Where Steppe Meets Skyscraper

Kazakhstan

Historic homeland of a semi-nomadic horse-culture, vast Kazakhstan encompasses jagged snow-topped mountains and boundless scrub steppe.  In the south, the former capital, Almaty, is a sophisticated European showplace, while sprouting up on the northern steppe is the new capital, Astana, a mini-Dubai with cutting-edge architecture paid for with petro-dollars.

Why Travel with MIR to Kazakhstan
  • 30 years of Kazakhstan travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Vassar, Dartmouth and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Central Asia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • MIR affiliate office in nearby Uzbekistan
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
Signature Experiences

We regularly garner applause from our travelers for the inspired opportunities we provide to help them get to know the local people, architecture and accomplishments of Kazakhstan.  Below is just a sampling of the experiences MIR has designed to take our clients far from the familiar.

Ways to Travel to Kazakhstan with MIR

We love Kazakhstan. We design every one of our trips here to enable you to get to know a little about the modern Kazakhstani people (and we don’t mean Borat).

Take a look at your options, from small group escorted tours to independent trips, from luxury rail journeys to custom and private travel:

Small Group Tours
Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia

Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia

The Silk Road Through Western China and the Five ‘Stans

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

24 Days / Departures in May, August 2017

Small Group land tour from $7,995, plus $800 internal air

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Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans

Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans

A Classic Silk Road Survey

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

21 Days / Departures in May, August, September, October 2017

Small Group land tour from $7,895, plus $330 internal air

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Inside the Russian Space Program

Inside the Russian Space Program

From Star City to the Baikonur Cosmodrome

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Western Russia

9 Days / Departures in September 2017

Small Group land tour from $14,295

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Rail Journeys by Private Train
The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

Moscow to Beijing via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

21 Days / Departures in September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $24,595

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The Silk Route ‘Stans by Private Train: Eastbound

The Silk Route ‘Stans by Private Train: Eastbound

Moscow to Almaty Across Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

13 Days / Departures in September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $16,995

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The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

Beijing to Moscow via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

21 Days / Departures in September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $24,595

See Trip

The Silk Route ‘Stans by Private Train: Westbound

The Silk Route ‘Stans by Private Train: Westbound

Almaty to Moscow Across Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

13 Days / Departures in October 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $16,995

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Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Eastbound

Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Eastbound

From Ashgabat to Almaty Aboard the Orient Silk Road Express

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

14 Days / Departures in October 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $5,895

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Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Eastbound

Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Eastbound

From Ashgabat to Almaty Aboard the Orient Silk Road Express

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

14 Days / Departures in April 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $5,645

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Caspian Odyssey by Private Train: Eastbound

Caspian Odyssey by Private Train: Eastbound

South Caucasus to Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, South Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

16 Days / Departures in October, September 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $21,495

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Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train: Westbound

From Tehran to Moscow via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

18 Days / Departures in November, May 2017

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $20,995

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Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train: Eastbound

From Moscow to Tehran via Central Asia Aboard the Golden Eagle

Travels to: Central Asia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Western Russia

18 Days / Departures in March, October 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $20,995

See Trip

Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Westbound

Essence of the Silk Road by Private Train: Westbound

From Almaty to Ashgabat Aboard the Orient Silk Road Express

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

14 Days / Departures in March 2018

Rail Journey by Private train land tour from $5,645

See Trip

Custom and private travel is our specialty. We’ve been designing unforgettable custom itineraries across the vast steppe and desert of Kazakhstan for 30 years; a majority of our guests travel on custom itineraries.

For ideas, peruse one of our Regional Travel Planners, a roundup of the must-sees from our savvy staff.

Take a look at our suggested Private Journey, Essential Kazakhstan, or read more about how to design your own trip.  Also, consider this: You can customize our Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans small group tour or other MIR small group Central Asia tour to match your preferred dates of travel.

Design Your Own Custom Trip

Traveling privately on a custom program means flexibility:

  • You set the dates, the focus and the level of accommodations.
  • You are met on arrival and seen off at the end of your trip.
  • Your in-country transportation is pre-arranged hassle-free.
  • Your own expert local guides ensure that you get the most out of your visit.
  • And the best part? You travel at your own pace on an itinerary exclusive to you.

Check out just a handful of our Kazakhstan signature experiences below and then get in touch with a MIR Private Journey Specialist to craft an itinerary that suits your travel goals, budget and style.  Or get started planning now.

Suggested Itineraries for Private Travel

Whether you’re looking for a compact trip with all the highlights or something a little roomier with some of the extras, MIR offers itineraries that are available on a private departure basis with your choice of dates. They can also serve as inspiration for your own custom itinerary.

Our itinerary, your dates – great for solo travelers, couples or small groups.

Essential Kazakhstan

Essential Kazakhstan

From the New Capital to the Old

Travels to: Central Asia, Kazakhstan

Departures in April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December 2017

This itinerary available as a private journey

See Trip

Weather
Our Favorite Places in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan

Almaty

Spread out at the foothills of the Zaili Alatau Mountains in the Tien Shan range, Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan. Present-day Almaty sits on the site of an old Silk Road oasis town called Almatu; laid waste by the Mongols in 1211, the city left no ancient remains. Almaty’s name means “the place with apples,” and the many varieties of wild apple in the vicinity give scientists reason to believe that this is where apples were first domesticated.

A city tour of Almaty includes Panfilov Park, the St. Nicholas Cathedral, and a visit to the local bazaar where all types of produce, nuts and dried fruits are for sale. Stop in at the delightful Museum of Musical Instruments for a tour and short performance, and take a drive through Small Almaty Gorge up to 5,000 feet to visit the Medeo Sports Complex. Set among the craggy peaks and alpine slopes that bear the traces of an ancient glacier, the Olympic-size skating rink housed here has seen 180 world records set.

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Kazakhstan

Astana

Astana has been the capital of Kazakhstan only since 1997, when President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree moving the capital from Almaty. Located in remote north central Kazakhstan on the Ishim River and surrounded by sparsely-populated steppe, Astana seemed at first a strange place for a capital city. Today its ultramodern buildings glow with technicolor lights and its flourishing economy lures energetic young people from every corner of the vast country.

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Journeys that travel to Astana

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Kazakhstan

Baikonur

Russia’s premier space launch facility, Baikonur Cosmodrome is located deep in the arid Kazakh steppe. This is the place where the first spacecraft to orbit the earth, Sputnik I, was launched, and where Yuri Gagarin began his his­toric space flight, making him the first human being in space. Today Baikonur Cosmodrome includes nine launch complexes with 15 launch pads. The giant Soyuz rocket, ferrying astro­nauts and cosmonauts to the International Space Station, is launched here.

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Journeys that travel to Baikonur

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Kazakhstan

Charyn Canyon

Spectacular Charyn Canyon is known locally as Dolina Zamkov, or “Valley of Castles.” The Charyn River, flowing rapidly down from the Tien Shan Mountains, has carved a deep and beautiful canyon into Kazakhstan’s “hungry steppe.” The 50-mile canyon is a place of strange rock formations, colorful strata and the swift Charyn River, a favorite with expert rafters.

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Journeys that travel to Charyn Canyon

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When to Travel to Kazakhstan

National Holidays

Almaty, Kazakhstan

National Holidays in Kazakhstan, such as Constitution Day, Victory Day and Independence Day are often celebrated with national games, fireworks, street fairs and parades.

Local Festivals

In addition to national holidays, festivals celebrating both Kazakhstan’s nomadic past and its contemporary culture are held throughout the year. These events include demonstrations of traditional craft, hunting techniques, song, dance and costume. However, due to the unscripted nature of life in Kazakhstan, celebrations are often planned at the last minute, making it impossible to plan to visit a year in advance. Happening upon a holiday or cultural festival is all the more special as a result.

Navruz (March)

The tradition of Navruz started as a Zoroastrian festival to celebrate the spring equinox. The ancient people closely followed the celestial cycle and noticed that when the hours of daylight started to equal the hours of darkness, the seasons changed and new life was born.

The Persians celebrated the start of the new year at this time, and spent the thirteen days following Navruz settling debts and mending relationships in order to set a positive tone for the upcoming year. In Kazakhstan, families burn archa twigs to rid their houses of evil spirits. The celebration continues with a plentiful feast of traditional dishes such as plov, boiled mutton and kok-samsa pies. The abundant meal is symbolic of a year of good crops and health. Navruz is also fêted with traditional horse games, song and dance.

Ramadan (dates vary by year)

The Islamic holiday, Ramadan, is a time when Muslims focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and strengthening their relationship to God. The holiday lasts a month, and during this period, Muslims fast during daylight hours, eating only before sunrise and after sunset. Islamic teachings explain that without the distraction of attending to physical needs and worldly matters, one is better able to focus on reforming one’s spiritual self. The religious pray more often than the rest of the year, and dedicate themselves to acts of charity. Some scholars believe the name is derived from the Arabic word for “scorching,” referring to the holiday’s power to “scorch” away past sins.