Kazakhstan Off The Beaten Path

  • Charin gorge
    Charin gorge
    by mirko77
  • Our drivers
    Our drivers "Marat" & "Akim"
    by mirko77
  • Going down
    Going down
    by TheWanderingCamel

Kazakhstan Off The Beaten Path

  • The Tien Shan Mountains

    The Tien Shan Mountains, which mean "Celestial Mountains" in Chinese, make up a range of tall mountains that is located north and east of the Taklamakan Desert in the border regions of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and western China. They form one of the longest mountain ranges in the world, stretching about 1,740 miles (2,800 kilometers) from west to...

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  • Soviet-Era Pillboxes

    Cold War tensions existed not only between the Soviet Union and the West, but also between the Soviet Union and China. The Soviet Union had an almost schizophrenic fear that the Chinese would invade. The area near Charyn Canyon is very close to the Chinese border, and during the Soviet era it was one of the most heavily fortified borders in the...

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  • The Sugaty Plain

    The arid Sugaty Plain lies east of Almaty. Most travelers will have no reason to visit the Sugaty Plain unless passing through on their way to Charyn Canyon. Birdwatchers, however, come here to look for raptors, sandgrouse, larks, wheatears, and other birds of arid country. The prize here is the Pallas's sandgrouse, a rare bird that is difficult to...

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  • The Tamgaly Archaeological Complex

    Located in Tamgaly Gorge in the Chu-Ili Mountains northwest of Almaty, the Tamgaly Archaeological Complex features the ruins of ancient settlements, burial mounds, and around 5,000 petroglyphs carved on the surfaces of the area's glazed black rock.For the nomadic peoples who lived on the open steppes, the Tamgaly Gorge offered shelter, and numerous...

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  • Charyn Canyon

    Charyn Canyon is located about 120 miles (193 kilometers) southeast of Almaty, close to the Chinese border. The red-rock canyon is one of the most impressive geological formations in Kazakhstan and is the main attraction of Charyn National Park, which was established in 2004 to protect the canyon and the surrounding area. Because it resembles a...

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  • Big Almaty Lake

    Located about 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Almaty, Big Almaty Lake is the main attraction of Alatau-Eliy National Park. The alpine lake is high in the Tien Shan Mountains at an altitude of 8,238 feet (2,511 meters). It is fed by the Almaty River and covers the bottom of the Big Almaty Gorge, which is surrounded by towering mountain peaks. The...

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  • The Kazakh Steppe

    In addition to deserts and mountains, a significant percentage of Kazakhstan is made up of the Kazakh steppe, which is a vast region of open grassland in the northern part of the country and adjacent areas in Russia. The steppe is a semi-arid grassy plain that gradually changes to true desert in the south. Stretching about 1,367 miles (2,200...

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  • Ancient rock art

    Tamgaly Tas is a deep ravine with the walls covered in petroglyphs dating back thousands of years through to the Bhuddistic 16th century CE. Amazing scenes of mammoths,cattle, deer, horses, mountain sheep, men hunting and, in the "Sanctuary" a group of sun-headed gods and worshippers, all in an empty landscape that is so quiet and still the...

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  • Old Almaty

    Most of Almaty was razed to the ground by the earthquake of 1911. Subsequently the city became a Soviet satellite, full of massive buildings and vast blocks of flats, but a small pocket of of the old-style Almaty can be found in the Tartar district in the streets behind the zoo. Small wooden houses; often unpaved streets; lots of trees and...

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  • Aktau

    An extremely insane place by the Caspian Sea where only one of the citys streets actually have a name (the rest are just just numbered 'microrayons')...Must be nice during summer when you can have a drink by the sea as you're watching the oiltankers glide by...The train ride here from Aktöbe offers some of the most depressing sights you'll ever sea...

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  • Visit wonderful Semipalatinsk

    Stroll down the dusty streets towards the river and spend half an hour by the polygon memorial, if you're lucky you might stumble across a wedding group going there to get their pictures taken (mostly on fridays)...

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  • The Tien Shan Astronomical Observatory

    The Tien Shan Astronomical Observatory is set amid the Tien Shan Mountains at an altitude of about 9,000 feet (2,743 meters), and is 19 miles (30 kilometers) south of Almaty. Constructed during the Soviet era, the Russians lease the observatory from the Kazakh government and still operate it, mainly in the autumn and winter when the sky is at its...

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  • Turanga Forests

    Turanga is a species of poplar tree that is endemic to the steppes of Kazakhstan, meaning that it grows nowhere else in the world. The trees grow in groves, or turanga forests, along the rivers and inland deltas in the steppe region. Many of these forests are endangered from local people cutting them for firewood or from overgrazing. The turanga...

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  • Visit the old Gulag from Karaganda

    When in Karaganda a thought provoking trip is to visit the Karlug (Karaganda Gulag). A few km away are the villages that gre out of the old Soviet prison camps. We were given a tour by the local Akim (chief administrator) who is getting a museum together and said that he is very keen for visitors. Such a trip will provoke much reflection, so do be...

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  • Big Almaty Lake

    The gorge leading up to Big Almaty (Bolshoe Almatinskoe) Lake is a beautiful, green wild area starting just 15km outside Almaty. A bus will take you to the a village (Kok-shoky) near the entrance to the gorge and from there it is a long hike up to the lake - a good 5-6 hours. The gorge rises to a large bowl in the mountains where the lake sits at...

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  • Artisan's village and craft workers

    Cheber Aul is a village outside Almaty , created for artisans by the government some 20 years ago. It's set in the beautiful Bolshaya Almatinka Gorge - right next to a hydroelectric powere station! Tourism not being exactly big in Kazakhstan (it is a long way from anywhere remember) the village never really got going and it's a rather hit and miss...

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  • Up and up

    Chimbulak is the popular ski base above Medeo. With a chairlift rising in 3 stages to over 3000m even in the height of summer you can go beyond the snowline.The skiing season is a long one - November to May, but by early June the weather is warm enough for the lift to be carrying you over green mountain meadows spangled with wildflowers - deep...

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  • Step out on the steppe

    Driving across the steppe south and west of Almaty in early summer was fantastic - not really what I expected at all. It was all very green, and the smell coming up from the ground was wonderful as the car drove over the plants, crushing them and releasing a pungent, herby scent. The bird life was amazing - flocks of little brown ground-nesting...

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  • The West. West Kazakhstan is...

    The West. West Kazakhstan is the meeting point of Europe and Asia in the basin of the Caspian Sea. The region's Karagie Depression, 132,9433 ft below the sea level, is the lowest point in the world after the Dead Sea in Sinai. There are many architectural heritage sites in this region, including the subterranean cross-shaped Shakpak-Ata Mosque...

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  • In the midst of desolate...

    In the midst of desolate steppes of Western Kazakstan just south of the Aral Sea lays the biggest Russian space launch center: the Baikonur cosmodrome. Except for a brief gasp of spring, when steppes flood with wild colors of tulips and fresh grass, the landscape stays burned and dry most of the summer and frozen dead in the winter.

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  • Isfidzhab

    This is a town 12 km to the south from Chimkent, some nice buildings remain there, though without particular highlights. The town itself, however, is older than Moscow , so it is of venerable age!Not Rome or Athens, but :)))

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  • Ruins of Otrar

    Otrar is not far from the town of Turkestan - go to the south as you leave the town. You can hire a car and make a trip to Otrar. Surprisingly, this place is not as well known as it should be... Remains of old houses, staircases of a palace, many bowls can be seen. You will also be able to visit the mosque and see how the water is extracted from...

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  • When you travel by car or...

    When you travel by car or train from one city to another you can see endless deserts , hills & even wild animals, even the places where nobody steped before (because the population of Kazakhstan is too small for this huge territory)

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  • Outside the city, the...

    Outside the city, the mountains and hills turn into rolling and almost treeless steppe Within 50 miles of Almaty's green foothills, you can be, incredibly enough,in a desert. Before that, there is endless rolling steppe, on which the Kazakh horsemen breed, raise and utilize their mounts as they have done for thousands of yearsIf you want to learn...

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  • Wandering around in Zhambyl...

    Wandering around in Zhambyl (now Taraz), my friend and I happened across a little plot of what seemed to be statues or headstones. This was just behind the local museum--pretty much every town larger than a village in the former Soviet Union has a local museum. To this day, I have no idea what these statues are or why they were placed there. They...

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  • While I lived in Kazakhstan I...

    While I lived in Kazakhstan I took two day trips through the nearby mountains in aging Aeroflot helicopters. At the time, a five-hour trip (including lunch!) cost an incredibly cheap US$75. The rides were amazing--the helicopters, which seated about 15 people plus the two-man crew, had portholes that you could open and stick your head out. We flew...

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  • From the top of the avalanche...

    From the top of the avalanche barrier there is a good view of the Zailiysky Alatau range further south. A few kilometers up this valley is Shymbulaq, the best skiing center on Central Asia.

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  • A young man and his pony. ...

    A young man and his pony. Surprised to know that they all speak Chinese..!!!!? From the top of the avalanche barrier there is a good view of the Zailiysky Alatau range further south. A few kilometers up this valley is Shymbulaq, the best skiing center on Central Asia. For all its difficulties, Almaty is a prosperous city with many shops, a big...

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  • For all its difficulties,...

    For all its difficulties, Almaty is a prosperous city with many shops, a big Zangar department store and this well stocked central market. Kazakstan's oil and gas explain its 3 010 US$ per inhabitant gross national product, the second of Central Asia after Turkmenistan (who has more of it). Several big internationals are investing here. This is a...

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  • south of Almaty are high...

    south of Almaty are high mountains and in March there is still enough snow for skiing. The place is called chimbulak. The locals told me, that prices for renting equipment are very high.

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Kazakhstan Hotels

  • Saltanat Residence

    Furmanov Str. 164, Almaty, 050021, Kazakhstan

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Families

  • Radisson Sas Hotel, Astana

    Sarky Arka 4, Astana, Kazakhstan, 010000, KZ

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Couples

  • Renaissance Atyrau Hotel

    Best and most expensive business Hotel to stay in Atyrau. However this is not saying much. This...

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  • Cosmonaut Hotel

    162-a Krivoguza street, Karaganda, 100019, Kazakhstan

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • Grand Hotel Victory

    Building 25A 13 Microdistrict, Aktau, 130000, Kazakhstan

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Couples

  • Best Eastern Albion

    13 Aiteke Bi Street, Aktobe, 463022, KZ

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Business

  • Renaissance Aktau

    Microdistrict 9 Mangystau Reg, AKTAU, 130000, KZ

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Couples

  • Best Eastern Albion

    13 Aiteke Bi Street Aktobe I

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Business

  • Best Eastern Soonkar Hotel

    57 SEMBINOVA STREET, ASTANA 473000, Kazakhstan nul

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Kazakhstan Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Kazakhstan off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Kazakhstan sightseeing.
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