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100100
Tashkent, Uzbekistan

E-mail: sales.tashkent@sitara.com

Phone (Uzbekistan): (99871) 2814148, (99871) 2814149, (99871) 2553504

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Great Steppes of Central Asia

  • Itinerary:
    Astana - Borovoe - Astana - Atyrau - Aktau - Bautino - Shakpak Ata - Aktau - Shymkent - Turkestan - Otrar - Shymkent - Akyrtas - Taraz - Shymkent - Almaty
  • Duration:
    13 days / 12 nights
  • Price:
    on request
  • Tour program
    Itinerary of «Great Steppes of Central Asia»
    Day 01: Arrive Astana – Flt
    meeting on arrival assistance and transfer to hotel.
    Welcome Dinner at local restaurant
    overnight (D)

    Day 02: Astana
    We shall spend the day visiting the new metropolis – Astana which is growing with every
    passing day we shall visit the new capital of Kazakhstan. Our sightseeing starts with visit to Baiterek Tower – symbol of a growing tree of life with a golden globe symbolizing the egg of the bird of fortune – Semurg. Afterwards drive to Presidential with background of beautiful Esil river passing through the city adds to the grandeur of the capital.We shall then drive to see the Peace & Concord monument Later visit Nur Astana Mosque – a commitment to Kazakh faith in Islam. We shall then visit Khan Shatyr tent! then Duman huge shopping center, café and meeting places. Next visit Kazmunaigaz building in traditional Russian architecture. We shall then drive to Presidential Cultural Center – see the Kazakh Ethnic Museum.
    In the evening see the Opera & Ballet Theatre for evening performance
    Overnight (B,L,D)

    Astana:
    The rising capital of Kazakhstan is fast developing into an economic hub of Central
    Asia. Until 1998 was the suburb of Akmolinsky region, Astana was chosen to be the
    new capital of Kazakhstan shifting from Almaty. The planning of Astana has been done
    on modern cities like Brasilia by famous Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. Astana
    has developed as an architectural symbol of the region with modern buildings
    depicting Kazakh cultural heritage, modern Islamic architecture, Russian and even
    Chinese architecture – keeping inview various ethnic groups living in modern
    Kazakhstan. The vicinities of Astana were small settlements till 1830 when it was
    developed as the a defensive settlement for the Cossacks in 1832 under the name as
    Akmolinsky settlement.
    Climatically Astana is fast changing from harsh weather conditions to a more friendly
    habitat – thanks to huge horticulture projects with growth of trees since the start is
    now paying back.

    Day 03: Astana/Borovoe – 258 kms
    Depart for the picturesque Lake Borovoe situated in the foot hills of Kokshe mountain range.
    Northern Kazakhstan has many lakes spread throughout the region. Lake Borovoe is one of beautiful spots with dense pine and spruce forest around the lake. The archaeological explorations suggest the presence burrow culture which is related to Scythian settlements
    around the lake
    On arrival transfer to hotel by the lake
    Later after Lunch we shall take round trip of the lake – see Zhumbektas (Sphinx rock) amid picturesque view
    Dinner and overnight (B,L,D)

    Day 04: Borovoe/Astana - Road
    morning visit Burabay village – we shall interact with local family
    lunch at the family house
    later depart for Astana and on arrival transfer to hotel
    Overnight (B,L,D)

    Day 05: Astana/Atyrau – Train 019T – 1840 hrs
    early morning we shall make excursion to Korgalzhin lakes – these lakes serve as the transit station for the huge colonies of migratory birds nesting here bi-annual migration. For the bird lovers these stations become a paradise watching bird life from March-end May and then from mid Aug-mid Oct are best periods. April/May we can see some rare wild tulips in their original homeland. These lakes are home to many local flora and fauna there is a well established monitoring center providing excellent information on the bird and animal life around the whole region.
    Later return to Astana and shortly before the city we shall visit Malinkova to see Alzhir camp site used during the Stalin for interning families of ‘the enemies of the people’. We shall visit Arch of Sorrow, the small Museum depicting how the life was in those difficult days. There also one original carriage wagon and some statues
    we shall then continue to Astana and later transfer to Railway Station for our overnight train to western Kazakhstan. (bedding & food provided)
    Overnight onboard the train (B,L,D)

    Day 06: Arrive Atyrau – 1725 hrs
    Good morning!! a good sun rise on our comfortable modern train – we shall have a hearty
    Breakfast looking at the passing steppes occasionally see the villages while having short
    stops. We take the route which goes close to Russian territories while more southern steppes was the main route of the Silk Road towns where caravans stopped are now mere archaeological remains
    Lunch served onboard the coach
    We shall arrive in the late afternoon and transferred to hotel with nice views of Caspian Sea
    Dinner and overnight (B,L,D)

    Day 07: Atyrau/Aktau – SA750 – 0820/0910 hrs
    Aktau/Fort Shevchenko/Bautino – 140 kms
    morning flight to Aktau on arrival we shall visit Mangystau Regional Museum of History &
    local Lore. Later depart for Fort Shevchenko (140 kms) – we shall make first stop at Akshykur village to visit the interesting necropolis of Koshkarata. The tombs and graves are of immense importance as this seems to be grave yard of the Silk Road caravaneers as the graves are diversely different from each other.
    Later continue our drive along the western coastline of Caspian to the Gulf of Mangyhslak.
    On arrival at Bautino transfer to hotel 
    After Lunch we shall visit Shevchenko’s Museum – Taras Shevchenko was an Ukrainian poet and painter who was exiled in 1850 for anti-Tzarist poetry and was sent to this isolated location where stood fort. We shall see his writings and water colors and some ethnic elements in the museum. Later drive for 25 kms east along the coast of the gulf to Tamshaly Canyon – it is an interesting rock formation in the sun setting views are great
    Afterwards return to Bautino in the late afternoon
    overnight (B,L,D)

    Aktau:
    This is the prospect point on the Caspian settlements, Aktau was a natural stopping
    point on the Silk Road as the caravans coming from present day Dehistan ruined
    settlement of 8th or 9th AD. Before heading for the land or sea course caravans rested
    here for some weeks before heading for the Black Sea
    From stone age to early historic period, the archaeological finds date some
    Settlements to bronze age which most probably were the Scythian migrations around
    08th BC the beginning of the state of Scythia and this is testified from the remains
    found in various Black Sea settlements of the same period – the Pontic Caspian
    settlements. The continuous migrations and invasions must been part of this region
    however, the settlement period begins with Seljuks extending their prowess to the
    upper reaches of Caspian Sea. The Mongol invasion and subsequent replacement of
    indigenous tribes ended up in the sub-division of the land Chengiz Khan had acquired
    among his kin which was later seen in further divisions assimilating among the local
    population and their adaptation their culture and religion. These were then the various
    Turco-Mongol tribes which we see today in the Kazakhs who themselves were divided
    in three groups or Juz. Since then they are the masters of the land which has wide
    expanse of soil in rich in mineral wealth

    Day 08: Bautino/Shakpak Ata/Aktau – 195 kms
    We shall depart in the morning for one of the unique secular establishment among the
    limestone caves in Mangystau region. We shall first reach the shrine where are pilgrims
    throng form nearby and far off countryside to pay homage to Shakpak Ata dating 9th or 10th AD was one of the Sufi hermit lived here. Later we shall see the interesting part of the complex is the underground mosque – pay attention to etched writing and figures.
    Mangyshlak was a Silk Road settlement as it was linked to Dehistan settlement southwards in Turkmenistan – these present settlement ruins date from 9th 10th AD being the earlier period of Arab influence in these parts
    We shall then return to Aktau and on arrival transfer to hotel overlooking
    Caspian Sea
    Overnight (B,L,D)

    Day 09: Aktau/Shymkent – SA710 – 0815/1115 hrs
    Shymkent/Turkestan – 160 kms
    morning flight to Shymkent – on arrival we shall proceed to a local restaurant for Lunch later depart for Turkestan. Arrival and transfer to hotel 
    later we shall visit Ahmed Yassawi’s complex – sun setting photography
    overnight (B,L,D)

    Khoja Ahmed Yassawi:
    A very revered mendicant a great sage, Khoja Ahmed Yassawi was born in 1093 AD in
    the village of Sayram not far from Symkent. Khoja Ahmed Yassawi studied Islamic
    jurisprudence(fiqah) with many scholars of his time like one Yousaf Hamdani and
    Abudul Khaliq Gijduvani in Bukhara district whereas Bukhara had become hub of
    scholarly studies. He was from a scholarly family and his brought up in such a family
    was an asset to him though at the age of seven his scholarly father had died. Khoja
    Ahmed Yassawi in madrassahs of Bukhara had grown into a scholar of high order. His
    further studies in Turkestan under his spiritual mentor Arsalan Baba and then
    isolation (Chillah – 40 days) in deep meditation to rise to a highest spiritual status
    becoming the leading Sufi mystic giving birth to his order which was later known as
    Yassawiya Sufi order. These were the days when Slejuk power was at its height and
    their love for scholars in attendance at their courts, Ahmed Yassawi must have been
    greatly revered in the region. Also being from a highly respected family soon Khoja
    Ahmed Yassawi was considered by the local population as great sage of his times. He
    became an important vehicle of spreading Islam among the Turkic speaking region.
    He died in 1166 AD in Turkestan by the time he had wide spiritual influence throughout
    Central Asia. His mausoleum was re-built on the orders of Emperor Timur(Tamerlane)
    according to his wishes as he himself was greatly struck by his spirituality and
    considered him as his spiritual mentor. His main tomb is similar to Tamerlane’s in
    Samarkand whereas his own tomb similar shows the respect, Khoja Ahmed Yassawi
    enjoyed with Tamerlane.

    Day 10: Turkestan/Otrar/Shymkent – 200 kms
    morning revisit Ahmed Yassawi Complex – visit the shrine and later walk to various secular parts associated to the great Turkestan Ascetic. Also visit the site museum of the complex
    afterwards depart for Shymkent via Otrar – visit the Otrar archaeological site and the
    museum. Otrar was an important eastern town of the Shah of Khorezm but was raised and burnt by the Mongols under Chengiz Khan in 1225 AD. It was infact punitive expedition initially but later on it continued, devastating town after town. The impact of Mongol invasion lasted for many decades as the local populace was mercilessly killed.
    later continue to Shymkent and on arrival transfer to hotel
    evening we shall drive around the town built during the Soviet times as an industrial site
    known for producing armament and bullets used for military purpose. Now the bustling town is undergoing a great change giving concrete structure to modern day buildings
    overnight (B,L,D)

    Day 11: Shymkent/Akyrtas/Taraz – 255 kms
    morning depart for Taraz – shall continue to Akyrtas to see the ruins of a Silk Road city.
    Later drive back and proceed to Taraz and on arrival transfer to hotel
    After lunch we shall visit the other archaeological sites and tombs of Aisha Bibi
    Overnight (B,L,D)

    Taraz & Akyrtas: The southern steppes of Kazakhstan was a perfect place for many
    cities as we called them Silk Road sites today were referred as rich cities of
    Transoxania. Akyrtas was no doubt one the similar cities and when the Arabs arrived
    here it was already a living town in 8th AD. The local population was of Turkic origin
    called Qarluks who may have been the earliest Tribes of Goturk Khanate roaming in
    the steppes before settling in present day Akyrtas site which could be dated back to
    2nd Ad or even 1st BC. During the Turkic confederacy of the local rulers called
    Karluks and at that time population was professing Buddhism where as earlier to this
    period they must have been Shamanist or Animist along with other nomads of the
    Zhyetsu (seven rivers) Nestorian monks had established a church as we can see
    crosses and signs on rocks found here. Even there is record of people professing
    Manichean religion. The Chinese invasions of these parts records defeating the local
    Turkic people. We shall see well defined streets with well placed huge stones assures
    us of nicely laid out city plan. Though with the passage of time and abandonment has
    left only the town plan which is still very interesting to see.

    Taraz or Talas: Taraz was an important and well inhabited town with river Talas flowing
    past. This could be the eastern most extension of Sogdiana with admixture of Turkic
    tribal groups. Again yet another town on the Great Silk Road, Taraz is situated in the
    foothills of Talas range. Finds of stone age period from the caves situated in the
    nearby mountain range, then as of many sites Scythian tribes in the land of seven
    rivers have been found here in Taraz. Around 2nd AD Turkic population alongwith
    Sogdians flourished in this region. The Chinese invasion of Taraz and the famous
    battle along present day Talas river was fought around 750 AD between joint armies of
    Chinese and Karakhitays but were defeated by the Arabs. However Arabs made a
    tactical retreat leaving Karakhitays as master for a short period. Later to be converted
    as Kara Khanid were of Uighur stock but after the conversion they established
    themselves as one of the strongest ruling dynasty in the later years to come.
    We can see the earlier sites of the Arab period and then later Kara Khanid which
    suggest us of a well developed city on the Silk Road. In the outskirts of town we can
    see Aisha Bibi’s tomb in the best of red sandstone with another tomb of her nurse
    nearby.

    Day 12: Taraz/Shymkent – 175 kms
    Shymkent/Almaty – KC972 – 1000/1115 hrs
    Early morning depart for Shymkent and onto airport for flight to Almaty
    On arrival transfer to Holiday Inn
    Afternoon sightseeing tour of Almaty town – visit Panfilov Park, Zhenkov’s Holy
    Ascension Cathedral, later visit State Museum of History. Afterwards see local bazaar and
    drive through the town seeing City Mosque
    evening visit Kok Tyube – for grand view of the surrounding countryside
    Farewell Dinner at local restaurant
    Overnight (B,L,D)

    Day 13: Almaty/Depart – Flt
    morning transfer to airport for your departure flight
    assistance on departure
  • Details
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