Monthly Archives: March 2016

Kazakhstan Bucket List!

With it’s location on the Silk Road, nomads of the steppes, mix of ethnicities and vast network of lakes and rivers there are many interesting  places to visit within Kazakhstan:

This list will grow, I am sure.

  • Stay in a Yurt on the steppes
  • Eat and drink local delicacies – horse and fermented milk! Have eaten horse – avoided the milk so far…
  • Baikonur Cosmodrom – I want to see a launch to International Space Station! as well as the museum etc. (20th October 2016)
  • Visit Sayram, the city of countless mausoleums of saints. This city was mentioned in the Zoroastrian Holy Book and a key staging post on the Silk Road
  • Visit the Saryarka Plains
  • Go skiing (well perhaps just the apres ski scene) in Shymkent
  • Visit Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s home in Semey
  • Visit the historic cities of Taraz and Turkestan (21st and 23rd October 2016)
  • See the Caspian Sea and port of Atyrau
  • Visit Charyn Canyon (April 2018), the valley of castles and walk through the pre-historic aspen groves
  • Saka Mounds
  • Karabulak Gorge
  • Borovoe National Reserve, pine forests and health spas. -Yes!
  • See the petroglyphs of Tamgali-Tas, an UNESCO site of natural beauty
  • Otrar, monument to Ghengis Khan and the Mausoleum of Sufi poet and mystic, Khoja Ahmed Yassavy – UNESCO cultural site (21st October 2016)
  • Aisha-Bibi mausoleum and it’s fretted teracotta
  • Babdya Khatun for it’s intricate umbrella dome
  • Visit Aksu-Dzhabagly reserve – Giant Asku Canyon
  • Altyn-Emel National Park to see the Bronze Age relics and structures
  • Aqsu-Zhabaghly Nature Reserve and the Asku River

As for slightly further afield focusing on the Silk Road:

  • Samarkand
  • Khiva
  • Bukhara
  • Tashkent
  • Tblisi
  • Bishkek
  • Karakol

…lots am sure I have not heard of yet!

Kazakh National Days – a lot to celebrate!

Since 1991 the country, under their first President, Nursultan Nazarbayez either directly or indirectly has been instrumental in making Kazakhstan the nation it is today:

  • First former Soviet state to become nuclear free
  • Country elected to the UN Human’s Rights Council
  • Election of hosting the 2017 World Expo
  • Country became chair of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe
  • Country chaired the Organisation for the Islamic Community
  • Part of the World Trade Organisation
  • First Asian country to earn a credit rating by Standard and Poor’s
  • Pay back all IMF loans in 7 years
  • Nurture an Olympic Team that would win 7 gold medals at London 2012 Olympics


Kazakhstan has every right to be proud of it’s achievements both as a nation and as a part of the global economy and to acknowledge some very important cultural, religious and political landmarks with national holidays:

  • New Year, January
  • Orthodox Christmas Day, January
  • International Women’s Day – March
  • Nauryz, March – also known as Iranian New year this festival marks the vernal equinox and the start of spring. It has been celebrated for over 3000 years in Central Asia and following independence became an important part of the annual calendar. The festival of Nauryz has, since 2009, been on the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Heritage and Humanity events.
  • Unity Day , May – with over 131 ethnicities represented in this diverse nation a day to celebrate those who make up the nation of Kazakhstan is a colourful and exiting time
  • Defender of the Fatherland, May – A time to pay tribute to those who dedicate and have dedicated their lives to protect their native lands
  • Victory Day, May – This day marks the unconditional surrender of Germany in Moscow at the end of WW2 and to remember those who fell in this conflict
  • Day of the Capital, July – A day celebration of Astana, the capital since 1997
  • Constitution Day, August – Marking the day that the independent peoples of Kazakhstan approved the new draft consitution in 1995
  • Kurban Bairam – Islamic festival also known as Eid al-Adha
  • President’s Day , December – celebrating the election of the first president in 1991 and acknowledging his achievements
  • Independence Day, December – Marking independence from the Soviet Union in 1991


What do I know about Kazakhstan?

As it is going to be my new country of residence for the next couple of years or more I had a bit of a brain storm and quick research about this potential ‘Dubai of the steppes’.

  • Host of the 2017 Expo
  • 9th largest country in the world – larger than all the EU countries combined
  • largest land-locked country in the world
  • Astana has been the capital since 1997 – annual Day of the Capital national holiday on July 6th
  • Astana is the 2nd coldest capital in the world
  • Population of approximately 18 million
  • Capital has population of less than 1 million
  • Nursultan Nazarbayev has been president since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 – annual President’s Day  national holiday on December 1st
  • Country is bordered by 5 other nations: China, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Russia
  • Nuclear weapon free
  • Country competitors won 12 gold medals in London Olympics, 2012
  • Part of the Silk Road
  • Yurts
  • Vast steppes
  • Horses – both to ride and to eat
  • Mineral, oil and gas rich
  • Ghengis Khan
  • Baikonur Cosmodrome – currently only place were humans are launched into space
  • Country has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites for culture: city of Turkestan and Chang’an – Tianshan Silk Road corridor, Koja Ahmed Yassavy Mausoleum and the Tamely-Tas rock carvings.
  • County also has an UNESCO World Heritage Site for natural beauty: Tamely-Tas rock carvings
  • Both the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation and the Khan Shatyr shopping mall and entertainment centre (with a beach) were designed by Sir Norman Foster

According to the website, Astana is 66% cheaper to live in than Dubai.

I am sure I will be adding more to this list as I explore this vast country with such ethnic diversity and culture.