In Kazakhstan, nature is king. This vast country, rarely at the top of travellers’ bucket lists, is home to otherworldly landscapes where mighty snow-capped mountains roll into endless steppes and barren deserts. Here travellers enjoy the pristine wilderness where nature reserves abound with indigenous flora and fauna - the elusive snow leopard even offers rare glimpses.
Kazakhstan holidays often begin by taking in Almaty, the former capital and a prosperous city with broad boulevards, chic restaurants, shops and leafy Panfilov Park, home to the wooden Zenkov Cathedral. This is contrasted with the new capital, Astana, which has a proliferation of skyscrapers dominated by the futuristic Baiterek Tower. Travellers with an interest in history will revel in the role that the Kazakh steppe and oasis towns played in the great Silk Road, and should make time to visit Turkestan, home to the magnificent 14th-century mausoleum and desolate Fort Shevchenko by the Caspian Sea.
Also often overlooked, is Kazakhstan’s role in modern history – space exploration, in particular. Head out to tour the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the world’s largest space launch facility and used by the Russians, from where Yuri Gagarin was launched into space.