|01 Sep - 16 Sep|
Kazakhstan is a vast country of contrasts. From seemingly endless rolling steppes to rugged mountain landscapes, rolling deserts and bustling metropolitan cities, the country has everything an intrepid traveller could want - and in 2024 it offers even more with the country being named as host of the 5th International World Nomad Games.
Join our small-group tour to Kazakhstan and explore the remote "secret city" of Aktau for a cruise on the Caspian Sea and a visit to the mysterious Valley of the Balls. Fly east to the hustle of Almaty and discover the mountains around Medeo Gorge, Panfilov Park and Zenkov Cathedral and impressive Charyn Canyon before taking a train south to Astana where you will not only explore the bustling city but enjoy the unique experience of the "Olympics of the Nomads". Whether your interest extends to horseback archery, Alysh (Kyrgyz belt-wrestling), Mongol Bokh (traditional Mongolian wrestling) or Kok Boru (headless goat polo), there should be an event for you so come and immerse yourself in the sports traditions of this fascinating region.
This tour is a complete package starting and finishing in the UK and will run with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 14 persons.
World Nomad Games images: copyright Artem Kolosov, R. Iliasov and the World Nomad Games Committee
Fly from London to Aktau.
Land in Aktau early in the morning and then transfer to the hotel. Enjoy some free time before heading out on an afternoon city tour of Aktau, a Soviet-era "secret city". Stroll the waterside promenade, the Skalnaya Tropa, or Rocky Path, which offers magnificent views of the Caspian Sea. In the evening, tuck into some dinner in a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Visit the Aktau Museum to learn about the history and see the famous MIG statue. Continue to Astana Square to behold the mighty Caravel of Columbus Monument. Head on to Primorsky Boulevard, passing the old Melovoi lighthouse. In the evening, take a short catamaran cruise on the Caspian Sea and admire the city from the water. After, return to land and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Head into the wilds of Mangystau Province to visit the remote Valley of the Balls, the home to a multitude of spherical rock formations spread across the steppe, the origins of which are still unconfirmed. Continue to Sherkala, or Lion Mountain, which sits along the ancient silk road and is said to resemble an oversized yurt. Push on to the Sultan Epe Necropolis, which boasts an underground mosque and a garden with a well that links to a holy spring. If time allows, there'll also be a visit to the Red City of Kyzylkala, which dates back to the 10th Century. Then, return to Aktau. (B,L,D)
Take a full day to explore Bozjyra on the dramatic Ustyurt Plateau. Observe the "tiramisu mountains", as they are known locally, and search for fossilised shells and sharks teeth dating back to the Mesozoic Era. (B,L,D)
Enjoy the morning at leisure before boarding the short flight to Almaty. Arrive and transfer to the hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing. (B)
Depart the city and drive to Medeo Gorge, home to the highest skating rink in the world. Take the cable car to the mountain ski resort of Shymbulak for amazing views of the Tien-Shan Mountains. Return to the city and visit the Bustling Green Bazaar and immerse yourself in the scents, sights and sounds of central Asia! Stroll by the stalls and take time to sample traditional food stuffs before continuing to Panfilov Park. The park is home to Zenkov Cathedral, which was (impressively!) constructed without the use of nails. See the Memorial of Glory and, if time allows, visit the Almaty underground for the chance to see its marble floors and the chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. (B,L)
Depart the city and drive to the picturesque Charyn Canyon. Resembling the Grand Canyon, the area formed 12 million years ago and is a popular out of town destination for Almaty city dwellers looking for respite from the bustle of the city. (B,L)
Head to the Huns Ethno Village to discover the ancient culture and traditions of Kazakh nomads. It's an interactive site, so you'll be invited to learn to cook "buarsak" bread and see the construction of a Kazakh yurt. Enjoy a display of traditional nomad events before a traditional lunch. In the afternoon return to Almaty and head to Kok-Tobe Hill to enjoy panoramic views of the city. (B,L)
Enjoy a free morning before transferring to the train station to board the high-speed overnight sleeper service to Astana. This high speed service can see trains running at a mighty 200kmph! There's a bar and restaurant on board to keep you refreshed. (B)
Arrive in Astana and transfer to the hotel for immediate check-in. Take some time to freshen up after the train journey before heading out to explore the city. Stroll along Water-Green Boulevard and visit the Nur-Sultan Mosque, the largest in central Asia. Continue to Bayterek Tower and climb to the top for incredible views of the capital. (B,L)
Today we will continue our city wanderings. Discover Astana's cultural gems: Astana Opera, Central Asia's largest theatre; the Presidential Palace showcasing the yurt-inspired Oriental Hall and the Triumphal Arch symbolising Kazakh achievements. Delve into history at the National Museum on Independence Square, explore the architectural marvels of the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, and the grandeur of Khazret Sultan Mosque. (B,L)
Drive out to the ALZHIR Memorial Complex, a former gulag for the wives and children of political prisoners, which was once regarded as one of the most notorious camps in Kazakhstan. The museum was opened in 2007 and also incorporates the Memorial to the Victims of Political Repression. After, return to the city for a final "farewell" group dinner (as we hope to be attending the Games closing ceremony on the final night of the trip). (B,L,D)
Today is your first introduction to the 5th World Nomad Games, or the "Olympics of the Nomads" as it's referred to by some. The whole day is free to attend the games and enjoy whatever event you may like, be it archery, wrestling, eagle hunting or kok buru (headless goat polo). (B)
Enjot your final day at the games. Again, the day is yours to attend whatever event(s) you'd like to, and there may be medal ceremonies to watch. In the evening, we'll try to get tickets for the closing ceremony of the games. Historically this has been a rather spectacular affair, so we're hoping for a similarly exciting event. This is a great way to end the holiday and the games! (B)
Wave goodbye to Kazakhstan and fly back to the UK. (B)
|Itinerary Dates||From Price||Single Room Supp.|
01 Sep 2024
16 Sep 2024