Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world, spanning from Caspian Sea all the way to China. The diverse country is sparsely populated relative to its size, with only about 18 million people within its borders. As a travel destination, not much seems to be known about the country to would be travelers. Nearly 25 years after the country broke free from the Soviet Union, the country has some surprisingly modern cities as well as ancient towns along its famous silk road.
Although no longer Kazakhstan’s capital, Almaty remains the country’s largest city and has lots to do for travelers and expats who live in the city. Some sites include the 28 Panfilov Heroes Memorial Park, Republic Square, and the presidential palace. This is truly a city that has everything, from traditional Kazakh restaurants to international chains and night clubs. In the winter you can enjoy ice skating, ski resorts, saunas, and in the summer go hiking or even mountaineering.
Formerly called Aqmola and Tselinograd, Astana is an old city in Central Asia that replaced Almaty as the country’s capital in the late 1990s. Since then, the city has begun to modernize itself while still keeping its old traditional neighborhoods and some of its Soviet style buildings. Astana is sort of a mini Dubai of Central Asia with its Khan Shatyry tent, Baiterek Tower, Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, and the outdoor museum Atameken Map of Kazakhstan.
Ile Alatau National Park sits south of Almaty and is a heavy for wildlife and natural beauty. A combination of mountains that remain snow covered year around, and beautiful high altitude lakes make this a perfect weekend trip from Almaty. There are hundreds of animals living within Ile Alatau including most of Kazakhstan’s most important species. This includes snow leopards, brown bears, and the Central-Asian Lynx.
Northern central Kazakhstan is made up of low altitude mountains covered by evergreens and lakes. This part of the country makes up the southern borders of Siberia. In Burabay National Park you can find some hiking trails and scrambling, some unique rock formations, and lots of wildlife in the right time of year.