An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983
Sitting astride the crossroads of the world, Kazakhstan has long been a focal point for trade and communication in Central Asia. The history of cross-cultural exchange in the country has left Kazakhstan with a rich cultural landscape, with nomadic and pastoral cultural practices coexisting alongside the more cosmopolitan influences of Persia and Islamic Central Asia. Journey to Kazakhstan with Odyssey Traveller, and discover a land full of truly unique experiences.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Taxis are widely available in cities, and will perform intercity trips. Minibuses are also an option, with minibuses covering short to medium distance intercity routes. Trains are inexpensive, though it may be an idea to bring food with you for a long trip, as food options can be scarce on train journeys.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Kazakhstan is a mostly landlocked country, covering 2,724,800 square kilometers. A third of the country is comprised of the immense Kazakh steppe, the world’s largest steppe region. The Zailiyskiy Alatau and Tian Shan mountain ranges spring up in the south of the country, while the western edge of the country is bordered by the Caspian Sea.
Kazakhstan features a continental climate, with hot summers and freezing winters. Depending on the season you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World heritage sites
Kazakhstan has 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can view the official list of the sites here (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/kz). While every site is worth a look, here are a few highlights:
Tamgaly Petroglyphs, some 5,000 rock carvings which date back several centruies and depict the lifestyles and practices of the pastoral peoples of the area
The Silk Road Network of Chang’an Tianshan Corridor, the historic former trade network linking China to Central Asia
The Western Tian Shan, the towering mountains located in Kazakhstan’s south.
Festivals & Events
Along with other Central Asian nations, Kazakhstan celebrates Nauryz, the Persian ‘New Year’, in late March with festivals, dancing and singing. Victory Day, to commemorate the USSR’s triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II, is held on May 9 and is marked by military parades in every major city. As a Muslim majority country, Ramadan is observed in Kazakhstan, the end of which is celebrated with the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
Once in Kazakhstan: The Snow Leopard Emerges, by Keith Rosten
In Seach of Kazakhstan, by Christopher Robbins
An Illustrated History of Kazakhstan: Asia’s Heartland in Context, by Jeremy Tredinnick
Vanished Khans and Empty Steppes, by Robert Wight
Eating & Drinking
Meat has always been highly prized and valued in Kazakh culture. Beshbarmak, meaning ‘five fingers’, is the national dish of Kazakhstan, featuring boiled meat mixed with noodles and spiced with onion sauce. Shashlik is another popular dish, consisting of meat cubes and vegetables skewered and cooked over an open fire or a bed of coals. Dumplings and bread products are also prominent feature of the national diet, and include baursak (balls of fried dough) and shelpek (a traditional flatbread). Beverages are generally consumed with meals in Kazakhstan, with kumys (fermented mare’s milk) often enjoyed at the end of a meal. Tea is also widely consumed in Kazakhstan, with chai and black tea amongst the most popular types of tea in the country.
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Kazakhstan is safe to travel around, though always exercise common sense while travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adapter. Kazakhstan operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz. Kazakhstan uses both the Type C and Type F plug, so be sure you have an adapter handy as needed.
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi
Big Almaty Lake
Responsible travel tips for Albania
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of lekë in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of tenge in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.