Kazakhstan


Astana


Astana, the new capital city of Kazakhstan is a modern, planned city. It is located on the banks of the Ishim River in a vast area of steppe. The city is full of modern, even futuristic designed buildings which are an attraction in themselves. The city has numerous restaurants, entertainment areas and nightclubs.



Almaty


Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city was the capital until 1997. It is a lively, cosmopolitan city with a metro, numerous parks, museums, restaurants, clubs and bars. It is a very pleasant place to spend a few days. To get a great view of the city, take the cable car up to Kok-Tobe which is park on a hill above Almaty. Around Almaty, there are the towns of Medeu with it’s huge ice-rink and Chimbulak which hosts a winter sports centre. The mountains around Almaty make for excellent hiking.



Eastern Kazakhstan


The eastern region of Kazakhstan is little visited by tourists. The main city is Ust-Kamenogorsk. However there are some stunningly scenic areas in the Altai Mountains where bear, elk and wolves can be found.


Central Kazakhstan


Karaganda Province in central Kazakhstan  is not a big draw for tourists as it is mostly undulating steppe and has a number of industrial areas where metals and minerals are extracted. However, there are some scenically beautiful areas of the province such as Karkaraly and Lake Balkhash.


Western Kazakhstan


Western Kazakhstan comprises of the provinces of Mangistau, Atyrau, Aktobe and West Kazakhstan. Atyrau is the centre of Kazakhstan’s oil industry in the east. As such there are many expats and the bars and restaurants to cater for them. Aktau in Mangistau, has a similar feel. Along the coast of the Caspian Sea, there are plans to develop beach and entertainment resorts.


Southern Kazakhstan


Apart from Almaty, the other southern provinces of Kazakhstan comprise of Zhambyl, South Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda. Shymkent is the largest city in the south and was an important centre on the Silk Road. Close to Shymkent, is the Aksu Zhabagly Nature Reserve which is home to many rare species of plants and animals. The town of Turkestan houses the Khodja Ahmed Yassaui Mausoleum complex which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Around 50 Kms from Turkestan lies the ruins of Sauran, a Silk Road city with impressive walls. Many tourists come to the province of Kyzylorda to visit the Baikonur space launch facility where there are tours to visit the space museums, cosmodrome and launch pads.




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