Kazakhstan Tour Plan

Kazakhstan is among countries that start with K listed on Countryaah.com. Among the 48,000 or so lakes in Kazakhstan, Lake Balkhash stands out as a curiosity: the huge body of water is about half the size of Switzerland and consists of salt water in its western half and fresh water in the eastern half.

Kazakhstan Travel Guide 3

  • Day 1: Our journey begins!
  • Day 2: Welcome to Almaty!
  • Day 3: The “singing dunes” of Altyn & Emel
  • Day 4: The bizarre shapes of the Charyn Canyon
  • Day 5: Hike to the Kol-Sai lakes
  • Day 6: Off to Kyrgyzstan!
  • Day 7: Hiking in the Jergalan Valley
  • Day 8: Crossing the Beltek Pass
  • Day 9: From Svetlaya Polaya to Jety-Oguz
  • Day 10: Karakol city tour & Lake Issyk Kul
  • Day 11: Relax or be active?
  • Day 12: Workshops & the Burana Tower
  • Day 13: Bishkek city tour
  • Day 14: say goodbye!

From Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, we set off to the Altyn-Emel National Park, on the way we make a detour to a Skyther necropolis: The nomadic horsemen have left no fewer than 30 barrows and 100 ritual stone blocks here. The national park has “White Mountains” and “Red Mountains”, grassland and scrubland, forests and deserts; in it live goiter gazelles, argalis and Turkmen half donkeys. The most extraordinary are the “singing” sand dunes: when we slide down on them, they make you sit up and take notice with a deep hum.

“It is a simple hiking trip in which we combine diverse landscapes with cities,” explains Sandra from the global hiking travel team: “Almaty, Karakol, Bishkek. It is also our first trip to Kazakhstan. ” In Kyrgyzstan we are invited to host families, Tatars and Uyghurs, and in Kazakhstan we are accommodated twice with families.

At 1,600 meters we settle in the seclusion of Lake Yssikköl. The second largest mountain lake in the world is called “hot lake” in Kyrgyzstan, because it never freezes over. When we have bathed enough, we can take a trip to the Fairytale Canyon (optional): The rocks here are reminiscent of all sorts of monuments, animals and figures, of hippos, dragons, castles. One mountain ridge is named “Great Wall of China”. We all gather back at the camp for dinner and sleep like nomads in our cozy yurts.

Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner

1st day:

Our journey begins!

We fly from Europe to Kazakhstan overnight. What experiences can we expect?

2nd day:

Welcome to Almaty!

We land in Almaty early in the morning. Our guide welcomes us at the airport and takes us to our hotel after the immigration formalities. After breakfast we can rest until noon before we go on a city tour. The program includes a visit to Republic Square with its Independence Monument and a walk through the old city center (now called Astana Square) to 28 Panfilovtsev Park. Along the boulevard you pass the memorial columns dedicated to the names of 28 fighters of the 1,075th regiment of the 316th Rifle Division, who went into battle with German tanks against Moscow in the winter of 1941. Then we visit the Zenkov Cathedral (monument to the cult architecture of Christians in Kazakhstan) and the Museum of Musical Instruments,

City tour
Overnight in hotel
(B / L / D)

3rd day:

The “singing dunes” by Altyn & Emel

Today we drive to Basshi in the Altyn-Emel National Park. On the way there we make a stop in Kapchigay. There we visit the barrows of Bes Shatyr and the tomb of the Eastern Scythians. The site consists of thirty burial mounds in various sizes and hundreds of ancient “gravestones”. In the Altyn-Emel National Park, 250 km north of Almaty, extremely strange geological forms are hidden across a large steppe area. The most unusual are probably the four sand dunes there, which don’t move a bit despite the prevailing wind. They also create a low hum, similar to an airplane flying overhead, when we slide down the slopes. After our 2-hour excursion to the “singing dunes” of the Altyn-Emel, we are brought to our current guesthouse.

Driving time: 5-6 hours including excursions
Hike: approx. 2 hours
overnight stay in a guesthouse
(B / L / D)

4th day:

The bizarre shapes of the Charyn Canyon

The Charyn Canyon is located in the national park of the same name and is on our agenda today. The gorge itself is about 150 km long and 300 m deep. Another area that attracts our attention today is the so-called Valley of the Castles. Soaring rock towers and bizarre stone formations seem as if they were created by artists. We have some time to pause and be amazed. Lunch today takes the form of a picnic and in the evening we are quartered in a family pension.

Driving time: 5-6 hours.
Hike: approx. 2 hours
overnight stay in a family-run accommodation
(B / Picnic / D)

5th day:

Hike to the Kol-Sai lakes

After breakfast we leave for the Kol-Sai Lakes. Kol-Sai consists of three mountain lakes lined up one behind the other, which are between 1,700 and 2,650 m above sea level. Located in a really extraordinary location, these beautiful lakes are characterized above all for their crystal clear water. Surrounded by steep cliffs, wooded mountain slopes, and snowy knolls, this is a perfect place for hiking. After a 4-5 hour hike with a picnic in between, we drive back to our family accommodation in Shatty.

Driving time / distance: 14 km each direction.
Hike: approx. 4-5 hours.
Overnight stay in a family-run accommodation.
(F / picnic / A)

6th day:

Off to Kyrgyzstan!

Today our journey takes us to Kyrgyzstan, the “Switzerland of Central Asia”. The usual entry formalities are waiting for us at the “Kegen” border crossing, which will take about an hour. We see the San-Tash cairns (San-Tash means counted stones), a reminder from the time of Timur the Great, who instructed his soldiers that everyone should put down a stone. He wanted to find out how big his army is. Today’s destination is the village of Jergalan.

Driving time: 4-5 hours
overnight in a guesthouse
(B / Picnic / D)

7th day:

Hiking in the Jergalan Valley

We have breakfast in our guesthouse and start today’s hike directly from our accommodation. Today’s tour is about 13 km long and leads us to a secluded mountain lake. With panoramic views over the Jergalan valley, we fortify ourselves with a picnic and return to our starting point in the course of the afternoon.

Hike: approx. 4-5 hours (2,860 m at the highest point by the mountain lake)
Overnight in a guesthouse
(B / Picnic / D)

8th day:

Crossing the Beltek Pass

Today we drive a bit first to get to our next tour. The Ak-Suu Nature Park is about 1.5 hours from our guesthouse. A leisurely 4-5 hour hike awaits us. We cross the Kara-Beltek Pass (2,606 m) and descend to the town of Karakol. The vehicles are already waiting for us and after about 30 minutes we will reach our hotel. Today we have dinner with a Tatar family. What delicacies can we expect?

Driving time: approx. 2 hours. Hike: approx. 4-5 hours (+706 m)
Overnight in hotel
(B / Picnic / D)

Day 9:

From Svetlaya Polaya nacg Jety-Oguz

In the morning we are brought to the Svetlaya Gorge (approx. 1 hour drive), where another beautiful day of hiking awaits us. It goes from Svetlaya Polyana over the Kok-Jaiyk Pass to Jety-Oguz. After a 1-hour drive back to Karakul, a Uyghur family welcomes us for dinner today.

Driving time: approx. 2 hours. Hike: approx. 4-5 hours (approx. +1,000 m)
Overnight in the hotel
(B / Picnic / D)

10th day:

Karakol city tour & the Issyk Kul lake

In the early morning we start with a city tour in Karakul and visit the Sunday cattle market. We see the museum of the Russian explorer Mikhail Prjevalsky, visit the Russian Orthodox Church and the Dungan Mosque. In the afternoon we continue to the largest of the many lakes in Kyrgyzstan – Issyk Kul, which many Kyrgyz people also refer to as “our Kyrgyz sea”. With its impressive length of 182 km and its width of up to 60 km and its altitude of 1,607 m, Issyk Kul is – after Lake Titacaca – the second largest high mountain lake in the world. Its great depth of up to 668 m also makes it the tenth largest freshwater lake in the world, measured by its water content. There are snow-covered mountain ranges around the lake. The panoramas that open up to us again and again in new and different ways are simply terrific. There,

Driving time: approx. 2-3 hours
overnight in yurts
(B / L / D)

11th day:

Relax or be active?

Today is time to swim and relax at the lake. If you want, you can also take an optional excursion to the “fairy tale gorge”. It owes its name to its bizarre rocky landscape, which has been shaped into fantastic formations and sculptures over many, many years by wind and erosion. Some formations in the “Skazka” were named after similar-looking known objects. For example, a number of ridges are called the “Great Wall of China” because of their resemblance. There are formations of a hippopotamus, a snake, a kite, or a sleeping giant. Everything can be found, including entire fortresses and castles. Not only are the shapes extremely unusual, the gorge is also captivating because of its magical colors.
Another option is a trip to Barskontal, on the southern shore of the lake. Rare shrubs and steppe grasses grow at its gate and its slopes are covered with huge Tien Shan spruces. The juniper groves even grow up to over 2,800 m. Strange-looking monuments accompany us along the road that leads through this narrow valley. A Soviet truck, for example, that is standing on a platform, or the monument to the first Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who, after his flight into space, treats himself to a well-deserved vacation on the beautiful south coast of Lake Issyk-Kul. Barskoon is also famous for its waterfalls.

Overnight in yurts
(B / L / D)

12th day:

Workshops & the Burana Tower

We drive to the capital of Kyrgyzstan, to Bishkek. If we wish, we will make a stop in the village of Bokonbaevo to watch a traditional eagle hunt. Or, on the way to the village of Kyzyl Tuu (The Village of Yurt Crafts), we can get an introduction to the art of yurt building. There are two ways to choose from, on the one hand the construction of the wooden structure, on the other hand, the actual erection of a yurt. Then it goes on towards the city. On the way we visit the Burana Tower, a place on the Great Silk Road from the eleventh century. Next to the tower you can see the remains of the ancient city of Balasagyn. We visit the museum there before we continue. In Bishkek we will be brought to our hotel and in the evening we will have dinner in a local coffee house.

Travel time: approx. 5 hours.
Overnight stay in the hotel
(B / L / D)
The optional program items on this day are not included in the tour price!

13th day:

Bishkek city tour

Well strengthened after breakfast we set off for the city. During the city tour we visit the oak park, where the sculpture park, the historical museum, the theater and the Osh bazaar are located. Afterwards we see the museum of Milhail Frunze, where we can learn a lot about town and country. We also pass a house of the commander of the “Red Army” and the Orthodox Church. There is also the option of taking a day trip to the Ala Archa National Park, 40 km away. There is the possibility of a 4-5 hour hike from the “Ala-Archa” valley to the “Ratsek Hut” (3,300 m). Tonight we have our farewell dinner, which is rounded off with a folklore program. Last night in the hotel.

City tour or last hiking tour
Overnight in hotel
(B / L / D)

14th day:

Take farewell!

After breakfast we are brought to the airport and start our journey home to Europe. Hopefully, the many new experiences will enrich our everyday lives for a long time to come. Hopefully we will remember this beautiful country as unforgettable: Goodbye Kazakhstan – Goodbye, Kyrgyzstan!

(F / – / -)

Kazakhstan Travel Guide 4

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