Embark on a 13-day personalised journey through Kazakhstan's diverse landscapes. Traverse vibrant cities, remote villages, ancient ruins, and breathtaking national parks using road, rail, and air travel. Delve into the cultural richness of Shymkent, Turkestan, and Aralsk, marvel at the awe-inspiring Charyn Canyon, and immerse yourself in the modern allure of the newly minted capital, Astana. This tailor-made tour offers a captivating blend of history, nature, and contemporary splendour, ensuring an unforgettable exploration of Kazakhstan's vibrant tapestry.
Fly to Almaty with Air Astana.
Arrive in Almaty and transfer to the hotel for an early check in. Enjoy free time before meeting a guided introductory afternoon tour of the city. Discover Panfilov Park and Zenkov Cathedral which is one of the world’s unique wooden constructions built without any nails. Continue to Republic Square and the Independence Monument and enjoy the evening at leisure. (B)
Depart Almaty for Atlyn Emel National Park, an area largely comprised of desert and rocky terrain. Tour the area in detail with visits to the fascinating Singing Dune and Besshatyr burial mounds. Overnight in a guesthouse in Altyn Emel. (B,L,D)
From Altyn Emel visit Charyn Canyon, known locally as 'The Grand Canyon of Kazakhstan'. The Charyn River has carved a 150-300 metre deep canyon into the burnt red rocky ground. Visit the canyon known as the Valley of Castles, before ending the day in Almaty. Check in to the hotel for two nights. (B,L)
Spend the morning exploring Almaty at leisure before transferring to Almaty train station in the afternoon to board the overnight train to Shymkent. Please note that this journey takes around 9 hours. Overnight onboard. (B)
Arrive in Tulkubas train station this morning and meet with the local guide. Drive to Zhabagly village and check into a guesthouse before exploring the green valleys, rushing rivers and snow-capped peaks of the reserve. The reserve is located west of the mighty Tien Shan Mountains and is surrounded by the Kyzyl Kum Desert. (B,L,D)
Today spend the full day exploring the Aksu Zhabagly Reserve. The itinerary today will be flexible dependent on your interests, but would typically include the Kshi-Kaindy Falls and the Aksu Canyon. The day can also be tailored for walkers or bird watchers. (B,L,D)
After breakfast drive to Shymkent. Explore the ruins of Otrar and Turkestan. Otrar has a history that dates back 2,000 years as a once prosperous trading centre. Ancient palaces, bathhouses and mosques tell of the grandeur the city once held. After exploring, catch an overnight train to Aralsk. (B,L)
This morning arrive into Aralsk, meet the local guide and enjoy a tour of this small city. Aralsk was once an important fishing village and the large mosaic in the train station depicts fishermen with their catch. Due to Soviet irrigation schemes the Aral sea has shrunk some 60km from Aralsk. This afternoon enjoy free time to explore this remote town at leisure. Depart on an overnight train to Kyzyl-Orda. (B)
This morning arrive into Kyzyl-Orda. Embark on an afternoon tour of this former capital of Soviet Kazakhstan before taking an evening flight to Astana. On arrival in Astana transfer to the hotel and check in for two nights. Enjoy the evening at leisure. (-)
Transfer to the airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)