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Best of Kazakhstan

zulyanear-mountains-kazakhstan

The 9th largest country in the world, Kazakhstan is as varied as its landscapes. It offers travelers an ancient nomadic culture, modern cities, and a range of terrain that remain fabulously less traveled. Regular flights from several European and Asian hubs will take you to the former capital city of Almaty and the new purpose-built capital of Nur-Sultan. One of the safest countries in the world to travel, it's always a pleasure to visit this part of the world and find yourself an honored guest everywhere. The city of Almaty, nestled by the Alatau Mountains is the legendary home of the apple! Its green parks, leafy streets, and modern cafe culture make it a great first stop in Kazakhstan. Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) and Bishkek round out the urban itinerary.

Top reasons to travel to Kazakhstan

  • Go from mountain tops to desert dunes all in one day. The landscapes here unfold like a Kazakh carpet over snowy peaks, dusty deserts and verdant pasture lands.
  • Touch space - visit the Baikonur cosmodrome in the desert steppe, watch a rocket launch, tour the Buran Space Shuttle and see cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's house
  • Add 3 UNESCO Sites to your world culture list: the Akhmed Yassawi complex, Tamgaly petroglyphs, and the Aksu-Jabagly National Reserve
  • Top 3 Museums: National Museum at Nur-Sultan, Museum of National Instruments in Almaty, the Space Museum at Baikonur
  • Bazaars, markets, artisan workshops and art galleries to please everyone

Shop:

  • At the Green Bazaar you can find a dizzying array of produce - the best place to try the famous Aport apple. Bargain for those fabulous felt slippers here, too.
  • At the Qazaq-Oner Craft Center, shop the local handicrafts and try your hand at feltmaking, jewelry, pottery and leatherwork. Silver jewelry is a specialty in Kazakhstan, worked in traditional patterns and often inlaid with semi-precious stones.
  • Other favorite souvenirs from Kazakhstan include dombras - traditional long necked lutes, and wool and felt items from scarves, to hats, shawls and jackets to table linens and home decor items.

Eat:

  • Almaty: The Abay restaurant at Kok-Tobe hill offers panoramic views of the city and mountains
  • Nur-Sultan: Eternal Sky on the 25th floor has unparalleled views of this new capital and Qazaq Gourmet: luxury western style menu in an updated traditional decor

Stay:

  • St Regis, Nur-Sultan. On the banks of the Ishim River in the heart of the new capital
  • Ritz Carlton, Almaty. Rooms with panoramic views of the surrounding Alatau mountains
  • Rixos Water World, Aktau. Opened in 2020, this all inclusive resort offers the best of the legendary Caspian Sea
  • Oi-Qaragay Mountain Resort is less than an hour from Almaty. Experience a night under the stars at this traditional yurt complex (with en suite) or their tree-house. Restaurants here offer Kazakh, Georgian or western dining

Adventure

Lakeside, alpine or everything in between - the choice is yours for outdoor adventure and unparalleled photography

  • Kaindy Lake is 300 km from Almaty and 2000m above sea level. Formed after a massive landslide triggered by the 1011 Kemin earthquake created a natural dam, submerged trees still rise above the surface.
  • Big Almaty Lake is only an hour from Almaty, its blue-green waters a natural alpine reservoir in the Ili-Alatau National Park for the city of Almaty.
  • Rising above Big Almaty Lake is Big Almaty Peak. This pyramid-shaped peak is visible from everywhere in the city and easily accessible for a day trip. From the Ahusaly-Kezen pass at 3375m, it's an easy hike up to the top at 3681m and the fabulous panoramas of the city to the north and the snow covered mountains to the south.
  • Shymbulak peak is not only a fantastic hike, but also a ski resort in winter, which offers easy gondolas and a mountain cafe on the way up! Take the time to see local hunters display traditional falconry techniques.
  • In the far southeast, the Charyn Canyon Gorge in Charyn National Park is one of the top ranked destinations in Kazakhstan. Centuries of erosion have sculpted the canyon walls into deep fissures, caves, grottoes and shady niches with the Charyn River winding peacefully below.
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