Kazakhstan Travel Guide

Caravanistan – Kazakhstan

Lonely Planet – Kazakhstan

Rough Guide – Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan: is the world’s largest landlocked country, and the ninth largest in the world, with an area of 2,724,900 square kilometres (1,052,100 sq mi). It is a transcontinental country largely located in Asia; the most western parts are in Europe. Kazakhstan is the dominant nation of Central Asia economically, generating 60% of the region’s GDP, primarily through its oil and gas industry. It also has vast mineral resources.

Kazakhstan is officially a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic with a diverse cultural heritage. Kazakhstan shares borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and also adjoins a large part of the Caspian Sea. The terrain of Kazakhstan includes flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. Kazakhstan has an estimated 18.3 million people as of 2018. Given its large land area, its population density is among the lowest, at less than 6 people per square kilometre (15 people per sq mi). The capital is Astana (officially renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019), where it was moved in 1997 from Almaty, the country’s largest city.

The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by groups included the nomadic groups and empires. In antiquity, the nomadic Scythians have inhabited the land and the Persian Achaemenid Empire expanded towards the southern territory of the modern country. Turkic nomads who trace their ancestry to many Turkic states such as Turkic Khaganate etc have inhabited the country throughout the country’s history. In the 13th century, the territory joined the Mongolian Empire under Genghis Khan. By the 16th century, the Kazakh emerged as a distinct group, divided into three jüz (ancestor branches occupying specific territories). The Russians began advancing into the Kazakh steppe in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century, they nominally ruled all of Kazakhstan as part of the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, and subsequent civil war, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganised several times. In 1936, it was made the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Soviet Union.

Kazakhstan was the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence during the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the first President of Kazakhstan, was characterized as an authoritarian, and his government was accused of numerous human rights violations, including suppression of dissent and censorship of the media. Nazarbayev resigned in March 2019, with Senate Chairman Kassym-Jomart Tokayev taking office as Interim President. Kazakhstan has worked to develop its economy, especially its dominant hydrocarbon industry. Human Rights Watch says that “Kazakhstan heavily restricts freedom of assembly, speech, and religion”, and other human rights organisations regularly describe Kazakhstan’s human rights situation as poor.

Kazakhstan’s 131 ethnicities include Kazakhs (63% of the population), Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, and Uyghurs. Islam is the religion of about 70% of the population, with Christianity practised by 26%. Kazakhstan officially allows freedom of religion, but religious leaders who oppose the government are suppressed. The Kazakh language is the state language, and Russian has equal official status for all levels of administrative and institutional purposes. Kazakhstan is a member of the United Nations, WTO, CIS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union, CSTO, OSCE, OIC, and TURKSOY.

Stage Notes

Stage 26 Karaozek (Russia) – Kotyayevka Kazakhstan border – Kobykovo

Almost no information for this stage. It’s short at 38 miles which I expect is intended to give plenty of time for the border crossing.

Stage 27 Kobykovo – Zhanbay

A ride across the top of the Caspian Sea to Zhanbay. You might be surprised to find yourselves cycling below sea-level. I wonder how your Garmins will cope!

Atyrau – Kazakhstan

Stage 28 Zhanbay – Atyrau

Atyrau is a large port city on the Ural River and one of the main ports on the Caspian Sea. It is also below sea-level and it’s going to be hot.

Stage 29 Atyrau – Dossor

Dossor is a small town: no further details. The area seems to contain numerous lakes – these maybe shallow salt pans.

Stage 30 Dossor – Kulsary

Kulsary is an Oil town of 50,000 people. Wiki says it has a remarkable cemetery with huge domes bigger than houses.

Stage 31 Kulsary – Опорная станциясы: no information at all about this place.


Stage 32 Опорная станциясы – Beyneu

Beyneu was not much more than a village in the 1970s. Then Oil and Gas was discovered. This description however seems to indicate that it is more interesting than it might appear: it also contains information on places to stay & eat. Also this is your last night in Kazakhstan.