling overnight from Aralsk, you will arrive in Turkestan in the afternoon with enough time to explore the historic city before dinner. One of Kazakhstan’s oldest cities, Turkestan dates back as far as the 4th century AD.

DAY 7: Tjulkabas

Today, you will have the chance to visit the famous Mausoleum of Hodzha Ahmed Yasswi, built in the late 14th century in memory of the prophet Hodzha Yassawi. In the afternoon, you will explore the ruins of Otrar, once a stop of the Silk Road, before boarding a train for the village of Tjulkabas - about 124 miles east – where you will stay overnight in a guesthouse.

DAY 8: Aksu-zhabagly Nature Reserve

Today, you’ll head back to the Aksu-Jabagly natural reserve, visiting the Aksu canyon, carved by the Aksu river. Once again, enjoy a picturesque picnic lunch during your day-long excursion, and stay overnight at your guesthouse.

DAY 9: Train

This morning, you’ll board a train to the city of Taraz, located in the Jambyl Province. After getting settled in, you’ll embark on a city tour, checking out the history museum and the mausoleums of Alye Ata and Aisha Bibi and learning about the city’s history as a stop on the Silk Road. In the evening, you will catch a sleeper train to Almaty, 435 miles east.

DAY 10: Almaty

After arriving by morning in Kazakhstan’s largest city, you will be transferred to your hotel where you will have time to rest and refresh. After lunch, you’ll step into the city’s bustling streets, visiting the Panfilov park, the Zenkov Cathedral and the musical instrument museum.

DAY 11: Altyn Emel

Get ready to kick back into nature! Today is the first of several days you will explore the Almaty Province in a four-wheel drive vehicle. Your adventure will begin in the Kapachagai reservoir and Altyn Emel national park (around 4 hours' drive), where you will spot wild donkeys and gazelles in the semi-desert and rocky mountain landscapes, before settling in at a guesthouse for dinner and overnight.

DAY 12: Basshi

Today, you will explore the red-hued Aktau and Kakatau mountain ranges, hiking through the spectacular landscape as you take in truly epic panoramas, before spending the night in a guesthouse in the village of Basshi.

DAY 13: Saty

You will embark on a journey from Basshi to the border of Kyrgyzstan (around 5 hours), passing by semi-nomadic tribes before reaching the first of three Kolsai mountain lakes. Elevated more than seven miles in altitude, this area is ideally-positioned to offer excellent views and trails for hiking and horse riding. Enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in a homestay in the village of Saty.

DAY 14: Almaty

Beginning your journey back to Almaty: you will visit Charyn Canyon, a spectacular 124-mile-long natural canyon, as well as a museum about hunting with eagles, known as “berkutchi.” You will arrive back in Almaty some 4 hours later to stay overnight in your hotel.

DAY 15: Almaty

Take a day trip just south of the city to the Medeo ice-skating rink, a world-famous complex situated over one mile in elevation. For even better views and hiking trails, you can go higher to the Chymbulaq ski resort (1.4 miles high) or even the top of the mountain, at nearly two miles high.

DAY 16: Almaty

Enjoy a free day exploring Almaty, checking out shops, local museums and nearby hikes. You will once again stay overnight at your hotel, resting up on your last night in Kazakhstan ahead of your onward journey tomorrow.

DAY 17: Departure

After your exciting two-and-a-half week journey through Kazakhstan, it is time to say goodbye. You’ll check out of your hotel and be escorted to their airport, or where you’ll either return home, or continue on to your next Central Asian destination.

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