Kazakhstan holiday, Steppe to the Silk Road

“This vast and mysterious land is off the radar for most Western tourists, so you’ll have the ancient sites and stunning wilderness all to yourself”


Almaty | Altyn-Emel National Park | Charyn Canyon | Tamgaly | Aksu-Dzhabagly Nature Reserve | Turkestan

Description of Kazakhstan holiday, Steppe to the Silk Road

On this Kazakhstan holiday you’ll explore the sights of the Steppe and the legendary Silk Road, along with a small group of likeminded travellers. Although it’s one of the largest countries in the world, Kazakhstan is little visited by tourists, many of whom head for the better known Silk Road sites in neighbouring Uzbekistan. Those who do venture here are treated with vast open spaces, fascinating ancient towns and mysterious monuments – without another tourist in sight.

Kicking off the tour in Almaty, which has a distinctly Russian ambience, you’ll then make your way into the dramatic countryside, where highlights include the mighty peaks and ancient burial mounds of Altyn-Emel National Park; otherworldly Charyn Canyon; the prehistoric rock carvings at Tamgaly; and the meadows, plains and rich wildlife of the Aksu-Dzhabagly reserve.

The last stop in your tour is atmospheric Turkestan, which is rich in ancient buildings and mausoleums – all reminders of the town’s past wealth and significance.

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Check dates

2019: 11 May
2020: 9 May

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Kazakhstan holiday, Steppe to the Silk Road


A good deal of time on this trip is spent exploring Kazakhstan’s national parks and reserves. Kazakhstan as a nation has been much exploited and during Soviet rule its environment suffered greatly, like that of much of Central Asia. National parks such as Altyn Emel and Aksu-Dzhabagly are vital habitats for some of the region’s most endangered wildlife such as snow leopard and Tien Shan bear, and the entrance fees that we pay here help to fund much needed conservation efforts. In addition, bringing tourism to these areas helps to show local people that there is economic benefit in maintaining wildlife populations, as we employ the services of local guides and rangers in the parks where appropriate, and also use accommodation in or near the parks. With the skins of snow leopards fetching high prices on the black market, this helps to counterbalance the often traditionally held views that wildlife should be exploited and not preserved.

Within the national parks, we stick to the established tracks and trails (where they exist) to avoid damaging the fragile natural environments that we travel through.

In conjunction with our local partner we work with the guesthouses and hotels, to try to implement best practice with regards to environmental policies – this includes advising them on proper disposal waste and conserving energy. Many of these places are relatively new to tourism and we hope that by instilling these values from the start, we can make a small difference in the environmental impact of tourism upon Kazakhstan – a country that has so far seen very little in the way of tourism from the west and is not as accustomed to sustainable principles as some other places might be. We also operate a strict no litter policy on our tours and insist that all litter from travellers, guides and drivers is taken back to the hotels where it can be properly disposed of.


As well as the natural environment we visit and explore some of the cultural heritage of Kazakhstan on this trip, ranging from the bronze age petroglyphs at Tamgaly to the Silk Road monuments of Taraz, Otrar and Turkestan. Many of these have been much neglected over the years but in a small way tourism helps conservation efforts by virtue of the fees paid being used to maintain such important historic monuments, not just for tourists but for local people.

We work with Kazakh guides and drivers who not only are able to provide far better insights into the country than a western leader, but are then able to gain economically from tourism. Our local partner is based in Kazakhstan and we avoid using western owned local suppliers, as this means that profits are usually expatriated from the country. Where appropriate, in addition to a Kazakh guide who accompanies the group from start to finish, we will use the services of people from the areas that we visit, for example employing local based guides and rangers in the national parks.

We exclude meals on this trip where appropriate (ie. where people have a choice as to where to eat) and encourage our travellers to eat in local restaurants rather than the hotels, meaning that a greater variety of businesses have the chance to earn from tourism.

1 Reviews of Kazakhstan holiday, Steppe to the Silk Road

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 24 May 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

I have never said this before, but the entire trip was both memorable and
exciting! I felt I experienced the real Kazakhstan - from the people to the landscape to the culture.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared by having good walking shoes and be open to trying a wide array of foods that we don't normally have in Western culture.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

On a scale of 1 - 10, this was 1000!

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