Kazakhstan is a resplendent and majestically beautiful country in Central Asia. It is vast and you can enjoy road trips, backpacking, hiking, and other adventures in this timeless country for days on end. The people are very warm and hospitable and the country itself is full of amazing sites and attractions like the brilliant capital city itself.
The capital city is called Nur-Sultan and you have other places like Almaty, Charyn Canyon, Kolsai Lakes, Altyn-Emel National Park, Kaindy Lake, Turkestan, and others too numerous to even mention but you will find each mesmerizing. Kazakhstan is a place for everyone to visit. This is particularly true of those who love exciting voyages and will want to engage in a trip that will give you lifetime memories.
This itinerary is going to assist you in providing all the details that you need for your road trip across this massive nation that has thrilled travelers for centuries. You need to know which places to stay, what activities to engage in, and other beneficial tips.
You can choose to do your road trip with your car or you rent a vehicle with a local driver if you can afford it. Not many people know about Kazakhstan but those who have visited this charming country will tell you that they will visit again if given the chance.
You can choose to start your trip from Almaty or the capital city of Nur-Sultan (formerly known as Astana) because those areas are best for you as starting points. This road trip itinerary will cover one week of travel by car and rail. Kazakhstan has extensive railways and you should take advantage of them.
Day 1, 2, and 3: Get to Kazakhstan and tour Nur-Sultan or Almaty
Kazakh cities are known for their breathtaking beauty, impressive architecture, and unforgettable scenes. Checking out the capital city of Nur-Sultan with its futuristic buildings will leave you amazed and super thrilled.
There are lots of coffee cafes, clubs, European restaurants, huge shopping malls, local restaurants, and countless green parks that stretch farther than your eyes can see. You will be pleasantly surprised by sites like the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, Ishim River, Palace of Peace and Reconciliation (also known as the Pyramid of Peace), Khazret Sultan Mosque (which is the biggest in all of Central Asia), Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall and many others.
- Where You Can Stay in Nur-Sultan
If you arrive in Nur-Sultan, there is an impressive array of luxury hotels where you can stay and these include the towering Kazzhol, elegant Park Inn, posh Hilton Garden Inn, or Radisson Astana. You can also go to local inns and guest houses depending on the budget you have.
- Things to Do in Nur-Sultan
This city is the very heart of Kazakhstan and there is more than enough for you to do when you are there. You can sail on the Ishim River if the weather is good but there are other amazing places that you can explore and these include:
- Baiterek: This observation tower and monument is the most popular attraction for tourists and locals and it is seen as the emblem of the city itself.
- Akorda: It is the huge residence of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. You need to take some photos here for bragging purposes with your friends.
- Khan Shatyr: It is the biggest shopping and entertainment center in the city and is also seen as the biggest tent on the planet. You can also choose to shop at any of the local markets.
What to Eat in Nur-Sultan
Kazakhs are known for their mind-blowing delicacies and you will fall in love with the local foods. All restaurants have the legendary besbarmak, plov (a rice-based dish with lots of meat and vegetable), and Lagman for your appetite. You can also try out Uzbek and even Uighur dishes.
Day 4: Commence Your Road Trip to Kazakhstan
Take an overnight bus or rail to Almaty and start your trip there. This is a very big country and you should be ready for long rides. Stock up with enough food and water alongside copious volumes of fuel in your vehicle tank.
You commence your road trip in the southeastern portion of the country and cruise across the area called Zhetisu which stretches from Almaty to Lake Balkhash. You are going to see many rivers in this area and other natural attractions like the Kolsai Lakes, Altyn-Emel National Park, and the Charyn Canyon. Everything in this area is called the Golden Triangle.
Your first stop is at the Altyn-Emel National Park and it is about 300 kilometers to the north of Almaty. If your driver has a permit, things will be a lot easier for you. It is a vast national park that is 4,600 square kilometers in size and it is full of exotic, endangered, and rare animal and plant species.
Day 5: Explore the Singing Dune in the Altyn-Emel National Park
This is a continuation of your tour of the iconic national park. This dune is named such because of the sound that emanates from the dunes. It sounds like a plane whenever the weather is dry and windy. You can climb to the very top of the dune which peaks at a height of 150 meters.
Day 6: Head to the Kaindy Lake
From the park, you drive past the gorgeous Charyn Canyon and head to the Kaindy Lake. This is one of the most beautiful lakes you will ever see. You will pay a token before you enter the site though but the deep turquoise waters are worth it.
Day 7: Storm Turkestan and Return to Astana (Nur-Sultan)
You can take a train directly to Turkestan if you returned to Almaty. In Turkestan, you are going to see some of the most revered and holy sites in the country like the charming mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. From there you head to Astana (Nur-Sultan) for some relaxation and more touring. By the time you are done, you will be left with memories that will last you for life.