All about Kazakhstan. Expert: walkingalmaty
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Spending around a week around Almaty, where would people recommend to explore the natural beauty of the region? I'm torn between Kolsai Lakes National Park and Aksu-Zhabagyly Nature Reserve ... I'd also like to combine these with Turkestan. Is that anywhere else that you'd recommend as essential in such a short time?
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What is nice about Almaty region is that there are many different types of landscapes: steppe, mountains, lakes, canyon, desert. More variety if you do the classic loop of Altyn Emel, Charyn, Kolsai (possibly Bartogai and Turgen). Aksu-Zhabagly is also nice, and there are also lakes and caves around Shymkent that are still undiscovered by tourism, but in general, it is the same landscape as the one you can see taking a cable car up from the center of Almaty into the mountains. My 2 cents.
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In my opinion, Aksu-Zhabagly and Turkestan are too far to go for a one-week trip (they're both in Southern Kazakhstan Province). Better to stay in Almaty Province and explore the city and the surrounds.
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