Top places to visit in Kazakhstan during the summer | Top Universities
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Top places to visit in Kazakhstan during the summer

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Baurzhan Irisbayev

Updated Sep 12, 2022
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Burabay National Park

Kazakhstan is a country of amazing natural landscapes, plenty of adventure, culture and delicious food. As a student at JSC South Kazakhstan Medical Academy in Shymkent, the summer break is a perfect time to explore the country and make the most of the holidays.  

From beautiful beaches and lakes to famous landmarks, the biggest club nights and even a mud bath, here are my favourite places to visit in Kazakhstan during the summer:  

The city of Aktau 

 

 

Along the coast of the Caspian Sea is the city of Aktau, home to beautiful beaches like Marrakesh, Manila and Nur Plaza. It’s the perfect location for swimming, sunbathing and jumping into the water from the coastal cliffs (making sure they are safe first).  

In Aktau, you can find lots of restaurants offering both national and international dishes. I like Ai restaurant and Duman café, where you can choose from various savoury and sweet pastries like baklava. Aktau also has a good nightclub called Eliko, which has a good mix of students, young people, international tourists and an interesting variety of music.   

If architecture is your thing, Aktau has amazing structures like the Melovaya Lighthouse, artistic sculptures and high-rise buildings that have been constructed on legs, or stilts, above the ground.  

Aktau is 2,000km from Shymkent, where I study, but it’s easy to get to by plane. A return flight costs the equivalent of US$50 (~£43 GBP) and takes two hours. With the beautiful weather, bright blue sea and sandy beaches, it feels like a summer holiday abroad.  

 

Charyn Canyon 

 

Charyn Canyon is known as the younger sibling of the Grand Canyon in the United States, because of its similar mountainous landscape. I booked a tour with an expert instructor to conquer the peaks and felt like a real climber. 

The canyon was named after Charyn River, which flows through the middle. When I visited, I tried fishing and rafting for the first time. With friends, I rented an SUV to explore the whole area including the Valley of Castles, where the rocks naturally form the shapes of ancient temples and palaces. Ash Grove is home to Sogdian ash trees and Asian poplars that have been growing for over a century.  

After a busy day exploring, you can relax in the Saki baths and eat at a local café, where you can try baursaks (small pastries fried in oil), koumiss (horse milk) and beshparmak (a traditional Kazakh meal of boiled dough and horse meat).   

From Shymkent, I can reach Charyn Canyon by flying to Almaty in one hour, then driving to the canyon in a further three hours. It’s a great adventure and will cost around US$50 (~£43 GBP). 

 

Borovoe resort  

 

 

Also known as Burabay, the resort surrounds a huge lake in Burabay National Park. I visited Borovoe at the beginning of June when the water was already warm and ready for swimming. The shore is sandy and the water is clear, so you can see lots of fish like pike, crucian carp and perch. 

You can rent boats and catamarans to explore the lake and even hike in the mountains. I booked a tour with a local instructor who helped me conquer some of the more difficult climbs.  

From the mountain peaks, you’ll find a stunning view of the whole area including Mount Kokshetau, Mount Burabay (which resembles the humps of a camel), and Mount Zheke-Batyr, emerging from the azure waters of the bay.  

There’s even a mud spa where you can cover yourself in natural clay, as well as bungee jumping, trampolining and lots more activities to make the most of your experience. I returned from my visit to Borovoe in a great mood and ready to study again. 

From Shymkent, I can fly to Astana and catch a bus to the resort for around US$55-85 (~£45-75 GBP). Not too expensive for an action-packed holiday! 

  

Kok-Tobe 

 

 

Kok-Tobe park is one of the greatest places in Almaty, Kazakhstan and maybe even in Kazakhstan as a whole. The park is located at the top of Kok-Tobe Mountain, 1,100 metres above sea level and a five-minute drive from the city centre.  

When I arrived in Kok-Tobe, I went straight to the fountain, made a wish and threw in a coin, before heading to the local restaurant ‘Abai’ for something to eat. The restaurant is located inside a traditional yurt and decorated in Kazakh style with many chandeliers and lamps.  

There is a zoo inside Kok-Tobe park, where I saw cockatoos, peacocks, lama guanacos, pheasants, deer and ostriches.  

When it goes dark, the ferris wheel becomes the best way to view the landscape, featuring unforgettable mountains and the twinkling lights of Almaty.  

While in Almaty, I took the time to visit one of the largest glass labyrinths in Central Asia and even went to a party in the evening where we danced bachata, salsa and Zumba with Almaty locals.  

 

If you decide to spend your summer break in Kazakhstan, you can still feel like you’re on holiday with a trip to explore beaches, lakes and mountains before settling back into university life.  

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