Until twenty years ago, Kazakhstan was one of the great unknowns, a relatively undiscovered region of the former USSR. But today many travelers are happy to visit Kazakhstan.
Located along the old silk roadThis land of vast plains, beautiful mountains, clear lakes, and clean rivers was considered easy, unwelcome, and remote for all but some of the toughest adventure travelers.
Today Kazakhstan is an ethnically diverse republic having a unique mix of cultures on the border between Europe and Asia.
It is affluent, modern and chic in places, pristine, cultural and serene in others. It borders the Caspian Sea, the only inland sea in the world, and is famous for its caviar. It is also the nation that gave tulips, apples, and domesticated horses to the world.
History of Kazakhstan
In the past, Kazakhstan was largely divided into two parts – the area of the populated Silk Road in the south and communities of nomadic horsemen who covered the rest of the country.
This situation lasted until the beginning of the 20th century when the Kazakh people suffered serious difficulties under Soviet rule.
An estimated 1.5 to 2 million died of starvation, some people fled to China while others, mostly intellectuals, were suppressed by the regime. The image of an unwelcome and cold country undoubtedly emerged here. However, In December 1991 Kazakhstan was declared an independent state and circumstances began to change.
Sights in Kazakhstan – its cities, towns and landscapes
Kazakhstan is the size of Western Europe and four times the size of Texas. In the north, south-east and west there is a chance to enjoy everything from five-star hotels to traditional Kazakh tent houses – yurts where guests can learn about local customs, lifestyle and traditions.
There are mountain hikes and game reserves, extreme touring adventures and the opportunity to try out the ancient tradition of hunting with birds of prey. There are also options for those interested in history and culture.
Kazakhstan strives to attract foreign visitors, so those who take the time to visit are treated with tremendous respect and genuine hospitality.
Visit the south of Kazakhstan
The South is rich in ancient history and culture. It is known for its medieval architecture, mausoleums and ancient burial mounds. It is also the location of Kazakhstan’s equivalent of Cape Canavera – the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
- AlmatyThe city of the apple tree was the capital of the country between 1929 and 1998 and is the largest financial and cultural center in the south. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Kazakhstan at the foot of the Zailisky Alatau Mountains, a base for exploring and winter sports.
- The Shymbulak ski area offers exciting runs on deep snow between November and April and in spring, summer and autumn there are opportunities for hiking and hiking through the gorges and foothills as well as the opportunity to relax by crystal clear lakes.
- The wide steppe of Baikonur This is where the Baikonur Cosmodrome is located, the largest of its kind in the world. Here the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was blown into space in April 1961 to be the first person to orbit the earth. The first satellite “Sputnik I” was also launched here. Until a few years ago, excursions on the site were not possible for foreign visitors, but today everyone can visit the launch complex, the space shuttle “Buran”, Gagarin’s launch site, as well as a small museum with photos of each expedition that has started. There are also pieces of Gagarin-related memorabilia, including his uniforms and a memento left on the ground from his landing site.
The site is in a semi-arid and uninhabited area with road and rail connections. It is advisable to arrange visits through a specialized tour company such as Country of Tourism Ltd or Kendala Adventures as permits are in great demand, especially in advance of takeoffs.
Places of the Silk Road in Kazakhstan
The most densely populated region of Kazakhstan, Shymkentis the third largest city in the country. The city was founded in the 12th century as a shelter for the town of Sayram, an important station on the Silk Road 10 km to the east, but the town soon developed into a central market town for trade between the settlers and the nomads.
Two other fine examples of important cities on the Silk Road are Turkestan (Yassay) and Taraz.
Taraz is more than 2,000 years old and is known as a merchant town. It features ancient archaeological monuments such as the 12th-century fretwork mausoleum of Aishai-Bibi, a UNESCO-listed monument, and the unique 16-ribbed umbrella dome of the 11th-century Babadja-Khatun mausoleum, the only one of its kind Kind in Central Asia. After all, the city of Turkestan, 1500 years old, and the final resting place of the Muslim poet and humanitarian man Hodzha Ahmed Yassavi.
Visit Western Kazakhstan
Western Kazakhstan is the crossroads between Europe and Asia. The Caspian Sea, the Volga, and the Urals make it a prime area for hunting, fishing, and water sports. Here it is also possible to observe the second lowest land level on earth, the Karaghiye Depression; 132 meters below sea level. There are clear springs, beach resorts, and canyons where extreme travelers appreciate climbing striking cliffs.
It’s not just southern Kazakhstan that influenced the Silk Road, tThe west and the Caspian Sea were also of enormous importance. Small settlements – caravanserais – survived here in Sartash, Ketyk and Alta. There is also the legendary holy mountain Sherkala, on which ruins of a fortress of Jochi, the eldest son of Genghis Khan, can still be seen.
As well as a thriving beach resort, the surroundings Aktau Here are galleries with rock carvings, the nomads from the 10th and 2nd centuries BC. And an underground necropolis created by Beket-Ata, the Muslim prophet to whom all creation was open.
Ustyurt National Biosphere Reserve is a land of desert landscapes, lowlands, plateaus and a paradise for rare animals. Here you can find Ustyurt mouflon, cheetah, jackal, fox, saiga, gazelle and hedgehog with long spines. In addition to the reserve, Ustyurt also has the ruins of ancient settlements and cemeteries on the bank of the Dead Kultuk, which are believed to belong to nomadic tribes from the 4sth Century B.C.
Visit Northern Kazakhstan
Northern Kazakhstan is another region that has great outdoor opportunities such as cycling, boating, and off-roading, as well as nature reserves and health resorts.
One of the most popular resorts for both locals and visitors is Borovoye. Known as the Switzerland of Kazakhstan and just like its namesake, it has a rich selection of restaurants, bars, shops, and nightlife. It is a natural oasis with lakes and pristine green forests, campsites and lakeside health resorts. Visitors looking for a secluded experience can cross the small mountainous isthmus to reach Big Chebach Lake, which is a perfect, calm, wild experience.
The capital of Kazakhstan, Astanais a cosmopolitan and architectural city. Located on the banks of the Ishim River, the city offers everything from opera and ballet to modern architecture such as the Baiterek Tower, the city’s landmark. At the top of the 97 meter high tower is a viewing platform with a mile-long bird’s eye view. There is also a restaurant, art gallery, and large aquarium below.
Visit Central Kazakhstan
Central Kazakhstan is a vast and relatively undiscovered region of the country and location of the unique Blakhash Lake; one of the largest lakes in the world.
Balkhash lake is the largest non-drained reservoir after the Aral and Caspian Seas. It is unique because of the different mineral composition of its water in the eastern and western parts and it is also a phenomenon because of its fish. There are an incredible number of fish in the lake; Trout, marinka fish, carp, white amur, barbed fish, bream, barbel fish, catfish and many others. Every year between 8 and 10 thousand tons of fish are caught here.
In the central region is also located Bektauata mountain range which consists of bizarre shaped rocks. When the weather is clear, the massif can be seen for hundreds of kilometers, which gives it the nickname “Lighthouse of Balkhash”. Daylight penetrates deep into the caves, where cave explorers explore grottos and crystal cellars. Over thousands of years the pounding elements have eroded the granite to create fantastic rock formations with names like mushroom, chest and turtle.
Visit East Kazakhstan
East Kazakhstan is characterized by the Altai and its wooded foothills, the Irtysh and the lakes; This is the border with China, Mongolia and Russia. The Rudnyi, Southern Altai, Kalby and Saur-Tarbagatai mountain ranges play an important role in the region’s landscape.
Covered in snow Belukha mountain is the highest mountain in the Altai and in Siberia. It is the kingdom of ice and snow with incredible thundering avalanches and clear, sparkling waterfalls. Berkutaul, home of an eagle, is the neighboring mountain and one of the most popular peaks of the southern Altai. At 3,373 meters, this area is also home to the critically endangered snow leopard, some of the most illusory animals in the world.
Markakol Reserve is another land of animals. Siberian deer, ermine, brown bears, elk, foxes, lynxes, sables, the rare red wolf and birds such as the falcon, grouse, black stork and herring gull can all be found in the forest. There are attractive rocky mountains with green forests, fir forests and subalpine meadows that are rich in flowers and rare medicinal plants.
Kiin-Kerishwhich literally means that proud beauty is a natural city of tertiary clay; An incredibly beautiful and unique place with distinctive orange, white and red structures. The main feature of Kiin-Kerish are small layers of sand and clay with imprints of plants from the ancient tropical past and the fossils of rhinos, crocodiles, turtles and salamanders.