Kazakhstan is a vast and diverse country located in Central Asia, and taking a road trip through this fascinating nation can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Here are some reasons why you should consider taking a road trip in Kazakhstan:
Firstly, Kazakhstan offers stunning natural scenery that is unlike anywhere else in the world. From the snow-capped peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains to the vast steppes and deserts, there is no shortage of breathtaking landscapes to explore. A road trip allows you to take in the beauty of the country at your own pace and on your own terms.
Secondly, Kazakhstan has a rich and unique culture that is worth exploring. The country is home to many different ethnic groups, each with their own traditions, music, and cuisine. A road trip allows you to experience the diversity of Kazakhstan firsthand, from the cosmopolitan city of Almaty to the traditional yurt camps of the countryside.
Thirdly, a road trip in Kazakhstan is an opportunity to learn about the country's history and heritage. Kazakhstan has a long and storied past, from the nomadic tribes that once roamed the steppes to the Soviet era and beyond. Many historic sites and museums offer a glimpse into this fascinating history, from the ancient petroglyphs of Tamgaly to the space museum in Baikonur.
Finally, a road trip in Kazakhstan allows you to meet friendly locals and experience the warmth of Kazakh hospitality. Whether you're staying in a guesthouse, eating at a local restaurant, or just stopping to ask for directions, you're likely to encounter people who are eager to share their culture and learn about yours.
Overall, a road trip in Kazakhstan is a great way to experience the country's natural beauty, culture, and history. With its wide-open spaces and friendly people, it's a journey that is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for this fascinating part of the world.
One of the most beautiful regions in the country is South Kazakhstan with a number of brilliant landmarks and interesting natural jewels. The snow-covered summits are juxtaposed with the desert-like landscapes. It is here that you can find the Singing Barkhan, a dune producing a unique singing sound.
Travellers choosing Kazakhstan as their holiday destination often fall in love with the beautiful capital, Astana. Here, you’ll find tourist attractions galore with such interesting venues as the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Khan Shatyr, and the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. The capital is a brilliant showcase of modern architecture that still maintains its traditional cultural depth.
Almaty is yet another urban jewel that cannot be missed. The country’s capital in the past, Almaty combines the best of two worlds – the mountains and the plains. It is the most important cultural, architectural, and economic hub of the region. The city will impress you with its beautiful fountains, green parks, and top-notch nightlife spots.
One of Kazakhstan’s most vibrant cities is surely Shymkent. The buzzing downtown is the right place to start your sightseeing. Check out the city’s lively bazaars, learn more about local culture in the Regional Museum of Southern Kazakhstan, or try some of the regional specialties at one of the traditional restaurants.
Let’s not forget about the northern recesses of the country. Northern Kazakhstan also hides plenty of natural gems that will make your heart melt. Dense forests, blue lakes, and towering hills will make a superb environment for the ls of outdoor activities. Karaganda and Burabay are among the greatest urban gems of the region.
Suggested road trips in Kazakhstan to consider:
Almaty to Charyn Canyon: This road trip takes you from Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, to the stunning Charyn Canyon, a natural wonder that rivals the Grand Canyon in scale and beauty. Along the way, you'll pass through the beautiful Ile-Alatau National Park, which offers stunning views of the Tien Shan Mountains. You can also stop in the historic town of Kegen, which was an important stop on the ancient Silk Road.
Astana to Lake Balkhash: This road trip takes you from the modern capital city of Astana to Lake Balkhash, one of the largest lakes in Central Asia. Along the way, you'll pass through the beautiful Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve, which is home to many rare bird species. You can also stop in the historic town of Karaganda, which played an important role in the Soviet era.
Nur-Sultan to the Caspian Sea: This road trip takes you from Kazakhstan's capital city of Nur-Sultan to the beautiful Caspian Sea, the largest lake in the world. Along the way, you'll pass through the stunning Kyzylarai Mountains and the picturesque town of Aktau, which is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. You can also stop at the ancient city of Turkestan, which is home to many historic sites and monuments.
Overall, these road trips offer a range of experiences, from natural beauty to cultural heritage to modern cityscapes. With its friendly people and stunning landscapes, Kazakhstan is a great destination for a road trip adventure.
In Kazakhstan, there exist areas which are closed to travellers without a special permission. These include Baykonur, Karmakchi and Kazalinsk districts, and the Gvardeyskiy urban-type village located in Almaty region. Apart from these locations, it is possible to reach many places in Kazakhstan by means of public transport. At your disposal, you’ll have buses, taxis, and trains. Many tourists also choose rental cars for a fuller and smoother travelling experience. These are mostly available in larger cities and at international airports.
Kazakhstan follows right-hand traffic system. That’s some consolation concerning the dire state of its roads. Apart from the poor conditions of most of country’s arteries, you may encounter one more hazard – traffic police. Police officers in Kazakhstan are infamous for taking bribes. Therefore, stick to the traffic regulations and road signs to avoid any situations that will allow the officers to stop you. Just try to pass any police vehicles extremely slowly. The standard bribe amounts to KZT 5000. Whenever you are stopped by the police, you’ve got the right to receive a ticket that should be paid on the nearest police precinct.
There is a very strict policy concerning drinking and driving. There is zero tolerance when it comes to blood alcohol level as Kazakhstan is a Muslim country. Driving after alcohol will always result in high penalties, including jail sentence. It is also forbidden to use mobile phones while driving so invest in a hands-free set.
The minimum driving age is 18; however, most car rental companies rent vehicles to motorists who are between 23 and 25 years of age. There’s high likelihood that you’ll be required to pay an additional fee for the fact that you’re a rookie driver.
Service stations are really scarce so make sure to take everything that you need for the trip. You should hire a vehicle that is well-maintained and in a condition enabling you to cover long distances.
Even though you won’t find regular speed cameras in Kazakhstan, there are plenty of mobile speed traps.
While travelling around Kazakhstan, you should carry an International Driving Permit as well as a proof of the obligatory third party insurance. Police officers may also ask you for the vehicle’s ownership documents.
The speed limits in Kazakhstan are as follows: 20 km/h in residential areas, 60 km/h in built-up areas, 90 km/h in rural areas, and 110 km/h on motorways.
Kazakhstan offers a wide choice of paid parking places in major cities. It’s advisable to use only reliable parking lots and avoid leaving your car in the street. Generally, it is allowed to stop your car on the right side of the street only. However, when it comes to residential areas, you can stop and park on the left side of the street.
When taking a road trip in Kazakhstan, there are several things to be aware of to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:
Road conditions: Some roads in Kazakhstan can be in poor condition, especially in rural areas. Be prepared for unpaved roads, potholes, and other hazards.
Weather conditions: Kazakhstan experiences extreme weather conditions, from hot summers to cold winters. Be prepared for unpredictable weather and plan your trip accordingly.
Language barrier: While many people in Kazakhstan speak Russian or English, there may still be a language barrier in some areas. It's a good idea to learn some basic phrases in Kazakh or Russian to communicate with locals.
Safety: Petty crime is a concern in some areas of Kazakhstan, so it's important to take precautions like locking your car and not leaving valuables in plain sight.
Fuel and supplies: Gas stations and other services can be few and far between in rural areas of Kazakhstan. Be sure to fill up your tank when you have the opportunity and stock up on supplies like food and water.
Navigation: GPS and other navigation systems may not be reliable in some areas of Kazakhstan. Be sure to bring a map and familiarize yourself with the route before you go.
Border crossings: If you plan to travel to neighboring countries from Kazakhstan, be aware of the requirements for border crossings and have all necessary documents and visas in order.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can enjoy a safe and rewarding road trip through Kazakhstan. It's also a good idea to research the specific route you plan to take and ask locals or travel experts for advice on any specific concerns.
The best time of year for taking a road trip in Kazakhstan depends on your preferences and interests, as the country experiences a range of weather conditions throughout the year. Here's a breakdown of the seasons and what you can expect:
Spring (March to May): Spring in Kazakhstan is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from cool to warm. The weather is ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and sightseeing, and you can expect to see wildflowers in bloom. However, some areas may still be snow-covered in early spring.
Summer (June to August): Summer is the peak season for tourism in Kazakhstan, as the weather is warm and sunny with little to no rainfall. This is a great time to explore the country's many natural attractions, from mountains to lakes to steppes. However, some areas can be hot and humid, and tourist crowds may be larger.
Fall (September to November): Fall is a beautiful time to visit Kazakhstan, with cooler temperatures and changing leaves. The weather is generally dry and sunny, and it's a great time to visit the country's many historic and cultural attractions. However, some areas may experience chilly temperatures and early snowfall.
Winter (December to February): Winter in Kazakhstan can be harsh, with cold temperatures and heavy snowfall in some areas. However, it's also a great time to experience winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing, and some of the country's cultural attractions may be less crowded. It's important to be prepared for cold weather and potentially hazardous driving conditions.
Overall, the best time to take a road trip in Kazakhstan depends on your interests and priorities. If you enjoy outdoor activities and sightseeing, summer and fall are great options. If you prefer cooler temperatures and winter sports, winter may be a better fit. Regardless of when you visit, be sure to check the weather forecast and road conditions before you go to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Sure, here are some popular guidebooks and road maps that you might find useful for planning your road trip in Kazakhstan:
Lonely Planet Central Asia: This guidebook covers all the major countries of Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, and provides detailed information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, and practical travel tips. It also includes suggested itineraries, maps, and cultural insights.
Bradt Guide Kazakhstan: This guidebook offers comprehensive coverage of Kazakhstan's major cities and regions, as well as practical information on travel logistics and cultural customs. It also includes maps, photos, and recommendations for dining, lodging, and sightseeing.
Kazakhstan Road Atlas: This atlas is designed specifically for road trips and covers the entire country of Kazakhstan. It includes detailed road information, tourist attractions, and suggested itineraries, as well as maps of national parks and other recreational areas.
Kazakhstan Travel Map: This map is provided by National Geographic and includes detailed information on roads, railways, and major attractions in Kazakhstan. It also features inset maps of major cities and national parks, making it a useful tool for planning your road trip.
Kazakhstan Insight Guide: This guidebook focuses on Kazakhstan's history, culture, and people, offering in-depth information on the country's past and present. It includes maps, photos, and recommendations for sightseeing and cultural experiences, as well as practical travel tips.
These are just a few examples of the many guidebooks and maps available for planning a road trip in Kazakhstan. Be sure to research and compare different options to find the ones that best suit your needs and preferences.