Kazakhstan cultural tour
Description of Kazakhstan cultural tour
Discover the natural beauty, Silk Road ruins and busy cities of the largest landlocked country in the world on this Kazakhstan cultural tour. Of all the ‘stans, Kazakhstan is the most affluent, thanks to oil and mineral reserves, and has become a dominant economic force in Central Asia over recent years. But beyond its thriving cities, this country is still informed by deep traditions, and blessed with landscapes of enormous diversity, from mountains, to lush valleys, seemingly endless steppe and arid desert.
We explore Kazakhstan’s lakes and national parks, home to several species of endangered animal, and discover the historical sites that pepper this huge land, from a mausoleum commissioned by Timur, to the ruins of Silk Road towns. We hike in the beautiful Altyn Emel National Park, where the Charyn Canyon looks like the Grand Canyon in miniature. We have lunch with a local family in Turkestan and visit the lively cities of Almaty and Astana. Travel is by a combination of minibus, boat, overnight train and one internal flight between Shymkent and Astana. All in all, an exciting 10 days enjoying the diversity and warmth of this huge Central Asian country.
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PlanetWe have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the environments we visit are not damaged or spoilt in any way. Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to this trip and as tour operators, it is something we are careful to promote. Your guide on this trip will have been trained to uphold this policy and all clients are fully briefed on appropriate/responsible behaviour whilst in wilderness areas.
We are very aware of the economic, ecological and ethical impact tourism can have on ancient cultures and fragile environments. We realise that taking clients through this region can have a negative impact on the environment if not handled responsibly and as such, on all of our trips we go to great lengths to minimise the negative and accentuate the positive - after all, there are also many good things that the traveller can bring.
By keeping the group size to a maximum of 12, we can also minimise the human impact on the fragile sites we visit – particularly important as this trip visits some delicate ecosystems. This is something we will have to be very aware of when doing some walking in Altyn Emel National Park which is a haven for a range of wildlife, some of it very rare, including Central Asian gazelles and Turkmenian kulan. Our tour leader and local tour guides will be trained in handling travelling in a delicate region such as this. We will stick to the main paths so as not the damage the flora and fauna and also to not disrupt the wildlife. Our focus is on ensuring we maintain long term benefits for wildlife in the same way we do for local communities and the destinations we visit.
In an effort to do our small part in helping to cut down on plastic water bottle waste while travelling, we have launched a new initiative to road test portable water filters among our tour leaders and travellers. Putting our money where our mouth is we have purchased 10 LifeStraw portable water filters to road test – packing them off in the luggage of our tour leaders and clients to such diverse parts of the world as India, Iran, Madagascar, Montenegro and Venezuela.
On this trip we will use a combination of minibuses, boats, an overnight train and a domestic flight. This not only gives an interesting mix of transport types to keep the trip varied but also the fact that we will be using a minibus for most of the trip is also an effort to be more environmentally friendly. By choosing a minibus that can fit all of our clients and tour leaders (rather than a few vehicles) we are omitting less harmful gases. The use of public transport in using the overnight train is another example of a more environmentally friendly method of transport.
PeopleResponsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that we have been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to dossiers and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit.
In Kazakhstan we use local ground handlers - this means that all the operational costs go directly into the local economy and helps to improve employment opportunities in remote regions. By incorporating homestays, locally owned hotels, family run restaurants and the services of guides and drivers into our itineraries, we ensure that money you spend on your trip goes directly into the local economy and local communities benefit from tourism. This can be seen by the fact that we will be staying in a local guesthouse on nights 2, 3 and 4 of this trip. Having a local guide (as well as our own international leader) facilitates engagement with local communities in a respectful and mutually beneficial way.
We believe it is important to show respect for local traditions, cultures and history. For this reason we are sure to visit some of the lesser explored sites on our Kazakhstan trip which are equally fundamental in aiding our understanding of the culture in this fascinating and rarely explored country. An example of this can been seen on day 9 of this trip when we will head to the Kazakh ethnological village of Myktykol where we’ll enjoy traditional Kazakh entertainment and handicrafts.
In order to facilitate an enduring support structure for the communities we visit, and to show a commitment to these values, in January 2009 we set up a charitable foundation through which we can directly channel funds to both existing NGOs and our own development projects. In addition to organising ethically sensitive tours, having our own charitable foundation allows us to raise money – through the cost of our tours, charity trips and fund raising events – which can then be used to fund various projects in education, sanitation, reforestations and a number of other important issues facing developing communities.
We also support several other Aid agencies and NGOs around the world which are all carefully selected to improve the standard of living for the communities we visit.