I Am in Love with Kazakhstan and This Is Why You Should Plan a Trip Here Too

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My recent trip to Central Asia was an incredible experience. You know how those gorgeous lakes and mountains you see in Windows wallpaper?

Well, that is how Kazakhstan is in real life. It is filled with mesmerising canyons, lakes, meadows, and so much more.

And the best thing about this place is that the people here are super sweet and helpful as well. So, when you visit this country, you will never feel out of place here.

10 amazing places to visit in Kazakhstan for the best experience

Here are a list of places which made me fall in love with this country and will do the same for you too!

Charyn Canyon

One of my top favourite places to visit in Kazakhstan, Charyn Canyon looks just like the Grand Canyon of USA. So, if you've always wanted to go there but found it too expensive to do so, then this is your chance.

This canyon comes under the Charyn Canyon National Park which is around 154 km long and is situated next to the Charyn river. This area has been formed by 12 million years of sand, wind, and water. As a result, you will observe all kinds of shapes and colour shades here, ranging from light brown to dark red.

Valley of Castle, Charyn Canyon.

Photo of Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan by Rachita Saxena

Charyn Canyon.

Photo of Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan by Rachita Saxena

Honestly, if you want to observe nature's magic then this is one of the best places to visit. Camp beside the Charyn river and observe a clear, starry night.

I can bet that it will turn out to be your best camping experience till date.

Best Time to Visit: May - September (Summer Season)

How to Visit: To reach here, you will need to take a shared taxi from Sahayat Bus Station in Almaty. You will find shared taxis going to Kegen which will drop you off at Valley of Castles on the way.

It will cost around 1500 - 2000 Tengge (300 - 375 INR) per person in the shared taxi.

Kolsai Lakes

Another amazing place in Kazakhstan which made me fall in love with this country is the Kolsai Lakes. Three alpine lakes nestled in the Kolsai National Park, Kolsai Lakes look quite dreamy and magical.

While reaching the first lake is easy, you need to hike to the other two lakes which makes it secluded and more peaceful than Kolsai Lake 1. But the thing which I loved the most about these lakes is how they were surrounded by conifer trees and reflected off a shimmering blue color.

So, if you love adventures, then do visit Kolsai Lake. Camping beside the lake and hiking to the other lakes is just the kind of adventure which you will never forget!

Best Time to Visit: June - September

How to Visit: If you rent a car, then you can reach the Saty village which is around 6-hours from Almaty. From there, it is another 10-15 km to the Kolsai National Park entrance gate.

On the other hand, if you are taking a shared taxi, then you will need to find one going to Kegen. You can get a shared taxi from Sahayat Bus Station in Almaty for 2000 Tengge (375 INR) per person. The taxi will drop you off near the Saty intersection from where you need to hitchhike or get another taxi.

The cost of reaching Saty from here is 1000 - 1500 Tengge. And the cost to reach Kolsai National Park from here is 2000 Tengge.

Big Almaty Lake

Big Almaty Lake. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Big Almaty Peak, 3681m, Kazakhstan by Rachita Saxena

Another one of my favorite places in Kazakhstan, Big Almaty Lake is quite close to the Almaty city and is one of the easiest places to reach as well. But why should you visit this place?

Well, because this lake gives off the most beautiful shade of blue and green colors. A part of the Tien Shan mountain ranges, Big Almaty Lake is one of the best places for a short drive from Almaty.

And if you are interested in hiking, then you can also head to the Big Almaty peak which offers you an amazing view of the surrounding mountains and forests.

And you will see a different water color depending on when you are visiting. I was here for a month so the first time I visited, the lake was completely frozen. But just after 2 weeks, it had completely melted and had a milkish-blue color which looks quite mesmerizing.

Best Time to Visit: May to September

How to Visit: You can take a Taxi for a return trip from Almaty to here for 10000 Tengge. This is a good idea when you are traveling in a group. If you are traveling solo, then take the Bus number 28 from First President's Park. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the park entrance.

From here, it is another 10-15 km to the lake which you can cover by taking a taxi or hitchhiking.

Another option would be to take a group tour which will take you to the lake, Big Almaty peak, and a few other nearby points.

Lake Issyk

Another wonderful place that will make you forget about all other countries is the Lake Issyk. Formerly known as Zhasil-kol, this lake is a part of the Esik region and is fed by the Issyk river.

A turquoise colored lake which is just 70 km from Almaty, Lake Issyk is quite popular because of how it was created. The lake was formed after an earthquake created a dam in a valley which was around 300-meters high.

What I liked the most about this lake is how secluded it is. And it is not that difficult to reach as well.

It makes a good picnic spot in the summers so you can easily spend an entire day here!

Best Time to Visit: May - September

How to Visit: You can easily drive here by renting a car. If that is not an option then you can get a shared taxi to Esik and then take a cab from Esik to the lake. It will cost around 250 Tengge for the shared taxi from Almaty to Esik and another 2000 Tengge for the cab to Esik Lake and back to the city.

Turkestan

Turkestan. Picture Credits: Rachita Saxena

Photo of Turkestan, Kazakhstan by Rachita Saxena

If you love architecture then this is one place that you cannot skip. Turkestan is a beautiful, secluded city near Shymkent which is quite popular for its man-made creation: the Yasaui Mausoleum.

So, if you are heading to Shymkent, make sure you attend this beautiful city. I swear, sitting beside this mausoleum is one of the most amazing feelings ever. You feel so peaceful and calm and you end up talking to many locals as well!!

Best Time to Visit: May - September

How to Visit: You can take a shared taxi to Turkestan from Shymkent bus station. It will cost around 1000 Tengge per person to reach here.

Shymkent

Photo of Shymkent, Kazakhstan by Rachita Saxena

Although there is not a lot of things to Shymkent, it is quite my favorite. Why?

Because they enjoy a laid back life which you won't see happening in Almaty. There are amazing themed parks where you can venture out at night and enjoy some time at. And there are many other monuments, lakes, etc. here as well which is a great way to pass time.

Photo of I Am in Love with Kazakhstan and This Is Why You Should Plan a Trip Here Too by Rachita Saxena

And if you are into history then head to Sayram which is just 20 km from Shymkent. One of the oldest cities of Kazakhstan, this is where the first mosque in Kazakhstan was built as well.

Best time to visit:

May - September

How to visit: 

You can take a train from Almaty to Shymkent. In Shymkent, you will find buses going to most of the popular locations including Sayram.

Altyn Emel National Park 

Photo of Altyn Emel National Park, Науаи көшесі, Алматы, Kazakhstan by Rachita Saxena

Mars on Earth. That is the only way I can describe this amazing, unique place to you. And frankly, it is one of the hardest one to visit as well if you are on a budget.

I honestly don't know how we made it to this place but it take all of our determination and patience. But boy, was it worth it! The minute I set foot in this place I felt like I was on a different planet. And guess what, not many locals know about this place as well!

So, if you want a completely out of the world experience then make sure you include Altyn Emel National Park in your Kazakhstan trip.

Best time to visit:

May - September

How to visit: 

You can join a group to Altyn Emel National Park or drive a rental car here. You can also hitchhike but it is going to be a long journey.

Another unique destination that you cannot miss out on is the Kaindy Lake. This 400-meter long lake is located near Kolsai Lakes and is at an altitude of 6,600 ft.

One of the most interesting things about this lake is that it formed due to a landslide in this area. As a result, it formed a sort of dam, blocking the gorge and got filled up with mountain water soon.

But the thing which you will notice the most about this lake is that has submerged trees inside so it is popularly known as the 'sunken forest'. Since the water is cold, the trees don't rot and are now covered with algae and other water plants.

Best time to visit: 

June - September

How to visit: 

Similar to reaching Kolsai Lakes, you will need to reach the Saty village. From Saty village, it is a 10 km drive to Kaindy lake which you can cover by hitchhiking or by taking a taxi/horse.

Ile Alatau National Park

Photo of Ile-Alatau National Park, Abay Ave, Almaty, Kazakhstan by Rachita Saxena

A paradise for hikers, Ile Alatau National Park has an abundance of flora and fauna and is one of the top places to visit near Almaty. Home to around 300 animal and bird species, this national park has many beautiful valleys and trails for the trekking enthusiasts.

So, if you love the outdoors or if you are interested in observing the flora and fauna, then this should definitely one of the places in your itinerary.

Best time to visit:

May - September

How to visit: 

You can either head to the Big Almaty Lake side or to Shymbulak direction. Both these places come under Ile Alatau National Park so you can easily go on a trek from any of the places.

Medeu and Shymbulak

Shymbulak Highest Skii Point

Photo of Medeu, Gornaya Street, Almaty, Kazakhstan by Rachita Saxena

Love ice skating? If yes, then you have to try the Medeu outdoor skating rink which also happens to be the highest skating rink in the world.

That's not all though, there is also a proper skiing area, Shymbulak Ski Resort, just a few meters above Medeu. Here, you can enjoy skiing on simple or advanced slopes or you can simply enjoy the views from the top here.

Best time to visit:

January - May

How to visit:

You can take bus number 12 from Almaty bus stop opposite to Kazakhstan Hotel. It takes around 45 minutes to reach Medeu ice skating rink in the bus. You can also get down at the cable car stop from where you can take a cable car to Shymbulak Resort and to the skiing starting points.

The cost of a 1-time return cable car ride to the highest point of Shymbulak Resort is 4000 Tengge. Also, do note that both the places shut down at 4-5 pm so make sure, you start early in the morning.

All pictures are property of the writer

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3 Comment(s)
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The total cost excluding flights was INR 20,000 only for a whole month? Does it include accomodation,food and internal travel and other incidental expenses? If yes its a steal deal....I suppose u used public transport over there and that also helped in keeping the costs down.Wld like to hv the itinerary in detail if possible.Jai Hind
Wed 09 04 19, 21:16 · Reply · Report
Hi Ashish, I was here for a month so it cost me around 20k INR excluding the flights.
Wed 09 04 19, 14:28 · Reply · Report
Great pics.. looks like an amazing country..almost devoid of too many tourists. Pls can you share the brief itinerary and ball-park figure on how much it costs
Tue 09 03 19, 15:02 · Reply · Report