Itinerary in Kazakhstan

All about Kazakhstan. Experts: Julia, walkingalmaty
tonic
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby tonic » Thu Aug 30, 2018 7:48 pm

And thanks for your helpful advices
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tonic
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby tonic » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:05 am

ok, so no problem with Duster at all to reach Assy plateau. First part can be quite intimidating, but we had no issue with grip or undercarriage.
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trabuccoitalia
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby trabuccoitalia » Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:23 am

I have 17 days in KZ. I am landing in Almaty on a friday and will leave from same place 2weeks and a weekend later. I was thinking to spend the weekend in Almaty. Then rent a car and drive to Aralsk. It should be approx 3 days not going too fast.
Then I have 2 possibilities. Driving to Caspian lake and then taking the superlong drive back OR driving to Astana, possibly leaving the car there and then taking a flight to Aktau or Atyrau and visit the region for a couple of days.
What do you think? I like exploring, not very much into hiking alone in the middle of mountains. Would love to balance a little bit of city life with more remote regions...
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AreWeThereYet?
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby AreWeThereYet? » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:10 pm

The one way drop-off charges for rental cars in Kazakhstan (e.g. rent in Almaty, drop in Astana) are really expensive; additionally, and apologies if I'm teaching you to suck eggs, you need an international drivers' licence. Finally, whilst I haven't done it personally, my guide in Aralsk said that the drive between Aralsk and Astana isn't that easy. Have you thought about the train?
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trabuccoitalia
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby trabuccoitalia » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:11 am

Vladex rental company told me that dropping the car in Astana instead of Almaty would cost 50.000 tenge extra. Basically it would be the same price as the 2 extra days of renting the car and drive it back to Almaty, and I would lose 2 days where I can fly to Aktau.
I know also about international driving license, it's not a big deal, I will need it this summer too when I am planning to drive around Russian Caucasus.

I am sure driving in KZ won't be easy (long drives, bad police, some very bad roads) but trains take TOO long for the days I have. I also speak 10 words of russian in total and having to deal with the typical vodka drunk guy on soviet train would be too much for me. Plus with car I can stop wherever I want.
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AreWeThereYet?
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby AreWeThereYet? » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:43 pm

Sorry, my experience was with AVIS/Hertz, should've pointed that one out. In fairness, the trains are ferociously non-drinking and non-smoking; I can't claim the experience that others, on this forum, have but in my journeys (always 3rd class on routes such as Aralsk-Aqtobe, Kyzylorda-Aralsk, Almaty-Astana) I never met anyone who was a nuisance. A few people wanted to chat with me and, even though my Russian vocabulary has 9 less words than yours, we even managed to arrange European cars in order of coolness with a bunch of squaddies on their way to the military academy/school/whatever in Aqtobe! But I do like the idea of a nice drive in the steppe. Put on Kyuss' discography and off you go in the desert...
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Milad
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby Milad » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:05 pm

You can still have weird co-passengers on migrant woker trains in 3rd class, but the train from Almaty to Astana (at least the fastest of them if there are multiple on a given day) is a modern spanish-bulit night-train where you can have a compartment to yourself (if you pay accordingly, should be around 60 EUR/70 USD). Not soviet at all, but a very "civilised experience"; there's even a good dining-car that resembles a good restaurant.
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trabuccoitalia
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby trabuccoitalia » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:18 pm

Thanks, Almaty to Astana probably the best thing is to fly, since price/time wise would be the best option.
If I had more time I would taken those long train rides, but I have to go back to the job that pays the trip... :(
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trabuccoitalia
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby trabuccoitalia » Wed May 08, 2019 12:37 pm

In the end I rented a normal car from Vladex, drove 3800 kms making an almost complete loop from Almaty to Astana. It was end of April/early May 2019.
I stopped (and slept) in Taraz, Shimkent, Kyzylorda, Aralsk, in a motel at the fork between Aktobe and Kostanay, in Kostanay and Burabay.
Driving was very easy until the city of Denisovska, on the way to Kostanay. Then really bad roads until Burabay.
SUV is not needed when you stay on the main highway and main roads of the city, but holes are EVERYWHERE. You have to be constantly concentrated to not damage your car.
I was never stopped by the police, but I kept well under the speed limits and always drove with lights on. On the higway part between Shimkent and the fork to Aktobe I saw TONS of Uzbek, Kirghiz and even Tajik license plates with cars full of bags (probably on their way to Russia) and that was area with the most police. After Aralsk all the way to Kostanay basically the traffic goes way lower and I really only saw police near the main cities. Most of the time the land is so flat you can see police if they are standing on the side. Moreover the classic double light flashing from cars coming on the opposite lane will tell you if police is around.

Is it worth to drive this much in KZ? Maybe yes, maybe no. You will see lots of landscapes that are really cool (steppe, deserts, green flatlands). Cities have usually no points of interests. Basically for Taraz, Shymkent, Kyzylorda, Kostanay Tripadvisors lists as top things to do, MALLS.
Turkestan has a nice square and museums area but that takes maximum half a day. Is cool to be near Cosmodrome in Bajkonur, but unless you have authorization you will not get in.
Aralsk is interesting but sad as well. Not much to do in the city (very little hotels, restaurants) and the Dam or rusting ships location that are mentioned on Caravanistan are SO FAR from Aralsk (like almost 2 hours drive on basically a path in the desert) and totally not adviced if you don't have SUV. I tried to reach them, I couldn't make it.

Burabay area has a nice lake and some tourist resorts/restaurant. You can go from Astana with a nice modern highway, the only "western" style road in the country so far.

I didn't make it to Caspian lake or Altai region, maybe in next trips.
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AreWeThereYet?
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Re: Itinerary in Kazakhstan

Postby AreWeThereYet? » Wed May 08, 2019 5:34 pm

Great to hear it nonetheless! Indeed when I went to Aralsk I had to have a guide to go almost off-road (it was a goath path more than a road) to see the Sea near Aqespe.
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