Itinerary in Kazakhstan

All about Kazakhstan. Experts: Julia, walkingalmaty
guido
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Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby guido » Thu Aug 16, 2018 12:01 pm

Hello,
I'm trying to figure out an itinerary for my almost 4 weeks long trip in central asia, mostly in kazakhstan.

I'm going in 10 days.

So far:
26 - landing in Astana
29 - night train to Almaty
30 - probably going straight to Bishkek
31 - Independence day of Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek
1 or 2 - heading to the world nomad games
5ish - probably leaving the WNG and heading either to Bishkek or to Karakol
.
.
17-18ish going to Almaty
21 flying back from Almaty.


I almost completely discarded the idea of going to Uzbekistan in between as I don't want to rush, and I prefer to stick with few countries and get to know them better (if it makes sense) instead of rushing and see a lot of places in a bad way.

The vague plan from the 5th on is to make a tour around Issyk-kul lake, stopping maybe in Karakol for 1 night, and maybe in bishkek for another. Then head towards Aralsk through Taraz Shikment Turkistan... I'd like to see the cosmodrome as well, but it seems crazily expensive/complicated. Ideally i'd like to reach caspian sea too, but it seems really far and badly connected. Once back in Almaty I'll just explore the city and the surroundings.

Any suggestions?
Would it be worth it?
Shall I plan to go to Uzbekistan instead?

Thanks
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Julia
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby Julia » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:56 pm

Kazakhstan has lots of natural attractions. I think you don't have enough time to see them all with your itinerary. But some of them. Definitely worth to spend those days in Kazakhstan or even more. Charyn canyon, altyn emel national park with the singing dune, kolsay lakes and kaindy lake with underwater forest, Assy platou, Turgen gorge with vine grapes farm and beautiful waterfalls, Big Almaty lake and Big Almaty peak.
And many different treks for hiking around Almaty. From easy one day hikes to multiple day trekking.
If you're into nature then Kazakhstan is a wonderful choice.
But if you're more into historical ancient architecture than you can do Uzbekistan instead.
Do you have Uzbek visa?
Don't know your nationality but most of travellers need to get a visa in advance. Plus you can stay only in a hotel as you need so called registration in Uzbekistan.
I did Uzbek trip in 5 days. Visited Samarkand and Bukhara. The most impressive architecture in Central Asia is there. And one day in Tashkent.
For Kazakhstan you probably don't need visa.

So you decide what you'd like to visit more.
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guido
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby guido » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:35 am

Thanks Julia!

I'm italian... don't need a visa for Kazakhstan, I do need it for Uzbekistan but if I understood well there's an online procedure now and I might have time to make it (considering I wouldn't enter Uzbekistam before 15-18 days from now, if I decided to go).

I'm into nature, daily hikes, ancient cities, architecture... a good mix is always the best thing I guess. I'd skip just multiple days hikes as it requires better equipment and preparation, and it "burns" time.
I'm into photography (quite professional equipment, less professional skills but still I like it :D), so I probably waste a lot of time taking pics too :D

In any case 5 days for 3 cities seems a lot of rushing to me, especially if there's good pictures to be taken. I think I'd like to see more of Uzbekistan if/when I get there (next year mybe? in combo with pamir?). Anyway thanks for pointing out you must stay in hotels, I've been on couchsurfing for 13 years and I try to stay with locals when I travel, so I'd have to consider that too.

On one hand, Uzbekistan attracts me a lot and I'm afraid the "I'll go next year" plan might go bad as 99% of the daydream planning I do, on the other I'm not a "collector" of countries and your long list of places to see (I'll check them!) makes me think again I should just stick with Kaz and some Kyrg.
Btw: I've been told by some friends that the nature around Almaty is great, but the one in Kyrgyzstan is even better.

Anyway, all that said, what itinerary would you suggest? What should be my priorities? I'm afraid of distances and connections, but eager to explore.
I'll probably improvise a lot on the spot, going faster when the place is not interesting, slowing down when it is. Still, would it be worth to go to Aralsk? Would it be possible and wortth to go all the way to caspian sea?
Consider anyway I'm leaving almaty area at the end as fly back form there and it's the main and easiest to reach hub from europe, so if I ever travel in the area again I can allow myself a couple of more days there before heading.
So I guess I'll go and see the rest, then when tired I'll get back to almaty... if I only have 2-3 days left I'll chose 1 daytrip out of town, if I have more days I'll explore more the surroundings. does it make sense?

Consider I'd be mostly on my own (By chance there's another italian feiend with shorter holidays in the area and I'll meet her in Bishkek on the 30th, then we'll go together to WNG, but then we'll probably split as she would fly to Uzbekistan from there whereas my travel philosophy is more to explore a "coherent" area overland, unless of course I have strong reasons to do otherwise) and relying on public transportations (although I'm ready to hitchhike where public transportation fails. Budget is not much of a problem but I'd avoid renting a car on my own unless it is the last resort to reach really wonderful places).

Thanks a lot! :)
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby steven » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:02 am

One day in Astana will be enough. 2 or max 3 days on WNG also enough I think. That opens up space in your itinerary. The following is just a suggestion.

Astana - Bishkek - WNG - Karakol - Kochkor - Song Kol - Suusamyr/Kazarman - Osh - Ferghana Valley - Tashkent - Bukhara - Samarkand - Tashkent - Shymkent (Sayram-Ugam/Aksu-Zhabagly NP) - Almaty and around.
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Julia
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby Julia » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:55 am

For your question about Aralsk - what is a purpose of going there?
As I understood you're into photography and nature among other things.
Aralsk is far and it's time consuming. If you want to see and learn more about ecological disaster of that area than yes, worth to go there.
Otherwise can skip it. And focus on South of Kazakhstan for natural attractions. To see the places I mentioned above.
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guido
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby guido » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:01 am

Well, I like to visit "real" and sometimes unconventional places, not only touristic ones, and the dry lake with wrecked ships could be interesting photographically.

I'm more and more confused :(
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guido
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby guido » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:08 am

steven wrote:One day in Astana will be enough. 2 or max 3 days on WNG also enough I think. That opens up space in your itinerary. The following is just a suggestion.

Astana - Bishkek - WNG - Karakol - Kochkor - Song Kol - Suusamyr/Kazarman - Osh - Ferghana Valley - Tashkent - Bukhara - Samarkand - Tashkent - Shymkent (Sayram-Ugam/Aksu-Zhabagly NP) - Almaty and around.


Thanks!
Already booked the night train from Astana to Almaty.. so i have almost 3 days in Astana. Again, i don't like rushing too much, and I'll spend some time getting money, a sim card, getting used to the country and time zone, etc. If time proves to be too much I'll find something to visit out of town I guess.

Let's say my trip starts in Bishkek on the 30 evening, and ends in Almaty on the 21st morning.

Your itinerary seems really too much... but maybe I should spend more time in Kyrgyzstan indeed.
Would it be possible to go through those places in Kyrgyzstan with public transportation?
In Uzbekistan Khiva would not be worth seeing?
And Turkistan iun kazakhstan?
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Julia
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby Julia » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:23 am

From your initial itinery you're going to spend from 5th to 17th in Kyrgyzstan. Around Son Kul you said.
Isn't it too long? Just near Son Kul for 12 days. Or you're going to go somewhere else? What exact places you want to visit in Kyrgyzstan?

And for Kazakhstan not enough time to do both South and Aralsk. Even for all spots on the South it's not enough time. Need to choose a few only.
If you give more days to Kazakhstan then could try tp get to Aralsk.
But need to plan carefully. If your flight would be from West of Kazakhstan would be better.
But you have to go to Aralsk from Almaty and back to Almaty. But train it's too long.

It looks like you'd better skip Uzbekistan this time.
You mentoined Pamir. I'd also recommend Fann mountains in Tajikistan. Extremely beautiful place.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are very similar. Some like one country more, others another. It's just about personal experience.
But mountains and people in Tajikistan are different.
And Fann region in Tajikistan is close to Uzbekistan. You can combine these two countries for the next trip.
For better experience I'd focus only on Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan this time.
Turkistan in Kazakhstan is worth to go.
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guido
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby guido » Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:45 am

Julia wrote:From your initial itinery you're going to spend from 5th to 17th in Kyrgyzstan. Around Son Kul you said.


Oh no, I probably made a mess and didn't explain myself very well: that was the part I didn't have plans for! I wanted suggestions on what do to in that period! :D

So far I have an idea what to do till about the 5th, and the last days (from about 17th in almaty area)... I'm trying to figure out what to do in between!

Julia wrote:And Fann region in Tajikistan is close to Uzbekistan. You can combine these two countries for the next trip.
For better experience I'd focus only on Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan this time.

that's my idea :)

Julia wrote:Turkistan in Kazakhstan is worth to go.

thanks!

So just to recap and make it hopefully more clear:
Astana for a few days, Bishkek around the independence day, then world nomad games (although my friend who is also going to be in the area has been told tickets for the opening ceremony have been sold out since long time :( ).

After that I'm not sure. The general idea would be karakol, maybe some more places around Kyrg, and then head towards Turkistan, and maybe Aralsk, stopping where it's convenient along the way (on the way there or on the way back I might stop in shmkent, or taraz, or idk)

After that, going to Almaty and exploring the surroundings.

So, the middle part is what I still need to figure out. I'll definitely improvise and adjust on the way, but I need a masterplan at least. I find it difficult to understand what is really worth it, how easy would be to reach places, and so on.
Do you think what I mentioned above could be a reasonable plan?
Consider I'd be on my own (in the middle part at least) and relying on public transportation... when possible, on long distances, i'd take advantage of night trains.

Thanks a lot!
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Julia
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby Julia » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:06 pm

Now I see.
Yes, your plan is reasonable.
For Kyrgystan try to visit a yurt base next to Son Kul. There are tours there. Don't know how much that cost. But I guess you'll find info on the Internet.
From Karakol can go to Issyk Kul lake. Nice area is near Bostery. Soviet style accomodation. There you can meet guides who offer one day individual guided tours to Barskoon waterfall, Salt dead lake and something else nearby. Pricey for one person. But if you're two of you or share with others than price is ok.

Better if you plan your time the way that you have at least one weekend for buying a tour from Almaty to Kolsay lakes. Public local group tours are cheap. But they are only on weekends.
Otherwise no public transport and logistics is hard or have to hire a private driver. The same problem in Kyrgyzstan. But drivers take cheaper prices there (from my experience)

So better to visit Kolsay and Kaindy on weekend with a local tour. During the week you can go to Charyn. By taxi to nearest village, than hitch hiking (as I understood you don't mind that)
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