From  £2295
per person
Tour Highlights
  • Uncover the futuristic city of Astana
  • Walk through the ghost town of Chagan
  • Learn about the history of the Russian Civil War
  • Journey along the territory of the former Semipalatinsk test site
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Back in the U.S.S.R

11 Day Tour, from £2295 per person

Few countries are as vast, yet as shrouded in mystery as the Republic of Kazakhstan. Once part of the USSR, it became an independent nation in 1991, yet it still retains many of the traditions and features of its Soviet past.

It has had a turbulent and fascinating history from its early times as part of the Silk Road and the skirmishes and conquests between the Central Asian Khanates; to becoming a key location in what became known as “The Great Game” – the 19th Century cold war between the British and Russian Empires.. However, fate and history sent the country on the path of the far better known Cold War, and it is possible to see the route of this path through the monuments and museums charting this. The country bore witness to the darkest episodes of the Civil War and Collectivisation, and experienced the terrors of the Purges and Gulag system.

Kazakhstan was also the backdrop to the courage and skill of the first pioneers of space, and the ambitions and idealism behind the “New Soviet Man” through the vast agricultural and industrial projects started in the middle of the 20th Century. On this small group tour see how some of these projects also took a more sinister turn as the country once again played a role in the development and testing of the USSR’s nuclear deterrent and the legacy it left.

Please note that this tour will operate with a minimum of 8 persons and maximum 16 persons.




Tour Itinerary

Depart London Heathrow and fly direct to Astana.
Arrive in Astana and transfer to your hotel to check-in and have time to rest after your flight. After breakfast spend half a day sightseeing – Astana is a futuristic ‘planned city’ and has been described as like visiting the set of a science fiction film! Embark on a whistle stop tour of the key sites such as the Presidential Culture Centre, the Congress Hall and the Monument to the Dead of the Totalitarian Regime. After lunch drive out to the village of Akmol located around 40 kilometres from Astana. Here, visit the Museum of Soviet Repression at the former ALZHIR prison camp. ALZHIR, which stands for “Akmolinskiy internment camp for the wives of the betrayers of the homeland" was one of the largest prison camps for women in the Soviet Union and was opened at the beginning of 1938. This is a really fascinating and well-presented museum. (B,L,D)
Today visit the modern part of Astana taking in the Museum of the First President and the embankment of the River Ishim. Visit the Norman Foster designed Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment centre with its indoor beach and distinctive “tent” design and walk up Green Water Boulevard to the iconic Baytarek tower—ascending to the golden globe for stunning views across the city. From there head to the area surrounding the Presidential Palace.
Today leave Kazakhstan’s glittering new capital for the city of Aksu, located some 400 kilometres away (approx. 6 hours). Journey across the vast Kazakh steppe, enjoying a picnic lunch en route and on arrival in Aksu visit the statue park full of monuments from the Soviet period including a copy of the famous ‘Worker and Kolkhoz Woman’ statue by Mukhina. Continue to the once secret closed city of Kurchatov, named after Soviet nuclear physicist Igor Kurchatov, the town was once the centre of operations for the adjoining Semipalatinsk Test Site. The city is now the home to Kazakhstan’s National Nuclear Centre, which contains a museum about the testing site, as well as a scale model of the various locations. Visit the residence of Lavrentiy Beria, the Soviet Union’s Chief of the Secret Police during the 1930s and 1940s. Check in to a local guesthouse for 2 nights. (B,L,D).
This morning visit the museum of the test site. With such a rich history, Kurchatov was the centre of the Soviet nuclear testing programme and the town’s environs provides an educational, if not sobering, experience about the legacy of nuclear weapons testing. After visiting the museum you will be driven into the Opytnoe Pole test site itself where you can see the concrete instrument towers rising from the steppe. The residual radiation levels now make it safe to visit (it would take about 400 hours to receive the same dose as a single x-ray) but as a precaution you will be provided with safety equipment and your guide will have a dosimeter to monitor the radiation levels. After visiting the epicentre of the first test, you will visit various other areas including a bunker designed as an underground station and used to test the effect of a nuclear strike on Moscow’s metro system. After the visit to the site you will return to the hotel to check-out and continue on to the town of Semey (148km), stopping to visit the abandoned town of Chagan which used to house the personnel from the nearby airbase.
Semey, founded in 1718 as a Russian fortification against the Zhungars stands 200km down the Irtysh river from Ust-Kamenogorsk, in the heartland of the Kazakh Middle Horde, noted for their eloquence and intellect. The area has produced several major Kazakh writers and teachers, notably the national poet Abai Kunanbaev (1845-1904), and Semey was a home in exile to the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. Visit museums dedicated to both writers as well as the monument to the victims of nuclear testing, now has “Stronger than Death”. Transfer to the airport for the flight to Astana (arriving at 19:10) and continue on to the city of Karaganda.
Located in the heart of the Kazakh steppe, Karaganda is know for two things: coal and labour camps. The two are connected, as the vast “KarLag” network of Stalin-era camps around Karaganda was established to provide food and labour for the mines. In fact, prison labour also built much of Karaganda itself. Today visit the former centre of the KarLag correctional labour camp in the village of Dolinka. The newly restored former main administrative building shows photos, personal images and stories from the Gulags, and visit the nearby children’s cemetery. On the way back to the city visit the Spassk memorial to the victims of Soviet repression. In the afternoon embark on a sightseeing tour of Karaganda, including the Miners’ culture palace, Stanilavsky theatre, Nurken Abdirov monument and the Ecological Museum.
After breakfast transfer back to Astana (3 hours) where you will visit the Palace of Peace and Accord, the Khazret Sultan Mosque and the National Museum, including the Golden Room where the armour of the Kazakh national symbol, the Golden Man, is housed.
EXPO 2017. Visit the various exhibits as Astana hosts the World Expo 2017 or spend time today exploring Astana under your own steam.
DAY 10
A free day to revisit the various museums in Astana or ask your Regent specialist to book a day-trip to the Borovoe Lakes, a couple of hours drive outside Astana.
DAY 11
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK.

Pricing Information

11 day tour, from £2295 per person

Price Includes

  • Return flights in economy class with Air Astana from London Heathrow 
  • All airport taxes & security charges
  • Accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis 
  • Meals as specified (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • All transfers and transportation
  • Sightseeing as specified with English-speaking guide


Price Excludes

  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Any optional excursions as stated
  • Any other items not mentioned

Price Notes

No single room supplement

Please note that this tour will operate with a minimum of 8 persons and maximum 16 persons.
Itinerary Dates  
03 Jun 2017
13 Jun 2017

Tour Route Map

  1. Kazakhstan, Astana
  2. Kazakhstan, Kurchatov
  3. Kazakhstan, Semey
  4. Kazakhstan, Karaganda
  5. Kazakhstan, Astana

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