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Kazakhstan is a country in the flux of change, where long-held traditions are still valued alongside modern practices. Here, historic, Soviet, and modern cities combine to create a timeless atmosphere. The country’s abundant oil and mineral reserves have financed bold urban landscapes with buildings by world-famous architects, yet Kazakhstan has not lost sight of its nomadic roots, assuring visitors of the warm welcome which has characterised this nation’s attitude to guests for centuries.

Beyond the urban settlements, Kazakhstan’s mighty landscapes will capture both your imagination and your heart. From vividly painted canyons to alpine lakes and juniper forests on mountain slopes, the diverse countryside offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. Every drive, walk, or plane ride is another opportunity to be awed by the scale and magnificence of Kazakhstan’s natural environments.

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

10

Starting from

€2,190 pp

Contact us now for more information about this trip
Speak to Luca for expert travel advice
Enquire now
Destinations
Kazakhstan
Activity
Culture, Cities, Museums & Galleries, History, Solo Travel
Tour Type
Small group tour, Private guided tour
Physical Level
Mild

Detailed itinerary

What you'll see and do

Nur-Sultan City Tour

Welcome to Central Asia and Kazakhstan! Most of the flights arrive early in the morning. Transfer to the hotel for immediate check-in. Have a rest after the long flight and then breakfast. Meet your fellow travelers and your guide in the hotel lobby at 1:00 pm to start the city tour.

Nur-Sultan (previously named Astana) is Central Asia’s youngest capital and a showpiece for 21st century Kazakhstan. Talented and well-known architects have made major contributions to the surreal skyline of this futuristic city in the steppe. We will start our city tour with a relaxed stroll along the main street of Nur-Sultan, Nurzhol Boulevard, which was designed by Kisho Kurokawa. From the Ak Orda Presidential Palace, we will continue to Baiterek Tower and then finish at the Khan Shatyr shopping mall, a giant, tent-like structure designed by Norman Foster. After this walk, we will have a welcome dinner in a traditional Kazakh restaurant.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Where you'll stay
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Hilton Garden Inn Astana

Hilton Garden Inn Astana

Fly to Aktau

After breakfast, today’s city tour will begin at the Independence Monument, where the guide will talk about Kazakhstan’s long journey to independence. Next, we will visit the National Museum to learn more about the country’s rich history. The biggest collection of Scythian gold is exhibited here, as well as displays about the heritage of the mysterious Scythian Empire. From the museum, we will continue to Kazakhstan’s main mosque, Hazret Sultan. After lunch, we will visit the futuristic Expo 2017 complex, which has the biggest spherical building in the world, the Nur-Alem Museum of the Future. Before its transformation into a museum, the building was the Kazakh Pavilion during the Expo.

In the late afternoon, we will transfer to the airport to catch the domestic Air Astana flight to Aktau, departing at 6:15 pm. Upon arrival in Aktau at 8:10 pm we will have dinner and then check-in at a comfortable hotel for a good night’s rest.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Off Roading in The Ustyurt Plateau

We will depart in the early morning departure from Aktau in 4WD cars (2-3 people per car). Our first stop is the Valley of Balls, where ferromanganese nodules are scattered across the plateau-like huge billiard balls. They were formed at the bottom of the sea, but as they were more resistant to weathering, they remained on the surface while other limestone and dolomites were eroded by water.

After walking in the valley, we will continue to Sherkala, the name of which translates as the Lion’s Castle. It’s a giant, impregnable mountain in the kingdom of the desert. We will visit the spectacular Airakty Shomanay Mountains, and then finish the long day in the fantastic Tuzbair Valley, a place of pure beauty with three striking colors: white (salt, clay), blue (sky), and brown (soil). We will spend the night in tents under the bright stars with hot tea and a freshly-made dinner.

Our second day of this offroad trip will start with a magical sunrise over the Tuzbair Valley (only if you like to get up early, of course!). We will have a leisurely breakfast and then drive to the dramatic Boszhira Valley, making photo-stops on the way at the most breath-taking viewpoints. Lunch will be served somewhere en route when you have built up an appetite for an open-air meal. We will reach Boszhira before sunset, which is the best time of day to capture beautiful photos. In the evening there will be another delicious dinner and a good night’s sleep under canvas and the starry sky.

After breakfast, you can climb up the hill for impressive views and a good stretch of your legs, or just relax for a while and admire the landscape. We will then drive to an amazing viewpoint nearby, looking out on an expansive desert of white clay which stretches for hundreds of kilometers and is punctuated by two sharp stone formations called the Boszhira Tusks. You can stand on the edge of this dangerously-high precipice regarding an other-worldly panorama. Afterward, we will drive back to Aktau city, seeing working oil-pumps near Zhana-Ozen and driving through the Karagie Depression (the lowest point in Central Asia, at an altitude of 132 meters below sea level) on the way. We will reach Atyrau in the late evening, where you can enjoy a well-deserved rest in your hotel room.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Explore Aktau

After breakfast, we will explore the city of Aktau, located on the shore of the Caspian Sea. We will drive through the city and have a walk on the modern promenade alongside the beach. In the early afternoon, we will take the domestic flight to Almaty (1:55 pm – 5:55 pm, a three-hour flight with one hour’s time difference). We will then transfer to the hotel in the city center and dine in a restaurant next to the hotel.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Where you'll stay
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Novotel Almaty

Novotel Almaty

Charyn Canyon and Kaindy Lake

There is a long and exciting day in front of you! After three hours of driving, we will arrive at Charyn Canyon. It is one of Kazakhstan’s most unique natural monuments. The canyon is about 12 million years old and its dramatic vertical cliffs are reminiscent of ancient castles, albeit ones created by wind, sun, and rain. We will walk around 3 km down to the Charyn River where we will have a picnic on the riverbank. After taking time to relax we will then re-ascend to the rim of the canyon, which will take around one hour. We will then drive on to the village of Satty, and from there to Kaindy Lake. The last 30 minutes of this journey is offroad.

The unusual and someone mysterious-looking Kaindy Lake (Birch Lake) is located at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level. It was formed after a powerful earthquake in 1911 when a huge landslide blocked the river and the water flooded the valley. This is why there are Tien Shan fir trees in the middle of the lake. The water of the lake is very cold. This preserves the needles of the flooded trees and leaves them clearly visible through the transparent water. Trees’ dry trunks stand out above the surface of the lake.

In the evening we will leave Kaindy Lake and drive back to Satty village, where we will have a hearty dinner and stay the night at the guesthouse of the local family.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Kolsay Lakes

Today you will choose from two options.

Active option: If you would like to challenge yourself with a mountain hike, get up early and we will drive to the first Kolsai Lake (15km, 30 min) and start hiking to the second lake. Hiking takes around three hours to get up and two hours to go down (16 km in total). We will start hiking at 7:00 am and will return to the starting point around 1:00 pm.

Comfortable option: After a leisurely breakfast, enjoy some free time in the village and before we drive to the first Kolsai Lake (15 km, 30 min). Here you will be able to admire the mountain scenery and take a boat ride. If you don’t mind the cold water you can also have a bracing swim!

Everybody will rendezvous for a picnic lunch at the first Kolsai Lake and we will then drive back to Almaty (c. 4 hours) in the afternoon. You will dine independently in Almaty.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Where you'll stay
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Novotel Almaty

Novotel Almaty

Almaty City Tour

The last two days will have been quite active, with lots of driving and hiking. Today we will slow down and enjoy Almaty on a relaxed half-day city tour. Almaty was the Kazakh capital until 1997 and is still the largest city in Kazakhstan. Its name translates as “the place of apples” as it is believed this is the place where apples first grew. Almaty is a charming and green city, with wide, tree-lined roads and the Zailisky Ala-Too Mountains forming the backdrop to the city.

Today we will visit Panfilov Park, which is named after World War II General Panfilov. An impressive monument has been erected in the centre of the park in honour 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 explore local Kazakh culture as you shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. After the market, we will take the cable car to Kok Tobe, a hilltop overlooking the city with panoramic views. The rest of the day will be spent at leisure: you might want to join the guide at the museum or head up to the Shymbulak ski resort above Almaty to enjoy more mountain scenery and fresh air.

Kazakhstan is a multicultural country with more than 130 ethnicity living peacefully together. We will have our farewell dinner for Kazakhstan in a Georgian restaurant.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Where you'll stay
Expand
Novotel Almaty

Novotel Almaty

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

  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...
  • Ustyurt Plateau

    Ustyurt Plateau

    ...
  • Aktau

    Aktau

    ...
  • Charyn Canyon

    Charyn Canyon

    ...
  • 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...
  • 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...

Upcoming departures

Departing Returning    
11 May 2022 20 May 2022 Enquire
8 Jun 2022 17 Jun 2022 Enquire
21 Sep 2022 30 Sep 2022 Enquire
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.

Enquire now

Where to stay

Some of our sample accommodation.

Carefully-selected, quality assured hotels ranging from three or four stars and camping.

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Novotel Almaty

Novotel Almaty

Each room comes with a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom...

Expand
Hilton Garden Inn Astana

Hilton Garden Inn Astana

Hilton Garden Inn Astana is located on the left bank of Ishim River in Astana...

Reviews

What people are saying about Kalpak Travel

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 €2,190 pp.

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

What's included

Included Ground transfers

All ground transfers included by train, minivan and jeep.

Included Internal flights

Internal flight included.

Included Some meals

Full board; 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 9 dinners.

Included Accommodation

Six nights in hotels, two nights camping and one night in a guesthouse.

Included Guided excursions

English speaking guide throughout the trip.

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.

Learn more

Contact us now for expert advice on how to tailor this tour to your requirements and budget.

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