Amazing Kazakhstan Expedition (Borat Not Included) Oct 2018

Described as the world’s ‘weirdest capital city‘, the futuristic and utopian new capital of Astana was created from nothing and nowhere in the mid 1990s.

This is one of the most exciting tours we’ve yet offered – a ten-day tour of Kazakhstan, in mid October 2018, with an optional pre-tour in Kiev beforehand and an optional post-tour in Kyrgyzstan afterwards.

Here’s the day by day information about how we’ll spend our ten days in this very different country.  The main page detailing the tour is here.

The approximate route of our tour in Kazakhstan

Day 1 – Arrive in Astana (Wednesday 17 October)

Astana with the Presidential Palace in the background.
Today we’ll arrive into Astana (some of you will have also enjoyed the optional pre-tour in Kiev).  You’ll be transferred to a centrally located hotel upon arrival, and we’ll all meet up for a group welcome dinner this evening.

Included meals :  Dinner

Day 2 – Astana Touring (Thursday 18 October)

The KazMunayGaz building in Astana
We’ll see the sights of this modern city, and what incredible sights they are.  Possibly the most modern city in the world, with stunning architecture, open spaces, and uncrowded streets and parks.

We’ll admire the Khan Shatur Entertainment Center (a Norman Foster design), the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, the Bayterek Tower (we’ll go up to the viewing platform to see the city from its vantage point), the enormous Hazret Sultan Mosque, as well as, in pleasant contrast to the modernity, enjoy a peaceful stroll along the banks of the River Ishim.

You can choose from an abundance of excellent restaurants for dinner this evening.

Included meals :  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3 – Local Touring, Overnight Train Journey (Friday 19 October)

The Arch of Sorrow on an appropriately somber day at Akhmol
We travel out of Astana to the village of Akhmol and the Museum of the Camp for Wives of Traitors to the Motherland – a place that tells an interesting story of how women were sent to a gulag here when their husbands were persecuted.

We’ll travel around the settlement and village and remains of the former gulag, have lunch, then it’s all aboard for an afternoon and overnight train ride through the countryside.

Included meals :  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4 – Kurchatov Nuclear Test Site (Saturday 20 October)

Close to ground zero of the first Soviet atomic bomb explosion at Kurchatov
The train arrives early this morning into this formerly ultra-closed secret city.

We have an early morning check-in at our hotel (which is bizarrely owned by the Kazakh Institute of Atomic Energy) and time to freshen up before heading out to the Semipalatinsk Test Site, which is where the Soviets raced to catch up with the US and develop their own nuclear weapons.

We visit the museum there, then travel into the ‘Polygon’ testing zone and all the way to Ground Zero – the exact spot where the first ever Soviet nuclear bomb was detonated. Those who wish to travel all the way there will briefly don protective clothing.

We then travel to Chagan – once a very secret long-range bomber base, now abandoned, as is its adjacent garrison town, which was a bustling center for the base staff during the period 1954-1994. Nowadays it has a post-apocalyptic look to it.

Included meals :  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 – Kurchatov Region (Sunday 21 October)

Typical dilapidated ‘Sovet drab’ style housing in Kurchatov
Some more nuclear exploring today, going to the Atomic Lake in the Semipalatinsk Polygon area.  This lake was deliberately created by nuclear blasts, and now reaches depths of 600 ft.  Is it true that fishermen go there day and night, because of the nuclear glow it emits?  Come see for yourself.  We’ll experience a ‘roadside picnic’ (not what its name implies – here’s a fascinating explanation) and a local expert will explain some of the sights we see.

Returning back to Kurchatov, we’ll enjoy a walking tour of this city, now much smaller and less prosperous than it once was, and have a free evening.

Included meals :  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6 – Semey (Semipalatinsk) (Monday 22 October)

A mosque in Semey
We take a short two-hour train ride across the steppe to the city of Semey, far off the typical tourist routes, but – as you’ll discover – well worth a visit.

Once a prosperous trading city and gateway between China and Russia, the city has an interesting mix of architecture, statues and monuments.

We’ll visit the Dostoyevsky Museum (he was exiled to this city), the Fine Arts Museum, and the Stronger than Death Monument in the Tatar section of the town.

Included meals :  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7 – To Karagandy (Karaganda) (Tuesday 23 October)

A typical view of the steppes from the road or rail line
Today we drive to Ust-Kamenogorsk, where we’ll then take a flight to Karagandy. The flight itself is a highlight, because it will take us over assorted test sites, abandoned gulags, coal mines, and endless gently undulating grassed countryside.

We then have a walking tour of the city center of Karagandy, and will be staying at a hotel that is distinctive in the sense of being an archetypal ugly Soviet style hotel, although inside the rooms are comfortable and updated.  One part of the hotel was built especially for the visit of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.

Included meals :  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 -Touring around Karagandy, overnight train (Wednesday 24 October)

The pleasant city of Karaganda
Today we travel an hour out of Karagandy to the KarLag Museum, all about the gulags, and set in the former NKVD/KGB regional headquarters, with well-preserved gulag barracks making up the adjoining village.

We visit the nearby town of Shahtinsk for lunch and views of local industries – mainly coal mining but some steel production and agriculture too.

We have several choices of afternoon activities before returning back to Karaganda where we’ll take another overnight train, this time to Almaty.

Included meals :  Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9 – Almaty (Thursday 25 October)

The classic Russian Orthodox Ascension Cathedral in Almaty, built with no nails.
Almaty echoes some of the classical architecture of St Petersburg and Moscow.

If yesterday’s experiences were a bit sombre, today’s are more buoyant and light. We’ll even visit a chocolate factory, as well as some of the bazaars, pedestrian precincts, and parks, and even a ride on their metro – one of only two metros in central Asia (the other in Tashkent).

To further diversify our travel experiences, we’ll also ride a cable-car up a mountain overlooking the city, where we’ll see a statue of the Beatles. Of course – what else would you expect!  Other activities and amusements are also provided.

We’ll have a group farewell dinner up on the mountainside overlooking the city.

Included meals :  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 – Tour Ends or Option to Charyn Canyon and then on to Kyrgyzstan (Friday 26 October)

Charyn Canyon looks similar to the US Grand Canyon.

When this square in central Bishkek (Ala Too Square) was constructed in 1984, there was a statue of Lenin as its centerpiece.  It has now been replaced with a statue of the Kyrgyz folk hero, Manas.
Our formal tour ends today, and you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight onwards from Almaty.

However, if time (and budget) allows, we recommend you stay one extra day so as to experience one of the scenic wonders of Kazakhstan – the Charyn Canyon, and then possibly add another day or two to continue on to neighboring Kyrgyzstan, a surprisingly different country to Kazakhstan, where we’ll stay for one or two nights in the capital city of Bishkek.

Please click on to our page detailing the post-tour to Kyrgyzstan for more information on these options.


Included meals :  Breakfast


We hope you might choose to join us.  Please click here to return to the Main Triple K Tour Page and to register to participate.

Please also visit our master tours listing page for a complete listing of all currently scheduled
Travel Insider Tour opportunities.


2 thoughts on “Amazing Kazakhstan Expedition (Borat Not Included) Oct 2018”

  1. Pingback: Weekly Roundup, Friday 10 November, 2017 - The Travel Insider

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