PART 1 General Information
PART 2 BLOG and Pictures/Gallery
PART 3 VIDEO CLIP
PART 1, GENERAL INFORMATION
Capital city: Astana
Population: 18 million
Currency: Kazakhstani Tenge
Km travelled: 2347
Days in: 10
Languages: Kazakh & Russian
Kazakhstan is the worlds largest landlocked country. Oil and gas are the 2 major income earners. More than 35% of Kazakhstan is flat lowland. However, in the far east you find the mountainous area with Mount Khan Tengri at just under 7000 meters. Officially Kazakhstan is a democratic society. Large parts of Kazakhstan are empty desert type terrain with less than 6 people per sq. kilometres so the population density is low. The capital city is Astana, but we hear this can change. Kazakhstan became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. Kazakhstan was the last Soviet republic to declare independence, just 10 days later the Soviet Union stopped to exist. Kazakhstan is a country that covers 2 continents. (Europe and Asia)
We only visited part of Kazakhstan; this huge country is the worlds 9th biggest. It is also the largest country in the world with no access to the sea. Kazakhstan has a rich culture and history, from spiritual leaders to artisans and performers. Kazakh nomads have always lived in harmony with nature, so the many natural sights are important in Kazakhstan. Baikonur is a truly unique experience – there are few places in the world where you can see a rocket launch. Baikonur is the largest space launch facility in the world, and the only place currently launching manned flights to the International Space Station. You can tour the facility, learn about the history of spaceflight at the museums and memorials, and then witness a rocket launch – a truly unforgettable experience, however this needs a lot of planning and we missed out.
First part of Kazakhstan we entered. Not far from Uralsk you can see the excavations of the ancient city of Zhaik in the era of the Golden Horde and the ruined monastery on the shore of the “Sadovsky Lake”. You can follow the track up Big Icha to enjoy the view. The Akkum Desert is the most ancient and beautiful in Kazakhstan. It is believed that it has been preserved since the ice age.
We did not stay long and only visited the park of the first president and the 2 mosques Nurdaulet and Nur-Gasyr
Main points of interest are Lake Aral and Baikonur international space station.
Located in the hot southern region of Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda region has over three hundred sunny days a year, magnificent natural landscapes and a rich historical heritage, revealing the secrets of the Middle Ages and the birth of Kazakh statehood. A great area to explore all the ancient settlements. Be warned it does get hot here in Summer
The Baikonur cosmodrome was founded in the 50s of the last century. It’s no secret that the first manned flight into space took place from here, and now, in addition to launching rockets and satellites, even “space tours” are carried out here. Have a unique opportunity to get acquainted with well-known complexes and buildings of the cosmodrome, and its museum will reveal the entire history of the creation of “Baikonur” in colourful details and tells about amazing and brave personalities. But you are required to book ahead if not on an organized tour.
Once this was the 4th largest lake in the world. During our visit is was just about empty due to water diversions. It once had 68000 square kilometres of surface area, with a thriving fishing industry employing over 40000 people. As a result of the drying over the past decades, millions of fish died, coastlines receded miles from towns, and those few people who remained were plagued by dust storms that contained the toxic residue of industrial agriculture and weapons testing in the area.
This city is 1, 500 years old. This place is worshiped by the Muslim community of Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries. In ancient times the triple visiting of this place was equal to pilgrimage to Mecca. For us this town was the highlight of Kazakhstan with the Khoja Ahmed Yasawi Mausoleum (UNESCO World Heritage) The entire city centre is an ensemble of historical buildings including the tomb of Robia Sultan Begim. The railway station, which is considered a landmark, is also very interesting.
For us the last city in Kazakhstan before we crossed into Uzbekistan. The town has a real oriental flavour and is the heart of the south, an amazing ancient city. It is in the middle of the steppe, under the scorching rays of the hot southern sun. Must do is a visit the Arboretum, a favourite place for much of the indigenous people of the city. For overlanders at the time of our visit we could not cross the border here into Uzbekistan. We crossed at Chinaz.
The climate is sharply continental, and hot summers alternate with equally extreme winters, especially in the plains and valleys. Temperatures fluctuate widely, with great variations between subregions.
Summer: 15 degrees at night, 35 degrees during the day
Winter: minus 20 degrees at night to minus 8 degrees during the day
Rainfall: Little year round
Summer: 20 degrees at night to 40 degrees during the day
Winter: minus 10 degrees at night to 11 degrees during the day
Rainfall: Dec to April
Summer: 12 degrees at night to 39 degrees during the day
Winter: minus 10 degrees at night to 18 degrees during the day
Rainfall: Oct to April
Summer: 17 degrees at night to 30 degrees during the day
Winter: minus 10 degrees at night to 12 degrees during the day
Rainfall: Oct to March
PART 2, BLOG and Pictures/Gallery
We already visited Poland, Ukraine and Russia. We decided to drive straight on to our starting point: Lake Aral in Kazakhstan.
This was a journey of over 5000km and when we arrived at Lake Aral we had travelled in 10 days the same number of kilometres as we will travel in the next 6 weeks after we leave here.
KAZAKHSTAN BORDER TO LAKE ARAL
Kazakhstan, the ninth largest country in the world, located right in the heart of Eurasia, is our first destination. Not a lot of historical sites, but the richest of all Stan Countries due to its large oil and natural gas reserves.
Russia decided in the 1950/60 to use water from the Amu-Darya en de Syr-Darya rivers which flowed into the Aral Sea to divert to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. In lieu of this, large rivers in Siberia were planned to be redirected to the Aral Sea. Unfortunately, this never happened, resulting in the fourth largest lake in the world to dry out.
In the process 35,000 people lost their fisheries related jobs and the main Port of Aral in Kazakhstan and Moynac in Uzbekistan ended up 100km from the water. Due to drying out, the lake became divided into 2 parts in 1987. We visited a ship cemetery with old, rusted boats and ships. Next up was Baikonur, the world-famous space port. It is quite possible that soon not only the local people, but also travellers from abroad will be able to get one step closer to space. But for the moment this is a closed shop. The space museum is open, but as this part is Russia, you are not welcome!
Word is that plans are ready for a Cape Canaveral type of entertainment complex with modern hotels and service facilities. Facilities would include a mini-mission control centre which would simulate a spacecraft launch, a planetarium, a museum of space development, a shopping network, restaurants, as well as ‘cosmic cafes’ for young people. Time will tell but now this does not look like it`s happening.
LAKE ARAL TO BORDER UZBEKISTAN
From Baikonur, we travelled south to Kyzylorda the former capital of Soviet Kazakhstan. Here we found some Wi-Fi to send out some urgent emails.
Next was the city of Turkestan, it was one of the main attractions we visited. This is an ancient city in the Kazakh Desert with a famous mausoleum. Up to 10,000 people a day visit, and we are told three visits equal one visit to Mecca. Oriental traditions coexist with Western culture. In Southern Kazakhstan some of the World’s earliest cities flourished.
This is a frontier between nomads and ancient settlements. A system of caravan routes connecting China with the Near East and Europe used to cross through this land. The Great Silk Road, or Zhibek Zholy in the Kazakh language, emerged as a major trade route as early as the third century BC. A significant part of this road now belongs to the territory of Kazakhstan.
Cities such as Turkestan (Yasi), Taraz (Talas) and Otrar are located along this ancient route, and in the past, they used to be major settlements along the path of the caravans. In all, a fascinating country with perfect bush camping, desert scenery not unlike parts of Western NSW or Northern South Australia and the Nullarbor in Australia. And very friendly people who make you feel welcome.
Other important information
Kazakhstan, you need to register within 3 days of arriving. ( 2013)
- Oral office N 51.11.430 E 051.22.946
- Almaty Office N 43 15.036 E 076 55.529
Visa`s and LOI, best contact is David at Stan tours, Central Asia Travel resources. This company is used by many overlanders. Find it on the web.
When heading for Uzbekistan please note the diesel shortage. We picked up diesel 20KM before the Chinaz border. Also, do not follow signs to Tashkent but continue straight ahead as the border to Tashkent is closed. (2013) The border for foreigners is 60KM south west of Tashkent N 40.58.196 E 068.43.907. WARNING for those who collect GPS locations this was current (2013). Not sure when the new border opens.
PART 3, VIDEO CLIP
- Compilation Thailand to Europe
2. Compilation Thailand to Europe