Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan: Why we should revisit these pleasing lands of ancient kingdoms and snow-crested mountains


‘We indeed adore Borat, he’s funny. His film was fun!’ a beam 48-year-old Nazira Rakhmetova told us with a glimmer in her eye.

I had arrived in Kazakhstan, Borat’s home, with my crony Jane and we would after transport on to Kyrgyzstan.

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It was a 10-night whirlwind debate that enclosed a highlights of both countries and featured a reduction of cities and farming areas.

We seemed to be a usually western tourists around as we retraced portions of a aged Silk Road.

I would rarely suggest a revisit to these countries – your beautician won’t trust it when we tell her where you’re subsequent going on holiday.

Here are a few of my highlights:

The wackiest collateral city in a world?

Coloured lights of Song Fountain with Northern Lights skyscrapers and Bayterek Tower along executive highway (Nurzhol Bulvar) in new city core of Astana during twilight.
(Picture: Getty)

The debate started in Astana, that is around a six-and-a-half hour moody from London on Air Astana.

Many of us likened a city to Las Vegas, with an electric brew of dumb buildings set opposite a dry prosaic landscape.

The collateral – that became a collateral of Kazakhstan in 1997, given a some-more executive plcae – was in full construction mode as it’s set to horde this year’s World Expo.

The easy-to-navigate heart usually requires a integrate of days of sightseeing.

Must-visits embody a larger-than-life Khazret Sultan Mosque.

Inside a Khazret Sultan Mosque (Picture: Getty)
Inside a Khazret Sultan Mosque (Picture: Getty)

All of a women in a organisation were granted with gowns during a opening to approve with a Muslim dress code.

Another building value visiting is a Norman Foster designed pyramid-shaped Palace of Peace and Reconciliation.

Palace of Peace and Reconciliation
Palace of Peace and Reconciliation (Picture: Getty)

The building, that reminded me a small of a Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, facilities a garden in a roof. Bizarrely, half a plants are feign though it’s still visually pleasing.

The complicated stained potion panels with pacifist motifs were another engaging feature.

Peacing out

A post common by Located on a map somewhere 🌍 (@isleofsadie) on May 12, 2017 during 6:34pm PDT

Other beast pieces of design you’ll mark around a city embody a Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre (a hulk tent-like structure also designed by Norman Foster), the National Museum and a lollipop-shaped Bayterek Tower.

Relationship history

The story of a former soviet states is fascinating and ruins of a past still remain.

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were underneath soviet order until 1991, when they became independent.

The lollipop-shapedBayterek Tower
The lollipop-shaped Bayterek Tower (Picture: Getty)

Our beam explained that it’s taken years for a dual countries to get behind on their feet.

Indeed, we was told some of a comparison generations trust it was indeed improved in Soviet times, with giveaway homes and health caring provisions.

As we expostulate by both countries, you’ll mark a brew of Soviet-era art and statues.

A some-more grave sign of times left by is a Alzhir Museum, usually outward of Astana.

The building is on a site of a former Stalinist thoroughness stay for wives (and children) of purported nation traitors. It creates for a sobering visit.

Gorgeous countryside

After burdensome Astana, we flew to Bishkek, a collateral of Kyrzykstan.

My crony and we desired Bishkek, contrast a shaggy collateral to Buenos Aires. But pushing out into a panorama is where we found a genuine magic.

The thespian landscapes of Kyrgyzstan are guaranteed to impress, with sensuous fields shadowed by a snow-capped Tian Shan towering range.

Fluffy peaks

A post common by Located on a map somewhere 🌍 (@isleofsadie) on May 19, 2017 during 5:44pm PDT

The Jeti-Oguz ravine is value a visit, with a angled red sandstone cliffs imitative 7 charging bulls.

The Fairy Tale ravine is another fascinating place, with a charming sandy rocks weather-blasted into a operation of weird shapes – one frame resembles a widen of a Great Wall of China.

Treading a crevices pc: @jane_plane

A post common by Located on a map somewhere 🌍 (@isleofsadie) on May 22, 2017 during 6:34am PDT

We also packaged in some good hikes during the Barskoon gorge, with one holding us adult to a semi-frozen waterfall.

In Kazakhstan, a Sayram-Ugam inhabitant park is somewhere we could spend a whole day. Locals offering their picnics to us, with vodka to hand, and Jane and we got to float some horses after a eager travel adult to a cave.

On tip of a world

Unbeknownst to many, Kyrgyzstan is home to a world’s second top alpine lake, after Lake Titicaca in Peru.

Issyk-Kul is 113 miles long, and measures adult to 37 miles wide.

Kyrgystan, Lake Issyk-kul, Balykchy. Lake Issyk-kul with a Tien Shan operation to a south.
Lake Issyk-kul, Balykchy (Picture: Getty)

For dual nights, we stayed during a sprawling Karven Issyk-Kul resort, that boasts primary entrance to a waters, with a sandy beach, H2O slip and boating activities during a summer months.

Jane and we motionless to take a drop while there. Sauntering down to a water’s corner in a sauce gowns, we took a plunge.

The lake was unusually transparent and really poetic during around 4 degrees Celsius. None of a organisation assimilated us, though they gay in a shiver-inducing story.

Back to Kazakhstan for skiing

Zenkov Cathedral in Almaty (Picture: Sadie Whitelocks)
Zenkov Cathedral in Almaty (Picture: Sadie Whitelocks)

After several days in Kyrgyzstan, we flew to a south of Kazakhstan, alighting in Almaty.

While in a country’s former capital, we trafficked into a plateau where we detected a flattering large ski resort.

As it was summer, a rises during Shymbulak were closed, though there were dozens of hikers out and a restaurants and bars had a good buzz.


A post common by Located on a map somewhere 🌍 (@isleofsadie) on Jun 9, 2017 during 9:54am PDT

If we make it here, check out The Chalet, that is an Aladdin’s cavern meets Alpine Lodge. Think corpulent woods, wax-dripping candles and sheep hides galore.

I’m not a skier though we was told by a beam that Almaty is good place for winter activities, with a good volume of sleet by a winter (from Nov compartment May).

Stepping behind in time

From Almaty we gathering to Shymkent, to finish a debate with a brew of chronological sites.

Sheikh Khalifa al Nahyan Mosque, Shymkent, South Region, Kazakhstan, Central Asia
Sheikh Khalifa al Nahyan Mosque (Picture: Getty)

We visited Otrar, one of many ancient cities of Central Asia. The archaeological site is passable on feet – though beware of a annoying flies buzzing about.

In Turkestan, we stepped inside a incredible mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, that draws pilgrims from all over a world. Construction started in a 14th century and it is still being built today.

Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi (Picture: Sadie Whitelocks)

We also visited Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan, that is nicknamed a mill garden, and facilities about 2,000 petroglyphs dating from 800 BC to 1200AD.

The Burana Tower, nearby a city of Tokmok in northern Kyrgyzstan, also offers high views over a immature valleys to a plateau beyond.

A few things to know before we visit

Sleeping in a ‘Stans

All of a places we stayed in were purify and comfortable.

The swankiest place we stayed by distant was a Intercontinental in Almaty, where there are plush beds and a breakfast smorgasboard drizzling with juicy food.

At a other finish of a scale was a Grand Hotel in Shymkent. On a flip side, a place had a good executive location, that meant we could get out on feet and explore.

For a some-more authentic experience, a Green Yard in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan, had a poetic modest feel, with locally done cherry booze served during a accepting desk

Качественный завтрак, которому мы уделяем особое внимание, дарит хорошее настроение и задает прекрасное начало дня для наших гостей! Breakfast is a many critical plate of a day – carrying a juicy breakfast means a good approach to start a day! #hotel #karakol #breakfast

A post common by Green Yard Hotel Karakol (@greenyard.kg) on Jul 4, 2017 during 10:57pm PDT

Where to eat

All of a dishes on my debate with Saga were included.

The infancy of lunches and dinners consisted of 3 courses.

The initial image was roughly always a uninformed salad consisting of tomatoes, cucumber and crunchy leaves. For categorical we attempted a widespread of opposite things, including veal stews and uninformed kebab.

Baked goods

A post common by Located on a map somewhere 🌍 (@isleofsadie) on May 15, 2017 during 1:12am PDT

One of a many noted dishes took place in a inner woman’s residence in Karakol, a fourth largest city in Kyrzystan.

She invited us to try a palm during creation normal egg and flour noodles – identical to spaghetti – and it incited out we was a pro. While equine beef is a tack part in a ‘Stans, and we speckled tins of a things in supermarkets, we didn’t try any during a trip.

In Astana we would suggest attack Cafe Tselinnikov – a former cinema venue where we had kebabs served off a skewer – and Astana-Nury, that is located by a Ishim River.

In a eatery’s behind room, that was ornate with woven carpets – we had a plate that looked like a hulk pig pie. The membrane indeed contained proposal veal and rice, that was energetically churned adult and portioned out.

In Bishkek, a collateral of Kyrgyzstan, Frunze was one of a swankier restaurants we visited.

The currency

Kazakhstan uses a Kazakhstani tenge. Beer was around £2 and booze £4.

In Kyrgyzstan, where a Kyrgyzstani som is used, things seemed to be improved value for money.

In general, label payments were usually supposed in city areas, where ATM machines were also easy to find.

The weather

(Picture: Sadie Whitelocks)

It was cooler during a commencement of a trip, with a light sweater compulsory in Astana and some of a towering areas.

But as we ventured south, a heat shot up.

This area of a universe is flattering extreme, and a beam told us that in a summer, temperatures can transcend 50 degrees Celsius, while in a winter it drops 50 next freezing.

How to get there:

I trafficked to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan on Saga’s Where Steppe And Mountain Meet tour.

The whirlwind channel starts from £2,499 per chairman formed on double occupancy.

It includes approach flights from London Heathrow. All food and inner transfers are also included.

The itinerary certainly kept 29-year-old me and my crony Jane, 30, on a toes and we met an implausible brew of people.

Despite everyone’s age – some-more than double cave – we was astounded by a group’s stamina.

For those over 50s, I’d positively suggest this outing for something a bit dumb and wonderful.

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