Kazakhstan, which is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia, is home to plenty of fascinating monuments and scenic attractions. The country's vast terrain includes flatlands, rock canyons, deserts, and snowcapped mountains. Almaty, its former capital, is a wonderful city filled with parks, fountains, and modern architecture, and the current capital of Astana is growing in prestige and population.
Sightseeing opportunities abound on Kazakhstan travel itineraries, from the scenic mountains, parks, and cathedrals to famous landmarks. Almaty is known for its city squares and cathedrals, including the Zenkov Cathedral, which was finished in 1907 and built entirely of wood. Also known as Ascension Cathedral, the Zenkov is the second-tallest wooden building in the world. This colorful cathedral survived the 1910 earthquake, and after the Russian Revolution it became a cultural and historic museum. Today, the Zenkov church enjoys its restored status of a Russian Orthodox Church. The cathedral is located in Panfilov Park in Almaty Kazakhstan.
Other Kazakhstan landmarks such as the Obelisk of Independence, the Central State Museum, and the New Square are located in Almaty. If you want to experience the festive spirit of Kazakhstan, then visit the New Square, also known as Republic Square, near the City Hall building. Known for its vibrant parades and festivals, the square is an excellent place to spend a wonderful summer evening. Founded in 1960, the New Square is the favorite destination of the local Kazakhs because of its close resemblance to the enticing Kazakh steppe. Travelers interested in culture are also sure to enjoy the State Art Museum and the Central State Museum, which exhibits traditional Kazakh carpets, clothing, and jewelry.
No vacation in Kazakhstan would be complete without seeing the remains of the great mausoleums in Southern Kazakhstan, which date from the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. The Khoja Ahmed Yasawi mausoleum, dating from the late 1300s and located in Hazrat-e Turkestan, is the largest in Central Asia. Turkestan is an important historic city in southern Kazakh with rich archaeological evidence dating back to the fourth century AD. Known as the Second Mecca, the city has several historic sites including a medieval bath-house and mausoleums of Kazakh rulers, called Khans. Central Kazakhstan travel itineraries also offer great opportunities to glimpse of ancient relics, such as rock engravings and stone sculptures at the Bayan-Aul National Park in the Bayan-Aul Mountains, which attract numerous tourists to the region.
Besides ancient monuments, there are several nature reserves that will certainly appeal to outdoor Kazakhstan travel enthusiasts. The southern region of the country is home to a UNESCO biosphere reserve called Aksu-Zhabagly, which is home to more than 200 species of birds and 1,000 species of plants. This nature reserve is situated 3,280 feet above sea level and also has more than 40 species of animals in addition to the birds. The Kurgaldjino in Central Kazakhstan is an important natural reserve. Home to the beautiful flamingos and interesting plant species, Kurgaldjino attracts thousands of tourists from around the world.
There are several other outdoor things to do on a vacation in Kazakhstan. The mountain ranges and rough landscapes present unusual hiking opportunities for the adventure-loving crowd. The warmer months between June and September are the best time to enjoy a trekking tour at the Altai Mountains. If you are looking for a mountain guide, then join the Khan-Tengri International Mountaineering Camp to seek help planning organized climbing and trekking tours. There are also local tour operators that provide hiking and trekking tours to the Altai Mountains.
Kazakhstan also offers outstanding winter sports opportunities. The Medeu rink near Almaty is a perfect place to enjoy ice skating, and the Chimbulak winter sports complex in the one-time capital city is also an excellent skating and skiing area. The Zaili Alatau Mountains near Almaty present wonderful skiing and other recreation opportunities, and you can even participate in various ski competitions during the summer months, between April and August. The average high temperature in the summer months in this part of the country is about 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and the snow is quite soft and makes an excellent skiing surface. Tourists interested in spending time outdoors on a vacation in Kazakhstan should not miss the various ski activities at sport complexes and mountains around Almaty.