Kazakhstan tour, beyond Cosmodrome
Description of Kazakhstan tour, beyond Cosmodrome
Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, and sits where the Silk Road from west to east met in ancient times. In the 20th century it has found itself on the cusp of a different frontier - as home to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which was the base for the Soviet space programme and remains the largest spaceport in the world. On this exclusive small-group tour, travel by road and rail from the old capital city of Almaty through the southern regions of this fascinating country. Explore ancient cities and colourful bazaars before reaching the Cosmodrome where you will tour the Orbital Complex and Gagarinís Start Complex. Finish the tour in Astana, the modern capital city with its eye-catching, futuristic architecture, fascinating museums and bustling streets.
|Day 1||Fly to Nur Sultan.|
|Day 2||Arrive in Nur Sultan and after having the morning to relax, embark on a city tour, visiting the Palace of Peace and Accord, Khan Shatyr complex and Bayterek Tower. (L,D)|
|Day 3||Spend a second day in the city to visit the Palace of Peace and the Khazret Sultan Mosque. In the afternoon enjoy a cooking class, a lesson in traditional yurt construction. (B/L/D)|
|Day 4||Transfer to the airport for the flight to Kyzylorda and travel across the steppe to the city of Baikonur - leased by the Russians for the next 40 years. After passing through the formalities to get into the city, check-in to the hotel and in the afternoon visit the city museum and the Soyuz Rocket on display. (B,L,D)|
|Day 5||Baikonur is the world's oldest and largest space launch site, seeing the first manned launch from Yuri Gargarin to the British astronaut Tim Peake head to the stars. Visit the launch site, space museum, Orbital complex and Gargarin's cottage (subject to Roscosmos permits). In the afternoon visit Baikonur and the Spaceport History Museum. After dinner transfer to the train station for the overnight journey to Turkestan. (B,L,D)|
|Day 6||Arrive early on the overnight train from Baikonur to Turkestan and, after a local breakfast, drive to the medieval fortress of Sauran. Return to Turkestan and explore the vast Azret-sultan historical complex before continuing to Shymkent for the night. (B,L,D)|
|Day 7||After breakfast drive through the steppe and mountains to Taraz and visit the Aisha Bibi Mausoleum, Babaja Hatum and Karakhan Mausolems along with the Tekturmas Complex before returning to Shymkent for the night. (B,L,D)|
|Day 8||In the morning enjoy a tour of Shymkent visiting the bazaar, Abai Park and the museum of history. After lunch enjoy a free afternoon to explore at your own pace. (B,L,D)|
|Day 9||Fly from Shymkent to Almaty, Kazakhstan's former capital city, and home of the apple! Having had a few busy days enjoy lunch and then the afternoon is free to explore this charming city. (B,L,D)|
|Day 10||Spend the day exploring Almaty, visiting Panfilov Park and Zenkov Cathedral (the world's second largest building built without the use of nails). Enjoy the Green Bazaar, Kok-Tobe Hill and Medeo Gorge along with Republic Square and the Independence Monument. (B,L,D)|
|Day 11||Leave the city behind and visit Big Almaty lake in the Trans-Ili Alatau, enjoying a walk at 2,510 metres. Have a picnic lunch and on the way back to Almaty enjoy a demonstration of traditional Kazakh hunting with birds of prey. (B,L,D)|
|Day 12||Transfer to the airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)|
PlanetKazakhstan is a country where 'green' policies and principles are only slowly making inroads into the country so it's all about the little things adding up to slowly start to make a difference. The very nature of this tour as a shared transport, group tour helps to minimise the environmental impact of visitors compared to many individual travellers using separate vehicles. Many of the hotels used on the tour are locally owned and staffed and, while some of them may be larger properties, all are important employers of local people from hospitality staff right up to management level. Many of the smaller, more remote hotels make use of solar energy panels for electricity and our ground agents also try to use LPG as opposed to petrol in their vehicles where possible.
We are always talking to our local ground agents about the need to stress to clients the importance of basic responsible principles such as appropriate waste disposal, not to waste water, turning off lights on leaving the room in hotels, not replacing towels and bedding daily etc.
As a company we have introduced responsible practices in our UK office including paper, cardboard, aluminium and plastic recycling. We also support local UK charities including the RNIB and various charities around the world. 50% of our office staff use public transport (bus and train) and cycle to work. Management encourages this with their introduction of the cycle to work scheme which offers subsidised cycle ownership.
PeopleOn our Kazakhstan holidays all services are provided by local Kazakh people which includes your local English-speaking group guides, the drivers, local guides at various monuments/sites and hotel staff. All staff are paid a fair wage for Kazakhstan and all wages are kept within the local communities thereby supporting local people. Furthermore, by visiting these hotels and sites additional income is brought into the region, further helping to develop the local area. All meals are included on the itinerary and food is sourced locally whether it is served in the hotels or a locally owned and managed restaurant.
Every year at the start of the busy tourist season our ground agents provide training to local villagers involved in the CBT (community based tourism) initiatives on how to interact with and welcome visitors into their communities. The local agents also sponsor local communities to collect rubbish and plant local plant life in their region.