Best of Almaty Region

Highlights of Kazakhstan

Join us to explore Kazakhstan’s dramatic landscapes and diverse cityscapes!

Days

7

Price

€1580

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12

Countries: Kazakhstan

Route:

  • Almaty
  • Altyn Emel
  • Charyn Canyon
  • Kaindy and Kolsay Lakes
  • Almaty

Themes: Cultural Tours

Almaty is Kazakhstan’s largest city and cultural heart. This charming green city is a perfect gateway in Kazakhstan. However, the highlight of this trip is not so much the city itself, but rather the natural wonders which surround it. Almaty Region is the most popular travel destination in Kazakhstan, and for good reason. The mighty landscapes will capture your imagination. From vividly painted canyons to alpine lakes and juniper forests on mountain slopes, the diverse countryside offers some amazingly varied scenery. On this one-week tour you will be awed by the scale and magnificence of Kazakhstan’s natural environments.

highlights

  • Tour vibrant Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city and cultural heart
  • Take the gondola to the top of Shymbulak, Almaty’s extensive skiing area
  • Experience the hustle and bustle of Green Bazaar, Almaty’s largest and liveliest market
  • Watch Kazakh horse games and experience nomadic culture first-hand
  • Be wowed by the scale of Charyn Canyon
  • Explore Altyn Emel National Park with its impressive geological formations
  • and the curious singing dune
  • Visit the stunning Kolsay and Kaindy Lakes surrounded by mountains

ITINERARY & MAP

Zenkov Kirche in Almaty, Kasachstan

Welcome to Kazakhstan! Most of the flights arrive early in the morning. Transfer to the hotel for immediate check-in. Have a rest after the long flight and then breakfast. Meet your fellow travelers and your guide in the late morning.

Welcome to Kazakhstan! Most flights arrive early in the morning. You will transfer to the hotel for immediate check-in. Have a rest after your long flight and then enjoy breakfast. You’ll meet your fellow travelers and your guide in the hotel lobby at noon to go for lunch, followed by a relaxed half-day city tour of Almaty.

Almaty was the Kazakh capital until 1997 and  it is still the largest city in Kazakhstan. Its name translates as “the place of apples” as it is believed that this is the place where apples first grew. Almaty is a charming and green city, with wide, tree-lined roads. The Zailisky Ala-Too Mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the city.

First you will take a cable car to reach one of the main landmarks of Almaty, the Shymbulak ski resort, where you will enjoy wonderful views of the Ili Alatau Mountains. On the way to the ski resort you will pass the legendary Medeo skating rink. It is located in the picturesque Medeo Gorge at an altitude of 1,600 m and it is one of the largest and highest ice rinks in the world. Another cable car will bring you to the top of the ski resort (3,200 m). It will be a bit cold and windy, so make sure you bring a warm jacket. After enjoying the mountains views, you’ll drive back to the city for lunch and a short city tour.

Panfilov Park, which is named after World War II General Panfilov. An impressive monument has been erected in the center of the park in honor of Panfilov’s division. Almaty’s most famous sight, the wooden Zenkov Cathedral built in 1904, is situated in Panfilov Park as well.

At Green Bazaar, you will have the chance to experience local Kazakh culture as you shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. After the market, you will take the cable car to Kok Tobe, a hilltop overlooking the city which offers panoramic views.

Overnight in the Novotel (4*) or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Breakfast will be at the hotel. Today you will immerse yourself in Kazakh culture, learning about traditions and rituals in the Huns ethno-village, about one hour’s drive from Almaty.

On arrival you’ll be welcomed by hostesses greeting you with a national ritual called Shashu. It involves showering guests with sweets, as Kazakhs do during wedding ceremonies. The sweets must be picked up and kept, as Kazakhs believe they will bring good luck in the future.

At Huns you will learn how to bake puffy Kazakh bread, see the construction of a Kazakh yurt, and be a spectator at performance of national horse games. The games include Jigitovka (horseback riding with acrobatic elements), Atpen audaryspak (jostling and pushing a rival whilst on horseback) and Kyz kuu, where a boy chases a girl on horseback. If he catches her he will be rewarded with a kiss; but if he fails, she can lash him! After the show you will have a delicious lunch of national cuisine.

In the afternoon, you will drive a bit further to Issyk, a postcard-perfect mountain lake at an altitude of 1,756 m above sea level, which is located within a gorge of the same name. Lying along the Kuldja tract, where hundreds of years ago merchants’ caravans passed through, the gorge is atmospheric and visually striking. You will then drive back to Almaty in time for dinner.

Overnight in the Novotel (4*) or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Your guide and driver will meet you in the hotel lobby at 9 am to drive to Altyn-Emel National Park. You will arrive in the park in time for lunch.

The first place to visit is so-called Singing Dune, tuned up in the middle of the steppe. It rises about 150 m and stretches for a distance of 2-3 km. How did sand dunes appear in the vast steppe? How does this dune make its  organ-like song? Your guide will explain all! If you have never climbed a dune before, now is your chance. Here you will have plenty of time for hiking, taking magnificent photos, and enjoying the amazing panoramic views.

In the evening you will drive to your hotel in the village of Basshi and have dinner.

Overnight in the simple Altyn Emel Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In the early morning you will have breakfast at the hotel. It is then time to depart for the Aktau Mountains, a natural museum of the Earth’s distant past. Fantastically-shaped natural sculptures rise from the bottom of an ancient sea in all the colors of the rainbow, from the pale blue of the lunar landscape to red mountains. These mountains are 30 km long, 1.5-2 km high, and 400 million years old. The drive from the hotel to the mountains will take around 1.5 hours. On arrival you will unpack a delicious picnic lunch and enjoy it on the side of the mountain.

The next place you will visit is the incredible Katutau Mountains, which were formed from lava and associated volcanic rocks. Time, water, and the sunlight have created intricately weathered rock formations here. Snap photos as your guide explains the origin of such a fanciful landscape and then drive back to your hotel.

Overnight in the simple Altyn Emel Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Early breakfast will be served in Basshi. There is then a long and exciting day in front of you. After 2.5 hours of driving you will arrive at the Bestamak and Moon Canyon part of the Charyn Canyon. You’ll descend to see amazing stone architecture and have a picnic on the bank of the Charyn River.

After spending around three hours in the canyon you will leave and drive to Satty, which is the closest village to the lakes. The main attraction here is the unusual and mysterious Kaindy Lake (Birch Lake), which is located at an altitude of 2,000 m above sea level.

Kaindy Lake formed as the result of a huge landslide after a powerful earthquake in 1911. The landslide blocked the river and the water flooded the valley. That is which  Tien Shan fir trees appear out in the middle of the lake. The water is very cold, so the needles of the flooded trees are well preserved and clearly visible beneath the transparent surface. The dry tree trunks stand like towers. It is impossible to describe in words mystical splendor of this lake – it is necessary to go there and see everything with your own eyes.

In the evening you will leave Kaindy lLke and drive to Satty, where a hearty dinner will await you at the hotel.

Overnight in a simple hotel near Saty
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today you are able to choose from two options.

Active option: If you would like to challenge yourself with a mountain hike, get up early and you will drive to the first Kolsai Lake (15km, 30 min) and start hiking to the second lake. Hiking takes around three hours to get up and two hours to go down (16 km in total). You will start hiking at 7:00 am and will return to the starting point around 1:00 pm.

Comfortable option: After a leisurely breakfast, enjoy some free time in the village before driving to the first Kolsai Lake (15 km, 30 min). Here you will be able to admire the mountain scenery and take a boat ride. If you don’t mind the cold water you can also have a bracing swim!

Everybody will rendezvous for a picnic lunch at the first Kolsai Lake and we will then drive back to Almaty (c. 4 hours) in the afternoon. Here there will be a farewell dinner.

Overnight in the Novotel (4*) or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

departure passport with stamps

Individual transfers to the airport will be scheduled according to the departure time of your flight.

Meals: Breakfast

Inclusions

Transport
Airplane, Foot, Minivan
Meals
7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (7 nights, incl. early check in on day 1)
Included Activities
  • Almaty – City Tour
  • Walk on singing sand dune in Altyn Emel National Park
  • Walk in Charyn Canyon
  • Hike at Kolsay Lakes
  • Walk to Kaindy Lake
  • Visit ethno-village Hunns
Download PDF

dates & price

You can choose to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or book a private tour on the date of your choice
*
*
*
Total trip price

€1580

Euro

7

Days

Single supplement available for €300

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
27 May 2023
2 Jun 2023
+ Available
22 Jul 2023
28 Jul 2023
+ Available
26 Aug 2023
1 Sep 2023
+ Available
Price includes
  • Transfers in a comfortable vehicle with A/C, including airport collection and drop-off
  • Accommodation based on two people sharing a double/twin room, including early check-in on Day 1
  • Full board (all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners)
  • English-speaking local tour leader throughout the whole trip
  • All entry fees and activities as per the itinerary
Price does not include
  • International air fares to and from Kazakhstan
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Consular fees for tourist visas (if applicable)
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses (e.g. souvenirs)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tips for guide and drivers (optional)

Important notes

  • Citizens of most countries can visit Kazakhstan visa-free
  • All listed departures are guaranteed
  • The maximum group size is 16 people
  • One English-speaking local tour leader will accompany the group for the whole trip
  • You can opt to book this itinerary as a private tour. We can also arrange extra nights before or after the trip, and suggest private tour extensions in Kazakhstan or neighboring countries.
  • A €500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and the balance is due 15 days prior to departure. Terms and conditions: https://kalpak-travel.com/terms-and-conditions/.
  • Travel insurance is required
  • We are happy to suggest flights to get to Kazakhstan and back home: please contact us

KAZAKHSTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Kazakh currency is called the Tenge (KZT). The banking system in Kazakhstan is the most developed in Central Asia and in big cities there are many places to exchange money and to withdraw cash from ATMs using a variety of cards. We recommend bringing some cash in new USD bank notes of denominations of at least 20 USD. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with a credit card is still not possible at most places, except for high-end restaurants, hotels and international stores like Zara, Mango, McDonalds or Starbucks. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Kazakhstan is a multi-ethnic country with a long history of tolerance. Guests and locals are treated with respect and the whole country can be regarded as a very safe destination for travelers. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and take only official taxis. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Kazakh partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most Western countries do not need a visa for a stay of up to 15 days in Kazakhstan. To be sure whether you need visa or not you can check on the website of The Visa Machine. Any permits you might need for access to places that will be visited during your tour, we will provide for you free of charge.
As soon as we receive the deposit payment for your tour, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Kazakhstan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Kazakhstan is continental and dry in the majority of the country, including the largest cities. Summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius and winters extremely cold with strong winds. In the mountains, however, the weather is quite changeable. If you are planning to visit the mountains the best season is summer. Be aware, however, at high altitudes of 3000 meters or more it may even snow overnight during the summer. For cultural sightseeing tours, spring and autumn are the best seasons. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveller’s diarrhoea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Kazakhstan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Kazakhstan are basic at best.

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