Kazakhstan horse riding holiday
Description of Kazakhstan horse riding holiday
Let Eastern Kazakhstan's tall, fit horses, melting pot communities, flourishing valleys and striking snow-topped mountains steal your heart, as they have ours, on this Kazakhstan horse riding holiday. Ever since our first rides here in 2015 and 2016, our ethnically-Kazakh Altai coordinator Amangul has been helping us build relationships, routes, and border permit avenues to experience this rarely visited corner of Central Asia. Near the borders of China, Russia, and Mongolia, deep nomadic roots tie together a variety of traditional cultures and make the area's archaeological sites a trip highlight, but the steep terrain necessitates plenty of pack-horsing and full riding days, so keen riders and active travelers need only apply!
A trip for the intrepid and adventurous, we aim to continue exploring new areas and routes in this extremely varied, forested, lake-rich region, so be ready for a non-itinerised trek as you help us develop ecotourism in a stunning but little known travel locale.
As with our Mongolian treks, we will assemble our team of wranglers, horses, support staff, and provisions in preparation for our stint of backcountry camping, sleeping in tents (no single supplement required), and cooking around the fire. Although we've been lucky enough to come across some hospitable locals' saunas, there's little access to amenities such as showers and toilets out in the Kazakh wilds. That said, the seemingly endless clean rivers, combined with the fairly mild Western Altai climate, make for plenty of swim-call opportunities - even for the horses, sometimes!
The riding is a large part of what truly keeps us coming back - grassland meadows follow into forest trails and technical climbs lead to the far-flung summer pasture known in Kazakh as jailoo. Because we work with the local park rangers themselves, their strong and experienced horse herds provide for a never-ending succession of well-paced, varied days which make the weeks of horse travel fly by. We hesitate to say "for experienced riders only," because we can indeed find a horse to help take care of newer riders, too - but expect a brisk pace and plenty of chances to canter (and more!) on this adventure holiday. Although this trip naturally attracts serious horse folk, trekkers of all sorts can expect to up their riding skills and appreciate this secret trekking heaven.
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PlanetIt's hard to avoid the fact that you are likely to arrive in Kazakhstan by plane, although we do encourage keen train travelers! Once you are here, however, we minimise further carbon emissions by travelling in the most sustainable way possible, as much as possible - by horse. Happily, riding is also the best way to experience the area.
Clean water is thankfully not a scarce resource where we ride, and we want to keep it that way. This is about maintaining the purity of rivers and streams that we camp near. We ensure that our toilet is dug a suitable distance from the water course each evening. Dishes and clothes are washed away from the waters edge. We do encourage guests to swim and wash in rivers, but soap-free is the way to go.
Pioneering a strict trash and low-impact policy is also an important part of forging the way for responsible travel in this delicate national park.
PeopleVisiting Kazakhstan is new territory not only for most international travelers and locals but for travel companies such as us. In Mongolia, we have built up close relationships with our local staffs and their families over the years and focused on developing the kind of tourism and business that works for them. Our goal in Kazakhstan is to not only continue that philosophy and practice, but to lead the way in community-connected, responsible tourism. We recognise that the best way to really get to know any place is by drawing in close to the camp fire in the evening and getting to know the local people you are riding with.
Furthermore, the unique opportunity of riding in the Katon Karagai National Park affords us the ability to work directly with the park rangers and management. In doing so, we can not only listen to the needs of the local communities, bolster the park staff's connection with travelers and travel route development, but help support the eco-friendly, low-impact guidelines around which we've built our trip style.