Kazakhstan holiday, back in the USSR

Description of Kazakhstan holiday, back in the USSR

Discover remote Kazakhstan on this exclusive and unusual small-group tour. The north-eastern corner of Kazakhstan is one of the lesser-visited areas of Central Asia and in the mid-20th century the reason would have been obvious as it was home to the Soviet nuclear testing programme. Today it remains quiet but the region has opened up to visitors and you can now visit the laboratories of Igor Kurchatov, the director of the Soviet atomic bomb project and head into the Semipalatinsk Test Site where the experiments were carried out. You can see the concrete towers which housed the test instruments, and sites such as the re-constructed Moscow metro station.

This tour also visits the ghost town of Chagan, the town of Semey where Dostoevsky was exiled, as well as the former gulags at Alzhir and Karaganda, starting and finishing in the fascinating capital of Astana with its futuristic architecture.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1Fly to Almaty.
Day 2:On arrival in Almaty transfer to your hotel. After lunch embark on a tour of Kazakhstan's former capital city. Visit Panfilov Park which is home to the Cathedral of the Holy Ascension, the Central Museum and Republic Square. End the day at the Green Bazaar, one of the city's liveliest markets. (B,L,D)
Day 3:Continue your exploration of Almaty, visiting the Old Square along with the Kazakh Opera and Ballet Theatre. Also included are visits to the School Children's Palace, the Auezov Drama Theatre, Circus and the Wedding Palace. (B,L,D)
Day 4:Transfer from Almaty for the flight to Ust-Kamenogorsk. This afternoon explore the city, which is one of the oldest in the country, exploring the riverside, church, mosque and central park. (B/L/D)
Day 5:Drive to Semey, founded in 1718 as a Russian fortification against the Zhungars and home in exile to Dostoevsky. Visit his museum and that to Kazakh poet Abai Kunanbaev as well as the monument to the victims of nuclear testing known as "Stronger than Death." End the day with a stroll through Victory Park and discover the collection of Soviet statues. (B,L,D)
Day 6:Travel from Semey to Kurchatov, the home of the Soviet nuclear testing programme. Visit sites including an atomic lake, rocket launchers, the elevator to the underground laboratory and the Monument to the Founders of the Karazhrya Coal Mine. (B,L,D)
Day 7:Kurchatov was the home of the Soviet nuclear testing programme. In the morning visit the museum of the test site before driving into the Opytnoe Test Site. You will be provided with protective clothing and your local guide will talk about the history of the site and show you as much as they are permitted to. (B,L,D)
Day 8:Transfer to the train station and take the day train to Pavlodar. Arrive into the city in the evening and transfer to the hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 9:Spend the day sight-seeing in Pavlodar, visiting the Regional and Military History Museums, Checkov Theatre, Cathedral of the Annunciation and the Monument to Victims of the Famine. This afternoon drive to Ekibastuz and see the highest pipeline of USSR and the world's deepest coal mine before dinner with a local family. Transfer to the train station for the overnight train to Nur Sultan. (B,L,D)
Day 10:Arrive Nur Sultan early morning and transfer to the hotel. After time to freshen up drive to Akmol to visit the Museum of Soviet Repression at the former ALZHIR prison camp which is a fascinating and well-presented museum. Return to Nur Sultan. (B/L/D)
Day 11:Transfer to Karaganda in the heart of the Kazakh steppe and know for coal mining and labour camps. Visit the Spassk Memorial to victims of Soviet repression and the former centre of the KarLag correctional labour camp in the village of Dolinka. (B/L/D)
Day 12:Today explore little visited Karaganda to see the Monument to the Miners, Stanislavskiy Theatre, Nurken Abdirov monument and the Cosmonaut and War memorials. This afternoon take a train to Priozersk for a night in a local guesthouse. (B/L/D)
Day 13:Priozersk was once home to an air defence testing ground during the Cold War and today will be spent exploring the old radar stations, exhibition areas and garrison. This evening board another overnight train to Nur Sultan. (B/L/D)
Day 14:Visit modern Astana with it's Norman Foster designed building, Green Water Boulevard and the iconic Bayterek Tower - ascend the tower and into the golden globe and enjoy a spectacular vista across the city. (B,L,D)
Day 15:Transfer back to the airport for your return flight. (B)

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Check dates, prices & availability

19 Sep 2021
including UK flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 19 Sep 2021 departure

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Kazakhstan 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.

The Impacts of this Trip

On 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.


Popular similar holidays

The Silk Road small group tour

The Silk Road small group tour

Discover the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China

From 3049 - 3249 15 days including UK flights

Kazakhstan holiday, Steppe to the Silk Road

Kazakhstan holiday, Steppe to the Silk Road

Cultural and natural heritage in a Central Asian secret

From 1899 10 days excluding flights

Central Asia overland tour, the stans

Central Asia overland tour, the stans

An epic journey through the five 'stans' of Central Asia

From 5075 26 days excluding flights

The five stans silk road holiday

The five stans silk road holiday

Step into the pages of history on a silk road tour

From 5099 - 5349 23 days including UK flights