Kazakhstan is where a vibrant multi-cultural society
meets the dark legacy of deportations, gulags, and nuclear
From 2,500 USD per person
Please apply by 20th March, 2024.
Kazakhstan is where a vibrant multi-cultural
society meets the dark legacy of deportations,
gulags, and nuclear weapons.
From 2,500 USD per person
In between these two fascinating cities, we will travel by road, rail, and air as we adventure and explore parts of Kazakhstan only a few have seen before. We will be heading to the industrial base of Karaganda, the infamous Semipalatinsk (in two words; Gulags and Nukes), and Kurchatov - the Los Alamos of the USSR, where the Red Bomb was developed and tested. Plus, we will even visit ‘The Polygon’; the vast nuclear testing range full of abandoned measuring platforms, bunkers, craters, buried machinery, and the scenic yet chilling ‘Atomic Lake’.
We’ll get a history lesson on the darker side of this little-known land, as well as updates on what’s been going on in the cities and countryside as we pass between them seeing local life, industry, and so much more. Combining our expertise working in the country, contacts, and in-depth research, we’ve put together a tour that is like no other to offer you the best in Kazakhstan tourism.
Please Note: the situation vis-a-vis access to the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Polygon is very much changeable with no notice. So while we do intend to run the tour as scheduled here there is a chance that things may change and we have to adjust to which areas we visit, where we stay overnight, and so on. We have explored this area thoroughly though and have redundancies and backup plans in place, so we can still assure all visitors that they will experience as much access to the site as possible when they visit with Koryo Tours.
Dates don't suit? Check out our Explore Kazakhstan | Astana to Almaty September Tour, or contact us for more information on private tours.
Scroll down for an overview of our Explore Kazakhstan - Astana to Almaty May tour highlights, tour itinerary, transport options, DPRK tourist visa information, and extra add-ons.
Astana - once the centre of the Virgin Lands campaign, now national capital
Semipalatinsk – fascinating small city and once home to an exiled Dostoyevsky
Nuclear Polygon – USSR’s testing range for atmospheric and underground nukes
Chagan – Abandoned long-range bomber base and garrison town
Kurchatov – Home of the bomb-boffins and Beria. Semi-abandoned these days
Karaganda – In the heart of Kazakhstan, also the heart of the old Central Asian Gulag system
Almaty – The old capital nestled against the Tian Shan Mountains
Tuesday 30th April
Overnight: Astana - Kazakhstan's shiny new Capital City!
Wednesday 1st May
NOTE: Today is May 1st, International Labour Day. Events may be happening in Astana and we will adjust the itinerary to include those that are available to the public. So the order of events will likely change on this day.
Thursday 2nd May
Akmol & Karaganda
Overnight: Chaika Hotel – amazing brutalist Soviet monstrosity. Real time-warp stuff. One part of the hotel was built specifically for the visit of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. The rooms are comfy and modern. The building itself is timeless!
Friday 3rd May
Overnight: Chaika Hotel
Saturday 4th May
Overnight: Onboard the train – 4 beds in each room. Comfortable and clean
Sunday 5th May
Overnight: Mayak Hotel – another time-warp hotel with period furnishings and decor.
Monday 6th May
Overnight | Mayak Hotel
Tuesday 7th May
Overnight: Semey Hotel – very Soviet-style place with an aesthetic unlike what you may be used to! All the charm of the late-USSR but with free wifi! You’ll love it!
Wednesday 8th May
Overnight: Hotel Kazakhstan – a towering monstrosity offering great views over the city as well as faded-luxury. An iconic structure in an iconic city; ideal for finishing off our Kazakhstan adventure
Thursday 9th May
Overnight: Hotel Kazakhstan
Friday 10th May
Flights leave from Almaty airport to various destinations both international and domestic. Let us know where you are going, and we will get you there in time!
You may also wish to spend more time in Almaty, a charming city – walkable, friendly people, lots to see and do. We recommend continuing at least one more day to make the most of the trip – you won’t regret it!
Don’t forget that Almaty is also very close to the border with Kyrgyzstan – the capital city of Bishkek is just a few hours away, and there are buses and shared taxis plying this route very frequently. We can help with this if you like and can recommend a visit to Bishkek too.
TOP RECOMMENDATION – however, this is the best choice – Join our tour to Turkmenistan! If you take this option not only do you join the ranks of Koryo Tours’ extra-special veterans but also get an extra night in Ashgabat. We fly from Almaty to Turkmenistan this afternoon. When there we meet our local partners and have time to relax, explore, do whatever you like really until the Turkmenistan Tour (more info on this here) begins on Saturday 11th May. Continue your Central Asian adventure with us – it’s the best way to see the region's most amazing parts!
All hotel rooms on our all-inclusive group tours to Kazakhstan feature twin beds, and will be shared. If you'd like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra $50 USD per night
How to Apply: To apply click on the application button listed with this tour and fill out the online form, upload a passport copy and photo (or send to us by email) and you can consider yourself to be booked on this adventure! For any questions, comments, etc. about this trip get in touch with Simon Cockerell at [email protected] We ask for an application to be complete a minimum of one month in advance of the tour, ideally, six weeks or more if possible: Please also indicate where you plan to join the tour from and finish the tour by going (we can offer advice on this, drop us a line to discuss it) We also require a deposit to be paid at this time as we start taking on administrative costs. We ask for a deposit of 50% of the tour fee. Cancellation & Refunds: Please note that if you require a visa for Kazakhstan, you will need to pay this fee yourself. Most visitors do not require visas, though. Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Kazakhstan We practice the same cancellation policy with this tour as we do with our DPRK tours. This is listed on our website T&C. However we do not seek profit from people who cannot go on tours, but we do make arrangements and commit to payments in good faith once a booking is received and payment is made. So we always try to refund more than the minimum. As with any trip it is best to be as sure as possible that you will attend the trip when making the final booking. If Koryo Tours cancels the tour for any reason, then a full refund is of course made. In all cases, we return as much as we can, and we do not take a fee for the client's cancellation. Please be sure that you will definitely be joining the tour when you send all the application details.
Please apply by 20th March, 2024.