Cycling in Kazakhstan can be hard. Central and West Kazakhstan are large, desolate (semi-)deserts that are very boring to cycle. The south and east (Almaty region, Shymkent region and Kazakh Altai) of the country is more populated, and has more interesting landscapes.
Roads and maps
The roads connecting the main cities are mostly in a good state. See the roads section at driving in Kazakhstan for detailed information.
We have a separate page with all our advice for maps.
Buy, sell, rent and repair a bicycle (+ gear)
We have a forum dedicated to buying and selling bicycle (gear) while on the road.
There are a good number of bike shops in Almaty. All of them sell and rent out bicycles, do repairs and have parts for sale. Bicycle touring gear like panniers we have not found so far – it seems this is only available online. We collect reports in the Almaty bike shop forum topic.
Elite Sports and Pro Sport get the best reviews. Second level would be Urban Athletic and Limpopo, with Extremal best for repairs and rentals. Realsport and Sportsmaster come in last.
Tattimbet from Sportwave (43.249389, 76.926982 – Whatsapp +77071124922 – [email protected]) has come highly recommended for repairs, spares and buying a bike.
Almaty also has bike-sharing stations dotted around town.
- Centrvelo: Yugo-vostok, Balbyrayin 4. Also rents out bikes.
- Limpopo Outdoor: Zheltoksan street, D. 2, VP-31.
- Astana Masters at 22 Mustafin, 32nd district
- Limpopo Outdoor (47, Bukhar Zhyrau Ave.; tel. +7 7212 411545, +7 777 0063523; email: limpopo dot karaganda at velocity dot kz
- Bicycle (23, Turgenev St.; tel. +7 7212 721083, +7 777 5759663; email: tolinych at mail dot ru)
Traffic in Kazakhstan
Try to stay away from the highways, where cars and trucks tend to speed. The size of the shoulder fluctuates between immense and non-existent.
Also note that, due to the high level of corruption in the state bureaucracy, many people buy their driver’s license in Kazakhstan. So watch out for those rich ladies in big jeeps, because they are not watching out for you!
Cycle routes in Kazakhstan
This is the best route out of Almaty and into Kyrgyzstan via Karakol. Fantastic scenery and no cars. Matthew Crompton wrote up his impressions of the route, and a bit more background on his website.
There is good cycling in the Dzhungar Alatau region as well, but we don’t have routes to share as of yet.
Bikes.kz has cycle routes around Astana and Borovoye with gps (in Russian).
Have a look at Cycling Altai for tips and considerations.
Should have good cycling as well near the border with Uzbekistan, but we do not know any routes yet. Let us know if you have been!
Bike on train or bus
The train is the easiest solution in Kazakhstan if you want to skip part of the journey. Lots of people have been able to transport their bicycle on the train for a fee, but the solution is very likely to involve a lot of discussion and ad hoc problem-solving.
For smaller distances, marshrutkas are used in Kazakhstan and they will not be able to fit your bicycle.
Large tour buses for intercity travel might also be able to store your bicycle in the luggage compartment, but they are not as convenient as trains.