the hospitality of its people and its incredible nature, that’s what makes Kazakhstan unique
General aspects of Kazakstan
Official languages are Kazakh and Russian (KZ/RS) Here are your first words in Kazakh and Russian!
Hello: Salem / Privet
Goodbye: qus bol / Proshchay
Please: ӧtinemin / pozhaluysta
Thank you: Raxmet / spasibo tebe
Yes/No: (ïä / joq) / (yesli/net)
Currency: Kazakhstani Tenge (KZT)
The capital: Nur-Sultan
Population: 18, 04 million
Main religion: Islam
Safety Rating: According to the Global Peaceful Index, Kazakhstan is the number 64 out of 163 countries.
Solo female traveler: it is not advisable to travel alone to this country, do not go out alone to the street if it is dark and during the day avoid places with few people. The clothing has to be adequate; we should not show the knees or shoulders.
Kazakhstan, an immense country in Central Asia, has a strongly continental climate, with cold winters almost everywhere. Summers here can be either moderately hot or steamy. There are no obstacles that can protect Kazakhstan from the masses of cold air of polar or Siberian origin, while in summer warm currents can rise from the deserts of Iran.
The enormous distance of the oceans causes this country to get very hot in the summer and cool in the winter so that the records of heat and cold are extreme: in the north, you can reach -50 ºC (-58 ℉) in winter and around 40ºC (104 ºC) in summer. In the south the temperature can go from -35ºC (-31 ºF) to 45 °C (113 ºF).
The least cold area in winter is the southwest area, along the Caspian Sea coast, where the average temperature in January is -6 ºC (21ºF) in the north, 0 °C (32 ºF) in the east and slightly above zero on the border with Turkmenistan; There is also a small southern portion in the central part of the country (on the border with Uzbekistan), where the average temperature in January is around 0ºC (32 ºF). In general, at the same latitude, the winter temperature decreases as we move east.
During this season the temperatures are more uniform and vary, mainly, according to area;In July, on average, it goes from 19 ºC (66 ºF) at the north end, to 25 °C (77 ºF) in the central-southern zone, up to almost 30 °C (86 ºF) in the extreme south.
As mentioned, the rains also vary from north to south: the northern part, the rainiest.
In general, Kazakhstan is a very cheap country to travel in, especially if you travel there during summer. You can camp almost everywhere for free. Also, do not worry if you don’t like camping, you won’t pay a lot for spending the night in guesthouses, homestays, and yurts.
For camping, in case you have your own camping gear, you will be able to camp for free almost everywhere, if you do not have it, renting it will be around 1$. The best months to camp are from May to September, otherwise, it will be really cold!
There are some dangers though. Away from the main trails in the Dzhungar Alatau and especially in the Altai, bears roam. Around 30 000 wolves live in Kazakhstan as well. Everywhere in the mountains, ticks are perhaps the smallest, and yet the largest danger: they can carry Lyme’s disease. There’s one that can cause special harm and it is the deadly tick-borne that can cause you encephalitis (get the vaccine in advance).
Although Kazakhs are always talking about their nomadic heritage, it is difficult to experience real nomadic life in Kazakhstan. Most Kazakhs have never slept in a yurt themselves. You will still see yurts on your trip to Kazakhstan, but understand they are holiday rentals, pop-up restaurants or shops for local produce, rather than homes for nomadic families.
If you’re a budget backpacker, you’ll easily find a dorm bed in the big cities for 4$.
Train in Kazakhstan is a great and cheap way to get around this vast country. Traveling on a night train is, in my opinion, the best option. You will save a night in a hostel and also, these trains are very comfortable to sleep in.
You can find prices and timetables at the online booking sites of https://tickets.kz/en/gd.
A bus or shared taxi in Kazakhstan is a good idea for smaller distances. For long journeys, the train is equally as fast and comes at a similar price.
The standard price for a ride within a city or town is less than 1$.
Blablacar and InDriver are the two main platforms for booking shared taxis for those who prefer a more high-tech solution.
This is a country with a lot of traditional dishes. After my journey there I highly recommend these three national dishes:
- Beshbarmak is the most traditional Kyrgyz dish eaten by nomads. They take a shaved lamb and dump it on top of a pile of steaming noodles and onions served with a broth/sauce.
- Kazy: this is a traditional sausage made from the rib meat of horses. The meat is stuffed inside the animal’s intestines and then usually dried or smoked before it is boiled for consumption. Kazy is an important part of any celebratory meal.
- Kurt: This is a type of cheese made from dehydrated sour cream by forming small balls and letting it dry. Traditionally, Kurt was useful for long treks on horseback across the steppe.
5 things to do in Kazakhstan
It is a canyon on the Charyn River in Kazakhstan. The canyon is approximately 90 kilometers long. It is part of Charyn National Park and it is located within the territory of Uygur District, Raiymbek District, and Enbekshikazakh District. People say that it is like the Grand Canyon National Park in the U.S., but smaller. Get immersed in the nature of the country observing its landscape!
Mausoleum of Khodja Akhmed Lasavi
It is an unfinished building, the mausoleum in the city of Turkestan or Hazrat-i Turkestan, in the province of South Kazakhstan. In 2002, it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, is the first Kazakh World Heritage Site. It is an incredible building, a complete must if you visit the country.
Set around the lush Tamgaly Gorge, amidst the vast and arid Chu-Ili mountains, it is a remarkable concentration of some 5,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings) dating from the second half of the second millennium BC to the beginning of the 20th century. They have been testimonies to the husbandry, social organization, and rituals of pastoral peoples. An incredible part of history!
Mountains of Altai
One of the most important reliefs of Kazakhstan that is located on the borders of four countries: Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and Russia, thanks to which it has maintained a well-preserved nature, with endangered species. Visit the mountain villages and lakes, they are pure beauty.
What do I mean by Silk Road?
It is a set of trade routes that were specifically organized for silk trade since the 1st century BC., which covered almost the entire continent of Asia. It began in China and could cross many of the countries of Central Asia, plus Iran and Turkey. There, the goods were scattered throughout Europe. This legendary one through which caravans have traded products from the East and West through centuries. In addition to this, it also functioned as a bridge through which ideas, knowledge and also the foundations of Buddhism and Islam were transmitted.
Nowadays, instead of a merchant purpose, some brave travelers do it by motorbike, hitchhiking, car or public transport. Do not worry; stay tuned to read the article about the Silk Road I did last year! Kazakhstanis one of the countries I passed through.