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What to do in Kazakhstan

Ski down slopes

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Friends on the ski slopes

With all the mountain ranges in Kazakhstan and the snow naturally covering the ground one-third of the year, skiing is a popular sport in the country. There are multiple tourist-friendly skiing locations in Kazakhstan, both for amateurs and professionals.

If you wish to do skiing as a leisure sport, the Chimbulak skiing resort in Almaty is a popular destination. The ski resort features a 3,000 meter long downhill slope that amateurs can enjoy. You’d have to take a long ride by cable car to reach the top, though.

Additional activities here include hiking and mountain climbing.

For the more serious ski enthusiasts, take a trip to the Medeo Complex, the world’s biggest high-mountain winter sports complex. It used to be just a skating rink, but is now a sprawling complex for snow sports lovers that is visited by people from all over the world.

Aside from skiing, the complex offers practically every winter sport, with ice being maintained for eight months in the year.

Relax at a spa

Young woman getting massage in bamboo spa.

The best way to relax in Kazakhstan is to indulge yourself in a spa – there is an abundant number of spas in the country, offering various treatments, and scattered around the country in different urban and rural locations. To give you an idea, there are 98 sanatorium holiday hotels and 115 preventative medicine sanatoria in Kazakhstan.

Most of the spa resorts in the country are located in common tourist areas such as sports facilities, cultural buildings, and archaeological and historical sites. You can also find some high in the mountains or nestled in the valleys for the ultimate getaway experience.

The most popular spa resorts in Kazakhstan include Sari Agach in southern Kazakhstan, Mujaldi in Pavlodar, Arasan-Kapal in Taldikorgan, Jani-Kurgan in Kzil-Orda, Kokshetau and Zerenda in Kokshetau, and those that are located in Zaili Alatau.

You will find that a couple of hours is too short a time to spend in these spas. Once you see how natural and relaxing the treatments are, you would want to spend a whole day there.

Hike mountains

The mountains of Kazakhstan are natural wonders that are just perfect for tourists to hike in. Each mountain, each crevice, and each rock has a unique story to tell the tourists that take the time to explore them.

And with so many possible hiking spots, the stories are practically endless.

The Zaili Alatau Mountains near the city of Almaty offers various hiking trails. The Tien Shan Mountains that can be found in southeastern Kazakhstan stretches 1,500 kilometers – imagine how many hiking spots there are in that distance!

The highest peaks in the Tien Shan are the Pobeda Peak at 7,439 meters and the Khan-Tengri Peak at 7,010 meters.

The Kungei Alatau range is another popular hiking spot because from here, you can marvel at the Kolsai Lakes – three blue mountain lakes that are also known as the “pearls of the Tien-Shan.”

If you are up to a hiking adventure, Kazakhstan has so much to offer you. Even a leisurely stroll through picturesque mountains is a worthwhile experience on its own.

 Explore petroglyphs

Ute rock art

Petrogylphs are engravings made on rock surfaces. These petrogylphs were used by ancient people to leave messages and tell stories about their lives during that time.

There is an abundance of petrogylphs in Kazakhstan, made by the ancient Kazakhs, specifically in the region of Tamgaly in the Anrakhai Mountains – 170 kilometers northwest of Almaty. Most of the petroglyphs can be found in the lower parts of the main canyon, as well as in the adjacent side canyon.

There are approximately 2,000 petrogylphs in the main canyon. These petrogylphs include pictures of idols with the sun as heads, warriors in disguise, married couples, and women giving birth.

There are also petroglyphs with many figures at the same time, depicting people hunting animals. There are many symbols of suns all throughout the canyon, showing the importance of the sun to the ancient Kazakhs.

Seeing these petrogylphs will give you a glimpse of ancient Kazakhstan and a deeper appreciation of how they have developed their country to where it is today.

Go rafting at the Charyn River

Ride a kayak along the Jordan River

The Charyn River is a 255 kilometer long river that cuts through the Charyn Canyon. The first part of the river is also known as the Shalkydysu, the middle part is also known as the Kegen. The Charyn River also has several small tributaries and then there is one big tributary, called the Temerlik.

The Charyn River is turbulent and full flowing, with an average annual flow of 33.2 cubic meters. Because it gets most of its water supply from precipitation, the water levels are at their highest from May to June, the rainiest months.

There are four sections of rapids in the Charyn – the Muinakskie cascades in the first part that are of the waterfall type, the Tau-Teke rapids that are called “toothbrush” rapids, and then the Saigak and Armadillo I and II rapids in the section approaching the Charyn River checkpoint.

For the adrenaline junkies, rafting at the Charyn River is a tumultuous ride. However, conquering the Charyn should be on your list if you are into extreme sports.