Sat at the meeting point of modern space exploration technology, ancient Silk Road history and former U.S.S.R roots, Kazakhstan’s culture is as varied as its landscapes. For the most part, Central Asia’s vast Republic of Kazakhstan is shrouded in mystery, known mostly for its association with the former USSR, for its endless landscapes of desert steppe, and sometimes for Borat. But this country also provides a dramatic backdrop for many pioneering and modern space exploration missions.
In June 2016 Kazakhstan made the world news, warding off its fictional character-led reputation by welcoming an inter-planetary visitor back to earth. After launching from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome – the world’s first and largest space launch facility – British Astronaut, Tim Peake, returned to terra firma safely having spent six months on the International Space Station. Indulge the curiosity of your inner cosmonaut and visit Baikonur with us. Here you’ll have the opportunity to tour the Integration and Test Facility complex, visit the Space and Spaceport History Museums and see cottages inhabited by astronauts Gagarin and Korolev.
But when Kazakhstan is dotted with Silk Road trading towns and intriguing remnants of its place in Soviet-era history, there are so much more to explore. We’ll also take you deeper into the country on a journey almost through time; spend a few days in bustling Almaty, admire the huge lakes that sit cradled by snow-capped mountains and visit the archaeological sites at 12th-century Aisha-Bibi and Karakhan Mausoleum. Head on to Turkestan, where you’ll tour the impressive medieval fortress at Sauran – once the largest civilisation in the country.
Bringing you back to the modern day, this tour ends in Astana. Kazakhstan’s futuristic capital city boasts an eclectic skyline dominated by the domed Bayterek Tower and flashy glass buildings. For 2017, this tour can be added as a continuation of our popular Back in the U.S.S.R Group Tour, visiting the former nuclear testing site, to form a one-off in-depth exploration of Kazakhstan.
Depart London Heathrow and fly via Astana to Almaty.
Arrive in Almaty and spend the afternoon at leisure, resting in the hotel or exploring the city. (B,L,D)
Enjoy a tour of Kazakhstan’s former capital city—visit Panfilov Park and Zenkov Cathedral (the second largest wooden building in the world built without the use of nails), Green Bazaar, Kok-Tobe Hill and Medeo Gorge—proud home to Kazakhstan’s outdoor speed-skating rink. (B,L,D)
Head out of the city to the countryside outside of Almaty. Start by visiting Big Almaty lake, at an altitude of 2,510 metres this is one of the most picturesque lakes in Trans-Ili Alatau. The lake was formed by the movement of an ancient glacier and the water remains cool all year round and the number of visitors is restricted. After spending time at the lake continue to an altitude of 3,300 metres to the base of Big Almaty peak where you can enjoy a fantastic panorama of the lakes and moutains, the slopes covered with fir-trees, aspen and juniper. On the way back to the city visit a falcon farm and see a demonstration of the traditional Kazakh way of hunting. After dinner transfer to the railway station for the overnight train to Taraz (shared berths). (B,L,D)
Arrive in Taraz in the morning where you will be met by your guide and embark on a tour of the city, visiting Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum, Babaja-Hatum and Karakhan Mausoleum and The Tekturmas Historical Complex before continuing on to Shymkent. (B,L,D)
Today head to the Otrar Region and the Shaulder Settlement. Visit the Arystan-Bab Mausoleum and explore the archaeological site of the ancient settlement of Otrar before continuing to Turkestan. In Turkestan visit the Azret-Sultan historical and architectural complex, the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yawasi, Turkestan ancient settlement, necropolis, a fragment of the fortress wall and Hilvet underground mosque. (B,L,D)
Spend a half-day tour to the medieval settlement of Sauran—one of the most important monuments in Kazakhstan. For many years Sauran fortress visited by adventurers and lovers of antiquities, and shows the underground water conduits—kahrezes—that brought water to the settlement from the Karatau Mountains, 110km away. After Sauran board the train for the journey to Baikonur where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel. (B,L,D)
Baikonur is the world’s oldest and largest space launch site. Sputnik was launched from Baikonur, as was Yuri Gargarin’s first manned mission through to Tim Peake landing here in 2016 after spending six months on the international space station. Transfer to the site and tour the Integration and Test Facility complex, followed the by Space museum, “Buran” Orbital complex and the cottages of cosmonauts Korolev and Gagarin, before “Gagarin’s Start” complex In the afternoon take a city tour of Baikonur and visit the Spaceport History Museum. (Please note that access to some sites is subject to Roscosmos permits and are subject to change). (B,D)
Transfer to Kyzylorda for the flight to Kazakhstan’s futuristic capital city, Astana, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. (B,L,D)
Explore Kazakhstan’s futuristic capital city visiting the Norman Foster designed Palace of Peace and Accord, and Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment centre, ascend the iconic Bayterek Tower to enjoy stunning views over the city. Continue up Water Green Boulevard to Presidential Palace area before visiting the impressive Khazret Sultan Mosque. (B,L,D)
Transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK. (B)
11 day tour, from £3135 per person
- 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
- Travel Insurance
- Tips and gratuities
- Any optional excursions as stated
- Any other items not mentioned
No single supplement
Please note that this tour will operate with a minimum of 8 persons and maximum 16 persons.
27 May 2017
06 Jun 2017
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