The amazing landscapes of Charyn Canyon can be visited on a day trip from Almaty or included on the way to Kolsai and Kandy lakes. Charyn Canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon in the USA. 80km long and between 200 and 300 metres in depth, erosion and weathering have left bizarre shapes like fantastic sculptures and exposed the many colourful strata of the earth
Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan and its largest city, is situated at the foot of the northern Tien Shan ridge - Zaili Alatau. Almaty was one of the ancient cities on the Great Silk Road, but this modern and bustling leafy city has plenty of sights to visit, such as Panflilov Park, Zenkov Russian Cathedral and the busy Zelyony (Green) Bazzar.
Nur Sultan (Astana)
Nur-Sultan (previously known as Astana) has been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997. Located on the Ishim River, Nur-Sultan is a fascinating, ultra-modern city with futuristic-style buildings. During your stay you can enjoy a city tour to visit Nur-Astana - Central Asia’s largest mosque, the National Museum to see the ‘Golden Man’ and panoramic views from top of Baiterek Tower which opened in 2002.
Altyn Emel National Park
Altyn Emel National Park is a little-explored natural haven, where birds of prey soar over singing sand dunes and rare wildlife such as the Przewalski horse can be spotted on hikes. The Aktau Mountains are a must-see inside the park. This colourful maze of cliffs is a phenomenal sight, naturally painted in red, orange and white stripes following millions of years of erosion and weathering.
Aksu Djbaly Nature Reserve
Established in 1926, the Aksu Zhabagly Nature Reserve is the oldest in central Asia and protects part of the Talasky Alatau range of the western Tian Shan Mountains. This lovely area is famous for its wild tulips in spring and is popular with birdwatchers. It is also possible to see bear, marmot or wild mountain sheep.
Turkestan’s most famous attraction is the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yaswi – a poet and leading figure of the Sufism movement (a mystical sect of Islam). This World Heritage-listed mausoleum is considered to be one of Central Asia’s largest and best-preserved Timurid monuments. Our preferred accommodation, the Khanaka Hotel, is just steps away from the monument.
Kolsai & Kaindy Lakes
Kolsai Lakes is and alpine-esque national park bursting with natural beauty and is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Kazakhstan. Hiking past lofty spruce trees, forest-clad mountains and navy-blue lakes and the scenery will leave you in total awe. You could take a relaxing boat ride along the glittering teal waters of Lower Kolsai Lake which is fringed by sky-scraping emerald mountains.
Shymkent is located in the south of Kazakhstan near the Uzbek border, on a crossroads of the Great Silk Road. During a city tour of the main historical and cultural monuments, visit Memory Alley in Shanshi park, the History Museum, which is full of interesting facts about the local history of southern Kazakhstan, and the Ethnography Museum.