Kazakhstan Odyssey

Kazakhstan

Culture

Vast steppe landscapes, traditional culture and eagle hunters!

7 days £1,295 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

The most economically advanced of the Stans, Kazakhstan is an enigmatic amalgamation of modernity and tradition. Discover the world’s largest landlocked country, beginning in the glittering capital of Astana. Marvel at its futuristic architecture, including the spectacular Astana-Baiterek Monument. Pay your respects at Alzhir’s memorial complex and museum, reflecting on Stalin’s repressive reign. Take a boat ride along the Ishim River. Travel the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains to Almaty to visit the Central State Museum. The highest skating rink in the world boasts panoramic views of the city and the mountains from Kok-Tobe hill. Descend the red sandstone cliffs of Sharyn Canyon and immerse yourself in traditional Kazakh culture with the golden eagle breeders of Nura Village. This tour is a truly fascinating insight into an ever-developing, yet little-visited, landscape in the heart of Central Asia.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • The striking Astana-Baiterek Monument
  • Learn about the dark past of Stalin's rule in Alzhir
  • Enjoy a boat ride along the Ishim River
  • Discover Kazkhstan's rich history in Almaty's Central State Museum
  • Beautiful panoramic views from Kok-Tobe
  • Impressive rock formations at Sharyn Canyon
  • Meet local Kazakh families in Nura village

Places Visited

Astana - Almaty - Sharyn Canyon

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Domestic flights (Astana - Almaty)
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival into Astana

Arrive in Astana where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the day is free at your leisure. Overnight in Astana. 

Meal plan: n/a

Formally known as "Akmola", Astana was founded in 1830. Due to its central location, it was later made Kazakhstan's capital instead of Almaty. This prompted a name change, as "Astana" means "capital" in the Kazakh language.

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Day 2 : Astana

Today you will visit some of the main sites of Astana, including the National Museum, Mosque of Hazret Sultan,  the Astana-Baiterek Monument, the Temple of Peace and EXPO centre area. Overnight in Astana.

Meal plan: Breakfast

National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the largest museum in Central Asia, it covers 74,00 square metres and has nine floors. It includes halls such as the Hall of Gold, Hall of Anicent and Medieval History and Halls of Modern Art. It is a spectacular cultural institution with unique architecture. 

The 100-metre-tall Astana-Baiterek Monument was constructed and opened in 2002. Kazakh legends speak of Baiterek being the 'Tree of Life', where the holy bird of happiness laid a golden egg at the top of this tree. Depicted by a large glass ball at the top of the tower, the egg is believed to symbolise the sun, life and happiness.

The Temple of Peace, also known as the 'Pyramid of Peace and Accord', consists of five separate triangles which represent the telling of different stories. Since its construction it has predominantly functioned as accommodation for the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. It has become known as the place where different cultures, traditions and nationalities coexist in peace.

Located in the capital of Kazakhstan is the largest mosque in Central Asia, Hazret Sultan. The dome reaches an astonishing 51 metres in height and the mosque can accommodate up to 10,000 people. The mosque houses traditional Kazakh ornaments and boasts a classical Islamic style. It is utilised for weddings, bathing rituals and Koran readings. Its 80 metre spire was built to face towards Mecca, the holiest city in the Islamic religion.  

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Day 3 : Astana - Almaty

In the morning, transfer to Alzhir and visit the Museum of Victims of Political Repressions. Drive back to Astana and after lunch, take a boat ride along the Ishim river. Later, visit the Khan Shatyr centre. In the evening, transfer to the airport for your flight to Almaty. On arrival, transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Almaty. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Alzhir was once the biggest concentration camp in the USSR for those deemed traitors, their wives and their children. The camp closed in 1953, the year of Stalin's death, and a memorial complex and museum were opened here in 2007 to commemorate those who died. 

The Ishim River runs through Kazakhstan and Russia. It is frozen from November until March, when temperatures can fall to as low as -40C. For generations, Kazakh fishermen have practised the traditional skill of ice fishing here to feed themselves and their families. 

The Khan Shatyr (or "Royal Marquee") is an entertainment centre built in Astana in 2006. It was the second national project designed by UK architect Norman Foster, who also constructed Astana's Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. Set in a 150-metre-high transparent tent with an area larger than 10 football stadiums, it contains numerous shopping and entertainment facilities, including a boating river, mini golf and even an indoor beach resort.

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Day 4 : Almaty

In the morning, proceed on a visit to the Central State Museum. Later, explore the Republic square, Abai Opera and Ballet Theatre, Central Mosque and the Green Market. Proceed to the President Residence and Independence Monument in Republic Square before exploring the Museum of National Musical Instruments, where you can see the instruments of well-known Kazakh composers. Finally, visit the Zenkov Cathedral. Overnight in Almaty.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Almaty, formerly known as 'Alma-Ata', is the largest city in Kazakhstan. It is located in the foothills of the Trans-lli Alatau mountain and has become the major commercial and cultural hub for the country. 

The Central State Museum in Almaty was originally housed within the former Almaty Cathedral when it opened in 1931. In 1985, a new structure was constructed to properly exhibit the rich history of Kazakhstan. It presents the history of Kazakhstan across four exhibition halls, from the Bronze Age to contemporary times. Exhibits include an archaeological gold collection, ethnographic displays of yurts and exotic costumes, and information on Kazakhstan's many ethnic groups during the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Almaty's Republic Square was constructed in 1980 and was used throughout the rule of the Soviet Union as a place for mass demonstrations, celebrations, festivals and military parades. It was also the site of the infamous 1986 uprising known as Jeltoqsan that occurred in protest over the dismissal of the Kazakh Soviet leader Kunayev.

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Day 5 : Almaty

Enjoy an excursion to the famous skating rink of Medeu. After, continue up the meandering mountain road of Kok-Tobe and observe the highest TV tower in the world. Later, walk down the meandering lanes before going to see The Beatles Monument. The afternoon is free at your leisure. Overnight in Almaty.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Medeu is an outdoor speed skating rink situated at an elevation of 1,691 metres above sea level in the Medeu mountain valley. It has become known as the highest skating rink in the world. 

The hill of Kok-Tobe towers over the city of Almaty. Standing at 1,100 metres above sea level it provides panoramic views across the city and surrounding mountains. 

Found on the Kok-Tobe hill standing near Almaty Tower, the Beatles Monument was created in 2007 by artist Eduard Kazaryan in celebration of the universal appeal of the British band. Cast in bronze, it the first monument to depict all four members in full. 

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Day 6 : Almaty - Sharyn Canyon - Almaty

After breakfast, drive along a picturesque road via many villages to Sharyn Canyon. Descend the canyon on a short walk by Sharyn River. Return to Almaty, visiting Nura village en route. Here you can meet a family who have been breeding golden eagles for hunting for generations. If time permits, visit a small museum in the village and learn about the history of Kazakhstan's birds of prey. Overnight in Almaty. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Sharyn Canyon lies in the open plains of Almaty. The red sandstone was cracked open and enlarged by the Sharyn River. After many years of weathering and erosion, the striking canyon and its impressive rock formations were formed. Visitors can walk, raft and take jeep tours through the distinct landscape.

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Day 7 : Departure from Almaty

In the morning transfer to the airport for your departure flight home or onwards destination.

Contact us to arrange further extensions to Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Extensions

Journey Through The 4 Stans (18 days)

History and landscapes of the Stans beyond Uzbekistan

Kazakhstan Odyssey (7 days)

Vast steppe landscapes, traditional culture and eagle hunters!

Five Stan Odyssey (30 days)

Get under the skin of all five 'Stans'