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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, Private guided 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.

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 2,260m.

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.

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.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After having breakfast and checking-out from the hotel, you will drive to the airport to catch the flight to Turkestan at 10:15. 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.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Turkistan – Nur-Sultan (flight)

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 then transfer to the airport to catch the flight to Nur-Sultan at 6:15 pm. Upon arrival at 7:55 pm, you will drive into the city center and have dinner. Your hotel in Nur-Sultan is located right next to the iconic Baiterek Tower.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Nur-Sultan City Tour

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. You will then have a stop at the Hazrat Sultan Mosque, the largest mosque in Kazakhstan.

After lunch you’ll drive to Baiterek Tower in the very center of Nur-Sultan. 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 Nur-Sultan 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 Nur-Sultan’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.

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. 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.

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

    ...
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...
  • Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    Nur-Sultan (Astana)

    ...

Upcoming departures

Departing Returning      
12 Jun 2022 19 Jun 2022 Full Enquire
14 Aug 2022 21 Aug 2022 Full Enquire
28 Aug 2022 4 Sep 2022 Enquire
14 May 2023 21 May 2023 Enquire
4 Jun 2023 11 Jun 2023 Enquire
27 Aug 2023 3 Sep 2023 Enquire
21 Sep 2023 28 Sep 2023 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.

Talk to us

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...

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 €2,160 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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