Hi there, and welcome to Kazakhstan! There’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of this Central Asian destination — but, believe it or not, it’s actually the largest land-locked country in the world and the ninth largest nation overall.
It’s bordered by China, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, and perhaps the best way to arrive in Kazakhstan is by driving over from Kyrgyzstan. This drive is a beautiful, eight-hour road trip through the gorgeous Tian Shan Mountains, where you won’t see many people but you’ll come across plenty of horses and sheep.
Without further ado, here are five things about Kazakhstan that just might inspire your next adventure.
1) Kazakhstan boasts delicious food — especially apples.
Almaty, the capital city of Kazakhstan, is believed to be the birthplace of apples. There are still wild apple trees growing in Almaty today, and “Almaty” even means “father of apples.”
This bustling city is home to impressive local markets, where you can buy delicious breads, meat and dairy products, and — of course — a lot of fruit!
2) Kazakhstan’s culture is fascinating, and its buildings are beautiful.
Most people in Kazakhstan are Muslim, but you won’t see (or hear) many mosques or Christian churches in this country. During the Soviet Period, many of the mosques were used for other purposes, such as playing basketball.
That said, Almaty still has a few beautiful Orthodox churches. One of them, a wooden cathedral that’s painted yellow and red and blue and green, is located in a peaceful park. Its designer was a Russian architect named Andrei Pavlovich Zenkov, and interestingly enough, the church was built without using any nails.
3) Kazakhstan is famous for its horses.
Historians believe that Kazakhstan is the birthplace of horses, as well as the first place where man learned to ride a horse. The country is still known for its extremely large wild horse population.
Just like the Kyrgyzs, the Kazakhs eat horse meat, and they practice falcon hunting — often from (you guessed it) horseback.
4) Kazakhstan is home to both manmade and natural wonders.
Kazakhstan is one of the most developed nations in all of Central Asia. It boasts one of the highest-elevation ice rinks in the world, as well as the planet’s tallest TV tower, and it’s even possible to ride a cable car while you’re exploring the green mountain on the outskirts of Almaty.
The Charyn Canyon (sometimes called Kazakhstan’s Grand Canyon) joins the Tian Shan Mountains on the list of Kazakhstan’s most impressive natural features. In some places, the canyon reaches nearly 1,000 feet in depth, and its orange, yellow, and brown sedimentary layers are a sight to behold.
5. Kazakhstan has played a significant role in space exploration.
Just a few years ago, Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union. This country has a lot of history, and interestingly enough, it was actually the place where both the USSR and the United States carried out some of their space exploration. Much of the land is flat and uninhabited, making it the perfect place to launch new projects — including rockets.
Kazakhstan is an incredible country with beautiful nature and unique cultural offerings. Add it to your bucket list, and start planning your next adventure with Acanela!