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    Mighty Charyn Canyon
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    Kazakhstan traditions

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

  • A car with a tick VIP door to door

Compare the historical and cultural sites of two countries

Head for Central Asia to explore cities, mountains, canyons and historic sites, as you explore some of the highlights of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Your adventure starts in Almaty, when you’ll see city highlights and learn about Kazakh culture and customs on a visit to an ethno village. As you travel, see mighty Charyn canyon liked to the Grand Canyon in the Charyn State National Park, plus the second largest mountain lake in the world, before crossing the border into Kyrgyzstan. Explore the cities of Karakol and Bishtek, learn about the regions and see ancient buildings, before heading back to Kazakhstan to conclude your adventure in bustling Shymkent.


Hands shaking Included travel insurance

Bed9 nights in hotels and 1 in flight

Dinner plate28 meals: 10 breakfasts (B), 9 lunches (L) and 9 dinners (D)

PersonSaga tour manager


  • Return flights and transfers
  • Porterage at all hotels

MapIncluded excursions and visits

  • Visit Kazakh ethno village
  • City tour of Almaty
  • Charyn Canyon
  • Visit the Ethnographic Museum and petroglyphs of Cholpon-Ata
  • City tour of Bishkek
  • Ala-Archa National Park
  • Aisha-Bibi and Bib Khanum mausoleums
  • Shymkent city tour
  • Turkistan and the Mausoleum Arystanbab
  • Visit the ancient oasis of Otrar
  • Mausoleum of Yassawi

HeadphonesUse of audio headsets on guided tours

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK-Almaty

Fly overnight to Nur-Sultan.

Day 2 Almaty

Almaty city, Kazakhstan

Continue by internal flight from Nur Sultan to Almaty (one hour).

Arrive early and transfer to the 4-star Novotel Almaty City Centre Hotel (3Q) for two nights, where facilities include a restaurant with terrace, bar, and fitness centre with swimming pool. Each of the 190 air-conditioned rooms are equipped with a television, safe, tea and coffee-making facilities and Wi-Fi. Relax today and enjoy the day at leisure, with lunch and dinner included at local restaurants. B, L, D

Day 3 Almaty

Kyrgyz yurt in the middle of the mountains, Kyrgyztan

Start your day with a visit to Kazakh ethno village where you can learn about the history, traditions and culture of the Kazakh people. After being greeted with a traditional ‘Shashu’ ritual (when special treats are thrown), look forward to a programme of events offering insight into the customs and way of life of Kazakh society, including an introduction to the yurt – the traditional home of Kazakhstan nomadic peoples. There will also be a theatrical performance before returning to the city.

This afternoon set off for a tour of Almaty city, pausing at the Green Bazaar (or market). A short walk away lies Panfilov Park – dedicated to a group of 28 soldiers, known as the Panfilov Heroes, who died defending Moscow from the Nazi invasion. See the statue of the heroes and the eternal flame which commemorates the fallen soldiers of the Russian Civil War and World War II. As you walk through the park you’ll come across the Ascension Cathedral, built entirely from wood without the use of nails which miraculously survived an earthquake in 1911. Your tour concludes at Koktobe Park, the highest point in the city, where a ride on the cable car to a viewing point offers far-reaching views of the city. B, L, D

Day 4 Almaty to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan

Check out after breakfast and embark on the long journey to Karakol (255 miles, seven hours and 30 minutes).

En route look forward visiting the mighty Charyn Canyon which sits within the Charyn State National Park. Enjoy a jeep tour in the canyon which has been weathered away over millennia by the Charyn (or Sharyn) River. The Canyon is up to 300 metres deep and its massive and irregular red sandstone faces have given rise to it being compared with America’s Grand Canyon, but on a smaller scale. During the afternoon you will reach Karkara on the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

After border formalities continue to the town of Karakol where you will stay for the next two nights at a 4-star hotel of either the Hotel Karagat (2Q+), Green yard (2Q), or Amir Hotel (2Q). B, L, D

Day 5 Karakol

Orthodox church, Karakol

Tour the town of Karakol and see the Dungan Mosque and the distinctive Orthodox church. During today you can also look forward to seeing a demonstration of traditional eagle hunting. After your excursion return to your hotel, before enjoying dinner at a local house this evening. B, L, D

Day 6 Karakol-Bishkek

Ancient petroglyph on the stone, Cholpon Ata

After breakfast set off for Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan (255 miles, seven hours).

Travel via the north coast of Issyk-Kul Lake – the second largest mountain lake in the world, after Lake Titicaca in South America. From here you’ll head for Cholpon-Ata city where you can enjoy lunch and a visit to the Ethnographic Museum and the Petroglyphs of Cholpon-Ata. This open-air ethnographic museum reveals the history of the nomads who made the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul their home. Just outside the town lies a collection of ancient petroglyphs, or rock carvings, dating from 500 BC to the 1st century AD. The boulders here are illustrated with scenes of hunting, rituals and animals, particularly the horned ibex.

Stroll amongst these ancient stones before continuing your journey to Bishkek where you will arrive early evening. Spend the next two nights at either the 4-star Ambassoror Plaza (4Q) or Jannat Hotel (4Q), enjoying dinner at a local restaurant this evening. B, L, D

Day 7 Bishkek

Ala Archa National Park

This morning enjoy a tour of Bishkek city when you’ll take in the history museum, the central square of Ala Too, Victory Square, Osh Bazaar, and more. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. This afternoon look forward to an excursion to Ala Archa National Park situated in the Tien Shan mountains not far from the city. This scenic national park covers some 75 square miles and is home to towering peaks, forests, gorges and rivers. Enjoy an easy hike in the park taking in the beautiful mountain scenery before returning to Bishkek and dinner this evening in a local restaurant. B, L, D

Day 8 Bishkek-Shymkent

Aisha Bibi Mausoleum, Taraz

Leave Kyrgyzstan behind today as you head for the border, crossing back into Kazakhstan en route for Shymkent via the Korday border crossing (339 miles, seven hours). Once in Kazakhstan, drive to Taraz city (a journey of approximately four to five hours).

Upon arrival enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before continuing your journey, stopping next at Aisha-bib and Bib Khanum mausoleums about 20 miles outside Taraz. Built from bricks decorated with intricate patterns, the mausoleums relate to the tragic story of Aisha who, despite being prohibited from marrying her lover Shakhmakhmud, rode out to be united with him, only to be bitten by a snake and die before they met. The legend has it that he built the mausoleum for her, never married and went on to become a wise ruler.

Afterwards continue to Shymkent where you will stay for the next three nights at the 4-star Aidana Plaza Hotel (4Q). B, L, D

Day 9 Shymkent

View of Shymkent

Shymkent is one of Kazakhstan’s most modern and dynamic cities with a blend of Russian, Kazakh and Uzbek influences giving it a unique identity. Look forward to a tour of this fascinating city today, during which you’ll visit the Archaeological Museum with its well laid out collections of artefacts and displays, the Green Market with its colourful displays, impressive Central Square, Memory Alley and the Museum of Political Repression, which tells the story of Soviet oppression in the country and commemorated the first decade of the country’s independence. Dinner is at a local restaurant tonight. B, L, D

Day 10 Shymkent

The Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

After an early breakfast, depart for a journey of approximately three hours, pausing en route to visit the ancient site of the Oasis of Otrar.

Currently on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, Otrar consists of the remains of the medieval town that once stood here, together with evidence of its irrigation system including canals, as well as former buildings. It was the country’s largest medieval hill fort and an important oasis that functioned as an economic and cultural centre. Located nearby is the 14th-century Arystan Bab Mausoleum, built over the 12th century grave of Arystan Baba, the teacher of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi whose mausoleum you will visit later today. Continue to Turkestan for lunch in a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, a 12th century Sufi master. Built during the late 14th century but never finished, it is regarded as an outstanding example of the architectural style of the Timurid period (1370-1507) and influenced the development of Islamic religious building.

Admire the inner spaces, domes and decoration of this fascinating building before starting your return drive to Shymkent, enjoying dinner at a local restaurant. B, L, D

Day 11 Shymkent-Nur-Sultan-UK

Transfer to the airport after breakfast for your return flight to the UK and your included UK door-to-door travel service home. B

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan