Kazakhstan is a country in flux, where long-held traditions are still valued alongside modern practices. The historic, Soviet, and modern cities exhibit a broad range of architectural styles and cultural influences. Kazakhstan’s abundant oil and mineral reserves have financed bold urban landscapes with buildings by world-famous architects, but even as the skylines change day by day, Kazakhstan has not lost sight of its nomadic roots. Visitors are still assured the warm welcome which has characterized the nation’s attitude to guests for centuries.

Kalpak Travel’s “Best of Kazakhstan” tour takes you around the country in one week – from Soviet Almaty via Turkistan and the ancient capital of Otrar, to the eclectic modern capital, Nur-Sultan. In addition to dramatic landscapes and the attractions of the great Silk Road, you will experience nomadic culture first-hand at the Huns ethno-village, meet Kazakhstan’s master craftsmen, and enjoy spectacular mountain views at Lake Issyk. You will stay in 4* hotels throughout the tour, and transfer between cities on convenient domestic flights.

Book With Confidence

We fully appreciate that we all need to be flexible in the world of travel right now. You can book with us with complete confidence that you have the flexibility to change your plans if needed.

All bookings made this year can be changed or postponed free of charge. If you cancel your trip up to 16 days before the departure, we will hold your deposit as a credit towards an alternative trip in the future with Kalpak Travel.

Good to know

  • Discover Kazakhstan's unique historical and natural heritage
  • Fully escorted multi-lingual guide
  • Small groups (max 12)
  • Flexible rebookings: change dates at no cost

What's included

  • Included Guided excursions
  • Included Ground transfers
  • Included Internal flights
  • Included Some meals
  • Included Accommodation
Days

8

Starting from

€2,160 pp

Contact us now for more information about this trip
Speak to Luca for expert travel advice
Talk to us
Destinations
Kazakhstan
Activity
Active, Walking, Culture, Cities, Museums & Galleries, History, Solo Travel
Tour Type
Small group tour

Detailed itinerary

What you'll see and do

Arrival in Almaty and City Tour

Welcome to Kazakhstan! Most flights arrive early in the morning. You will transfer to the hotel for immediate check-in. Have a rest after your long flight and then enjoy breakfast. You’ll meet your fellow travelers and your guide in the hotel lobby at noon to go for lunch, followed by a relaxed half-day city tour of Almaty.

Almaty was the Kazakh capital until 1997 and it is still the largest city in Kazakhstan. Its name translates as “the place of apples” as it is believed that this is the place where apples first grew. Almaty is a charming and green city, with wide, tree-lined roads. The Zailisky Ala-Too Mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the city.

Today you will visit Panfilov Park, which is named after World War II General Panfilov. An impressive monument has been erected in the center of the park in honor of Panfilov’s division. Almaty’s most famous sight, the wooden Zenkov Cathedral built in 1904, is situated in Panfilov Park as well.

At Green Bazaar, you will have the chance to experience local Kazakh culture as you shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. After the market, you will take the cable car to Kok Tobe, a hilltop overlooking the city which offers panoramic views.

Overnight in the Kazzhol Park (4*) or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Almaty and Shymbulak

You will meet your guide in the hotel lobby after breakfast and then head to the studio of a local artisan. Here you will learn about ancient nomadic ornaments and make your own little piece of a Kazakh national quilt.

After this masterclass, you will take a cable car to reach one of the main landmarks of Almaty, the Shymbulak ski resort, where you will enjoy wonderful views of the Ili Alatau Mountains. On the way to the ski resort you will pass the legendary Medeo skating rink. It is located in the picturesque Medeo Gorge at an altitude of 1,600 m and it is one of the largest and highest ice rinks in the world. You will have lunch here on the summer terrace of a Kazakh restaurant at an altitude of 2,260 m.

After lunch you will take another cable car and continue to the top of the ski resort (3,200 m). It will be a bit cold and windy, so make sure you bring a warm jacket. After taking in more mountain views, you will drive back into the city for a walk along shady Terrenkur, a delightful path along the Little Almatinka. It is one of the most popular places for locals, where Almaty’s residents come to exercise or simply enjoy a stroll.

Overnight in the Kazzhol Park (4*) or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Huns Village and Lake Issyk

Breakfast will be at the hotel. Today you will immerse yourself in Kazakh culture, learning about traditions and rituals in the Huns ethno-village, about one hour's drive from Almaty.

On arrival you’ll be welcomed by hostesses greeting you with a national ritual called Shashu. It involves showering guests with sweets, as Kazakhs do during wedding ceremonies. The sweets must be picked up and kept, as Kazakhs believe they will bring good luck in the future.

At Huns you will learn how to bake puffy Kazakh bread, see the construction of a Kazakh yurt, and be a spectator at performance of national horse games. The games include Jigitovka (horseback riding with acrobatic elements), Atpen audaryspak (jostling and pushing a rival whilst on horseback) and Kyz kuu, where a boy chases a girl on horseback. If he catches her he will be rewarded with a kiss; but if he fails, she can lash him! After the show you will have a delicious lunch of national cuisine.

In the afternoon, you will drive a bit further to Issyk, a postcard-perfect mountain lake at an altitude of 1,756 m above sea level, which is located within a gorge of the same name. Lying along the Kuldja tract, where hundreds of years ago merchants’ caravans passed through, the gorge is atmospheric and visually striking. You will then drive back to Almaty in time for dinner.

Overnight in the Kazzhol Park (4*) or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Almaty – Turkistan (flight); Otrar and Arystanbab

After having breakfast and checking-out from the hotel, you will drive to the airport to catch the flight to Turkestan at 09:30. The flight takes around 1.5 hours.

Turkistan is the Spiritual Capital of the Turkic World and has long been a place of pilgrimage. You will have lunch on arrival and then drive through the scenery of South Kazakhstan to Otrar, also known as Farab, which was one of the biggest cities on the Silk Road. Located at the junction of many caravan routes, Otrar, was a significant center of culture and trade. Its history dates back 2,000 years, and the surviving ruins include a fortress and remains of a once densely populated town.
After Otrar you will visit the Mausoleum of Arystanbab. He was the spiritual teacher of Khodja Ahmed Yassavi, whose mausoleum you will visit on Day 5.

In the early evening you will return to Turkistan. The city has undergone major changes during the last couple of years, and it has become the center of tourism in Southern Kazakhstan. You will have time to walk around the newest Karavan-Saray complex and watch a multimedia show to finish a long but interesting day.
Overnight in the Hampton by Hilton (4*) or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Turkistan

After breakfast you will have a full day of sightseeing at the Azret-Sultan Museum Reserve, which surrounds the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. You will begin by visiting the necropolis, a fragment of the fortress wall, the citadel and gates, the hammam, and the Hilvet underground mosque.

Turkistan was founded around 500 AD at the crossroads of caravan routes from Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. The city was the spiritual and political center of Turkic-speaking peoples fron the 16th to 18th centuries, and it was also the capital of the Kazakh Khanate. Turkistan gained its international reputation thanks to the preaching of the famous Sufi sheikh and philosopher Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, who was buried in a small mausoleum here in 1166. The current mausoleum was erected 233 years after the saint's death, on the orders of Emperor Timur (Tamerlane). It is a masterpiece of medieval architecture and remains a major place of worship for Central Asian Muslims.

After lunch you will finish your museum tour and you will have some free time until dinner.

Overnight in the Hampton by Hilton (4*) or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Turkistan – Nur-Sultan (Astana) flight

After early breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch the flight to Astana at 9:15 am. Upon arrival at 10:55 am, you will drive into the city center and have lunch.

Nur-Sultan (previously named Astana) is Central Asia’s youngest capital and a showpiece for 21st century Kazakhstan. Talented, well-known architects from all over the world have made major contributions to the surreal skyline of this futuristic city in the steppe.

Your city tour will start at Independence Square. You will visit the impressive new National Museum. It has a huge collection, but your guide will focus on the most interesting rooms, including those exhibiting the Scythian gold hoards and, most importantly, the Golden Man.

We will then visit Baiterek Tower in the very center of Astana. The tower has become the symbol of the city. Its shape represents a poplar tree, and on its top is a golden egg laid by a magic bird from Kazakh folk tales. From the top of the tower you can enjoy the best views of Astana and the surrounding steppe. You will then have a walk along Nurzhol Boulevard. This avenue was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, and most of Astana’s most exciting contemporary buildings are situated here. The walk will end at the Khan Shatyr, a giant, tent-like shopping center designed by architect Norman Foster.

Overnight in the Hilton Garden Inn (4*) or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Nur-Sultan City Tour

Today will be your last day in Kazakhstan. You will visit the futuristic Expo 2017 complex which boasts the biggest spherical building in the world, the Nur Alem Museum of the Energy. It was originally the Kazakh Pavilion. We will also visit the largest Mosque in Central Asia. Construction was only just finished a year ago. After this you will take a boat ride on the Ishim River, followed by a relaxed wander through Arbat, the artistic area of the capital.

Before our farewell dinner you will have some free time for shopping, to have a rest, or to further explore the city on your own.

Overnight in the Hilton Garden Inn (4*) or similar

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Departure Day

On the final morning, you will transfer to the airport at an appropriate time to catch your flight back home.

Included meals: Breakfast

  • Almaty

    Almaty

    The most populated city in Kazakhstan and former capital, Almaty is surrounded by mountains, with streets lined by trees and parks scattered across the city...
  • Almaty

    Almaty

    The most populated city in Kazakhstan and former capital, Almaty is surrounded by mountains, with streets lined by trees and parks scattered across the city...
  • Huns Village

    Huns Village

    ...
  • Turkestan

    Turkestan

    ...
  • Turkestan

    Turkestan

    ...
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...

Upcoming departures

Departing Returning      
More dates available     Enquire

Looking for a different date?

Not sure when you're travelling yet? Looking for a different date? Contact Kalpak Travel for more information.

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Good to know

Speak to a Kazakhstan specialist about this trip

Kalpak Travel

Call one of our travel experts for ideas and trip planning advice.

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Reviews

What people are saying about Kalpak Travel

P
Pat H
11/05/2022

We loved our tour of Uzbekistan! From the start of the process Luca was very helpful and provided lots of information, then when we had to reschedule twice because of the pandemic he moved the booking on and kept the price the same. As we got closer to actually going we had lots of questions which Luca answered very comprehensively. The organisation of the tour was excellent and our guide Umid was exceptional. Uzbekistan was a long time coming because of the pandemic but it fully lived up to our expectations and Kalpak was a big part of that. Would recommend highly.

L
Lydia D
19/10/2022

We booked an 8 day Best of Uzbekistan trip and added 3 nights so we could fly direct from the UK. Luca was absolutely brilliant with suggestions for places to go and sites to visit to make best use of the time, he arranged drivers, guides, meals and hotels and they were all excellent. We visited Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand, Shakrisabz and Tashkent, each very different from one another but all really interesting, welcoming and as photographers offered great shots. In Samarkand we had dinner in a local property and a plov cooking demonstration, great fun and as the lone vegetarian, I can put my hand on my heart and say I had an excellent meal!

D
Dirk W
12/10/2022

Nothing is ever too much for Luca to make sure your trip runs like clockwork. He prepares the itinerary meticulously and adjusts to your specific preferences. He will answer emails or whatsapp immediately, no matter the day or time (does the man ever sleep ?!). I covered Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in 33 days and saw the very best of Central Asia. Luca organized the complex logistics of this trip, with comfortable rides (cars, trains, planes) and local guides at every location. Luca and his team are not only super professional, they are also easy and friendly to work with. Simply could not be better ! There's only 1 option when you visit "The Stans" : talk to KALPAK.

W
Wally C
08/11/2022

My trip with Kalpak to Central was phenomenal. It far exceeded my expectations. Everything was top quality including the accommodations, food, sights, itinerary and outstanding guides in each country. It was an excellent quality tour for the money. Great quality value. I would highly recommend the trip to anyone considering going. Central Asia is the best kept secret that one doesn’t hear much about.

S
Sten-Enok, Norway
01/11/2018

I got a tip to visit the webpage for Kalpak and have not regretted since. They arrange trips to Central Asia and do it really well. They are professional, respond to inquiries instantly, are very flexible and know the region well. I was in contact with Luca for a combination of mountain biking and trekking in the Fann mountains in Tajikistan. My experience is solely positive; truly professional and passionate about the region.

Mind you, Kalpak uses local resources and is responsible tourism. I really recommend Kalpak Travel! They make astonishing trips to Central Asia and are professional, serious and responsible.

S
Spencer, Australia
01/07/2018

We had a fabulous 13-day tour of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - in May/June. Luca, the owner of Kalpak Travel, has been very reliable and committed to giving excellent service. He was constantly keeping in touch during our trip to ensure that everything was running smoothly.

The guides in each city spoke excellent English and were extremely informative on all aspects of Central Asia. In Almaty, we were invited to have dinner at our tour guide's home. The food was fabulous and we had a wonderful evening….

We were very lucky to have Kalpak Travel as our tour company which exceeded our expectations with flying colours. We highly recommend Kalpak Travel if you are planning a hassle-free tour of Central Asia.

R
Rebecca, USA
01/07/2018

We had a wonderful 3.5 week trip through the 5 Stans. I feel like I've seen the highlights in case I don't get the opportunity to return, but I most certainly DO want to return and see more. These are the warmest and most welcoming people I have every encountered.

My regret is that Kalpak does not arrange trips for other parts of the world, as I truly enjoyed every minute of working with them, and would love to do so again. SUPERLATIVE service.

How to book

Contact us now for expert advice

Price guide

This itinerary would cost from €2,160 pp.

Pricing may vary by accommodation choice, group size and time of year.

What's included

Included Guided excursions

Expert, English speaking guide throughout the trip.

Included Ground transfers

All ground transfers included by train, minivan and jeep.

Included Internal flights

Internal flight included.

Included Some meals

Full board; 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners.

Included Accommodation

Eight nights in 4* equivalent hotels.

How to book

We aim to provide absolute peace of mind when booking with us. A €500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and you may cancel or re-book your dates up to 15 days prior to departure.

All group departures have a maximum group size of 12 guests. All departure dates are guaranteed.

You can also opt to book the whole itinerary as a private tour. We can arrange extra nights before or after the trip, and suggest private tour extensions.

We can advise and take care of any required visas. Citizens of most countries are eligible for an e-visa for Tajikistan, and a visa on arrival for Turkmenistan, with a letter of invitation pre-arranged by us. Other countries are visa-free for most nationalities. Contact us for advice.

We are happy to advise on your international flights, please contact us for more assistance.

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