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Kazkhstan and Kyrgyzstan

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Author elsslots
#1 | Posted: 11 Jan 2017 23:53 
Time has come to plan for the trips of 2017. On the day that I arrived back home from Seoul, I booked a flight to Kazakhstan for late May.
Please find below my initial itinerary. Would be nice to hear some practical tips about getting to the more remote WHS by public transport, and other interesting sites along the way.

May 26 - Fly to Astana from Amsterdam (KLM)
May 27 - Day in Astana, visit to National Museum and some modern architecture
May 28 - Day trip to Korgalzhyn (Saryarka WHS) - [public transport seems to be possible to get there, but would also be open to a 1 day tour
May 29 - Fly to Shymkent, and continue to Aksu
May 30 - Aksu State Reserve (Western Tien Shan WHS) - still looking for good place to stay & day tour
May 31 - Back to Shymkent
June 1 - Day trip to Mausoleum Khoja Ahmed Yasawi WHS
June 2 - Other sites around Shymkent
June 3 - Bus to Taraz, 2.5 hours (see Aisha Bibi monument, 10km)
June 4 - Marshrutka to Bishkek from Taraz (5-6 hours, crossing border to Kyrgyz)
June 5 - Bishkek, day trip to Burana Tower WHS Silk Road 80km
June 6 - To Osh, by road to take in the scenery (shared taxi or private driver)
June 7 - Sulaiman-Too WHS plus daily market in Osh
June 8 - Day trip to Celestial Horses of Aravan (20km)
June 9 - To Almaty (Kazakh), flight from Osh to Bishkek and then marshrutka or another flight to Almaty
June 10 - Tamgaly Petroglyphs WHS, trying to hook up with a 1 day group tour
June 11 - Full day in Almaty, flight during the night
June 12 - Home again

This itinerary includes 5 new WHS for me (have already ticked off the Silk Roads via China). Style of travel: by public transport and not too fast.

Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 03:28 
Day trip to Korgalzhyn (Saryarka WHS) - [public transport seems to be possible to get there,

Unfortunately the public transport only takes one to the village of Korgalzhyn - It has a museum but is still c40kms away from the reserve.
The Nomination file indicates that the "museum" at Korgalzhyn is used particularly for School Children and that many/most visitors don't go any further -
"It has a museum of nature located in Korgalzhyn outside the reserve. Only a small part of the museum visitors also visit the protected area. Since year 2000 in average about 1000 tourists visit the site, that number includes 4 to 5 small international visitor groups manly interested in the ornithofauna. The visitors are channelled on many one tour leading from the scientits stationKarazhar to small Tengiz and back to Korgalzhyno. Thus about 10% of the territory are accesable for tourists" (sic)

This from Bradt provides the best description of the logistics I have read so far - ve&source=bl&ots=V5nSn5vUMX&sig=c2Iglj5oL4P4YQvwNDYMCSul5VU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjTv bKLlrzRAhVsBcAKHWhECd0Q6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=karazhar%20reserve&f=false

I am still trying to discover more about the practicalities of entering - it appears that officially the Reserve only opens May 1 and that wet weather leads to its closure. Also (as per Bradt) that prior "booking" is probably best.

Author elsslots
#3 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 03:50 | Edited by: elsslots 
For Korgalzhyn, I was looking at a day tour like this: (others seems to be extremely expensive). To make public transport work, it would be better to stay overnight.

Author Solivagant
#4 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 03:58 | Edited by: Solivagant 
For Korgalzhyn, I was looking at a day tour like this:

Yes, as you know this is similar to the trip we are looking at but from another company. The purpose of my post was to caution against anyone thinking that public transport to "Korgalzhyn" will get you into the WHS!!! When you got there that would just be the start of your "problems"!
Regarding "day tours" there does seem to be some potential issue about how frequently they run (the admittedly potentially outdated Nomination File indicates that visitor numbers have been very low - maybe WHS inscription has pushed them up!) and how expensive they would be if one was the only person on one of them - no doubt we will each discover more in the following days, weeks and months and maybe someone can add some practical experience!!

Author Sjobe
#5 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 04:56 | Edited by: Sjobe 
Before my other thoughts about your interesting travel plans for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, I share my experiences of travelling (or not to travelling) to Tamgaly.

Tamgaly is my only true WHS miss and I hope you don't do the same mistake I (or more precisely my driver) did. If you go there by private transport or group tour, be sure that it goes to the right Tamgaly as there are two of them.

Tamgaly WHS is about 170 km from Almaty to north-west direction. The other one, often called Tamgaly-Tas or just Tamgaly (, includes some buddhist rock carvings, but it is not WHS. It is located about 100 km from Almaty to north near the Kapchagay dam. Guide books, web sites, tour companies and tourist brochures usually confuse these two sites with each other. For example, there could be a tour to Tamgaly-Tas (not WHS) with a photo of Tamgaly (WHS).

When I was in Almaty I asked my hotel receptionist what would be the easiest way to visit Tamgaly. He said that the best way is to hire a car with a driver. I already knew that there are two Tamgalys so I told many times both to the receptionist and to my driver that I want to visit the WHS Tamgaly north-west of Almaty, not the other one. Everyone said just "Yes, yes, of course, I know what you mean". I really thought that they understood me. Then, after some two or three hours of driving I found myself at the other Tamgaly (not WHS).

After the incident I asked about driving to Tamgaly WHS. They were very reluctant and said that it is too long a distance and they don't drive that far from Almaty. I just wondered why, in my opinion it is not that far. That time I didn't have time for another try so that was it for my visit to Tamgaly.

Back then I was really angry, but now thinking it afterwards it is just funny.

Author elsslots
#6 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 07:04 | Edited by: elsslots 
Regarding "day tours" there does seem to be some potential issue about how frequently they run (the admittedly potentially outdated Nomination File indicates that visitor numbers have been very low - maybe WHS inscription has pushed them up!)

Tourism to Astana certainly has picked up tremendously. When announcing the new KLM flight directly to Astana, there was a long article about the city in the KLM frequent flyer magazine that included one page about Korgalzhyn. It even included contact details for a home stay and a guide, maybe I'll contact them.

Author clyde
#7 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 07:43 
I'll be visiting Astana and Kazakhstan in June but I think I'll give Saryarka a miss, mainly because I've already seen the Siberian crane in Nepal and because I want more time to visit the cultural sites.

Saryarka's main highlights are the endangered saiga and the Siberian crane. May is the best time for birdwatching but I'd suggest at least a 2 day trip to try to appreciate any OUV and spot interesting birds further away from Astana. If you're just aiming at a quick tick, in May you'll definitely spot the world's northernmost breeding colony of pink flamingos ( -astana/).

Author elsslots
#8 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 07:46 
experiences of travelling (or not to travelling) to Tamgaly

I read a similar story on the Lonely Planet forum, seems to be a common mistake. troglyphs

Author Sjobe
#9 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 08:46 | Edited by: Sjobe 
Some other thoughts about your itinerary:

Instead of going back from Turkestan to Shymkent you might consider staying overnight in Turkestan and visiting next day Otrar (TWHS) and Sauran (both also on Kazakhstan Silk Roads TWHS). It would be easier to visit them from Turkestan.

Shymkent has also a small old town with the ancient hillfort. Unfortunately there is not much left to see. Next to Shymkent is Sayram with its mausoleums.

As you might know already, near Burana is also another Silk Roads WHS - Suyab (Site of Ak-Beshim). It is only a few kilometers away from Burana. When I visited Burana, I didn't know about this place, otherwise I had visited it. By looking from Google Earth it would be easy to visit it from the town of Tokmok if you know the right way. Third Kyrgyz Silk Roads WHS of Krasnaya Rechka (Site of Navekat) is along the road from Tokmok to Bishkek but I don't know the exact location.

Marshrutka from Bishkek to Osh is an exciting experience for sure but it takes a lot of time. My journey lasted 13 hours. So if you want to save some time and have also some sleep, a private driver would be more convenient alternative. I don't know about the prices but they should be comparatively low. Also, what I have understood, the marshrutkas to Osh operate mainly during the evenings and night-time. So if you want to enjoy the sceneries the private driver would also be better.

If you have spare time in Osh, Uzgen is within a reach for a short day trip. Uzgen's complex of minaret and mausoleum are included in 'Silk Roads Sites in Kyrgyzstan' TWHS.

About 20 kilometers from Almaty is the town of Talgar with the Silk Road WHS site 'Site of Talgar'. What I have understood or seen on the photos there is not much to see. But if you just want to tick it off:)

Author JonasK
#10 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 16:40 | Edited by: JonasK 
Hi Els!

Regarding the plan to visit Saryarka, perhaps our experience dating from autumn 2015 might be interesting for you:
We took the public bus from Astana bus station (next to train station) without having booked anything (bed or tour) in advance. Once arrived in Korgalzhyn we asked for a place to sleep and were told to go to "Oral" - a very, very basic (e. g. no water at the time) but really friendly and helpful guesthouse (and most probably the only one in town).
After having had lunch in a restaurant, also run by the guesthouse owners (and obviously having opened that day only for us) we went to the above mentioned museum (next to the road back to Astana - you can see it on the left when coming from Astana). Here we asked about possibilities for guided tours with drivers to the Saryarka area. Despite we came off-season they spontaneously organized a local driver who directly came to the museum for taking us to the spots we told we wanted to see. The museum staff was really friendly and also well aware about which parts of the area are under UNESCO protection. Conversation could be made by a mix of very basic german and even more basic english.
Since the driver didn't have any fuel left and so didn't any of the gas stations in Korgalzhyn we postponed the trip to the next early morning. And really - with just 1 hour delay - the driver came to "Oral", picked us up with a full tank and brought us to to the impressingly calm and beautiful Saryarka lakes!
After having returned we wanted to take the bus back to Astana but a private driver who wanted to go to Astana as well offered us the trip for nearly the same price and so we took that opportunity instead of waiting 2 hours for the bus.

P.S.: In Talgar there really isn't much to see of the Silk Road Site - and the traffic from Almaty is a mess!!

Author elsslots
#11 | Posted: 12 Jan 2017 22:38 
That sounds promising JonasK, thanks!

Author GaryArndt
#12 | Posted: 13 Jan 2017 09:06 
I visited the Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan last year. It is right outside of the town of Tokmok. Very easy to get to.

Make sure you also visit the graveyard which is part of the site. The headstones and sculptures are probably the most interesting part of the site.

Author barabanov
#13 | Posted: 15 Jan 2017 16:31 
Dear Els,

When I was searching for info on Tamgaly, I found two useful posts, one of them is quite detailed instruction how to get there and the second is the description of the site itself (unfortunately both are in Russian, I could help with translation of difficult parts not cleared by on-line translators).
Your schedule for Tamgaly seems to fit with weekend trip from Moscow to Almaty for me in order to cover only this site (+Talgar). In the next weeks I will explore in more details the logistics. The preliminary proposal is however to rent a car for a couple of days: 10 June Tamgaly and 11 June Talgar, both starting early morning (on the pics this looks not very great, but it was clearly identified in the inscription).
So, after checking logistics and depending on number of people who could join, we could decide and confirm on the ways of transport.

Author elsslots
#14 | Posted: 15 Jan 2017 23:30 
quite detailed instruction how to get there

indeed that's the road to the right Tamgaly, the google translation works fine

I'd be happy to share a car for at least June 10th to Tamgaly (if you drive!)
Not so sure about Talgar (have by the seen enough of Silk Road WHS, and also want to spend some time in Alma Aty)

Author Solivagant
#15 | Posted: 17 Jan 2017 06:50 | Edited by: Solivagant 
When we plan a visit to a country we usually give its T List a quick "once over" to assess whether it contains any "gems" we should try to see. This assessment also takes into account whether any of the sites are known to be in the process of being developed for nomination and how close to our preferred route they are. The following represents our assessment as part of our planning for a possible trip to Kazakhstan - It might be of use for reference by anyone planning to go and any additional knowledge or assessments would be gratefully received!!
The Kazakh T List currently consists of 13 sites - none of which have currently been reviewed on this Web site. There are a lot of Petroglyph and ancient burial sites!! If the petroglyph sites were to be progressed (in addition of course to the, already inscribed, Tamgaly) one wonders whether at least some of them would be brought together in a single nomination or as an extension. In 2011 an ICOMOS Thematic Study titled "Rock Art of Central Asia" was carried out and contains a fine map showing the location of a vast range if Rock Art sites in Kazakhstan – including both Tamgaly and Tamgaly-tas and all of the T List sites (on Acrobat page 163)! See
Aksu-Zhabagly state natural reserve (2002 T List) - already inscribed as part of W Tien Shan (1490-002)

Archaeological sites of Otrar oasis (1998 T List) - Is conveniently situated between Shymkent and Turkestan and seems easy to take in on the journey to or from them. Is probably (?) not going to be included in any Silk Road new or extended nomination.

Barrows with stone ranges of the Tasmola culture (1998 T List) - I have received this information from Kalpak Travel –
"I have some news for you about Tasmola objects. It was quite difficult to find any reliable information, even most experienced tour guides did not know about it, since no tourists seem to be interested in it. Everybody warned me that you can only see there barrow and ridges (so called"whiskers") and nothing more. So that is the bad news, that they are quite boring to look at. The good news is, we can quite easily find them and visit them from Astana or Karaganda. Basically there are two options that I can suggest to you:
Option near Astana: Ca. 140 km out of Astana (to be exact: N51°54 E72°35) there are Tasmola objects that can be visited
Option near Karaganda: Ca. 100 km south of Karaganda there is a place where you can see both Tasmola barrows and Begazy-Dandybai burial grounds, which are apparently also in tentative Unesco list The Tasmola site and the Begazy-Dandybai site are only 5 km apart from each other, so you can see both at once!"

Cultural landscape of Ulytau (1998 T List) - nearest city is Zhezqazghan SW of Karaganda. More Mausolea, as well as Steppe and lakes with flamingos etc as per Saryarka. Report of 2013 talks of establishment of an NP as part of "2030 Strategic Plan" by 2020 to improve protection. Sounds a long way off (if ever) for any nomination!

Megalithic mausolea of the Begazy-Dandybai culture (1998 T List) - See above re Tasmola culture

Northern Tyan-Shan (2002 T List) - Close to Almaty to its south and centred on Ile.Altau NP. Mountain scenery, lakes etc but flora and fauna sounds to be very similar to W Tien Shan. Could be of interest if had a spare day in Almaty?

Paleolithic sites and geomorphology of Karatau mountain range (1998 T List) - NE of Turkestan. The Karatau range is already inscribed under Natural criteria as 1490-001 so, if one visited it, instead of the more normally visited Aksu-Zhabagly, they could be picked up at the same time? But the nature and locations of the Paleolithic sites is unclear and "Geomorphology" is always a bit hard to visit (and should they all be mixed into 1 site anyway?)

Petroglyph Site of Sauyskandyk (XVIII BC – III AD). (2016 T List) Also in the Karatau area. The map in the Rock Art Thematic Study states it to be located "60km east of Shieli, 15km north of Aksumbe Village" ie further north than Arpa-Uzen. Recent addition to T List could imply upcoming nomination "activity" but could also reflect its apparent "recent" discovery (see Thematic study)?

Petroglyphs of Arpa-Uzen (1998 T List). Also in the Karatau area. NW of Turkistan nr Abay village 151kms by road from Turkistan city. See - . The Thematic Study states "Arpauzen consists of one complex of archeological sites concentrated in a relatively small area of 37.5km2, dated from the Bronze Age to the early 20th century. A total of 130 archeological sites including 20 settlements and over 80 burial grounds with 17 main concentrations were found".

Petroglyphs of Eshkiolmes (1998 T List). Situated in Almaty Province NE of Almaty near the capital Taldykorgan (300kms NE of Almaty city). Seems to require at least an 11km hike from roadhead. See The Thematic study states "The concentration of Eshkiolmes petroglyphs is one of the largest in Kazakhstan, with a total of 10,000 engravings dated from the Bronze Age to the beginning of the 20th century."

Silk Road (2012 T List) - It isn't at all clear how any further Silk Road inscriptions will be handled – as extension(s) to the existing WHS (8 in Kazakhstan) or as completely new "corridors"? Work is continuing – see this report of a meeting as recently as Nov 2016 - discussing the "Fergana-Syrdarya Corridor". The T List entry on the UNESCO Web site states - "Four main sections (roads) on the territory of Kazakhstan are being offered for consideration: Semirechye, Syrdarya, Saryarka and Mangyshlak (Uralo-Prikaspiyskiy)." Regarding the Syrdrya section the decision seems to have been made in Nov 16 to include "Syganak, Zhankala (Жент), Zhankent, Kesken Kuyuk, Chirik-Rabat, Babish Mola, Balandy, and the memorials of Dzhetyassarsky sanctuary". All of these are generally in SW Kazakstan . Surprisingly Otryar is NOT included despite having a significant "Silk Road" pedigree! . I have found these –
1.Syganak is north of Turkestan on the road to Kyzylorda. See -
2.Zhankala is in the desert East of Kyzylorda - ost/Ruins/Kazakhstan/Razvaliny_Zhankala/
3.Zhankent is in a similar area but I can't find coordinates! See -
4.Kesken-Kuyuk is further NW and West of Baikonur Cosmodrome at 45°31'0"N 61°27'30"E. See -
5.Chirik-Rabat is also in the desert SW of Kyzylorda at 44 06 N, 62 54 E See - -26&catid=11:2013-08-07-10-50-17&Itemid=8&lang=en
6.Babish-Mola is in the same area but I can't find coordinates.
7.Balandy is also near the Aral Sea -
8. Dzhetyassarsky sanctuary - "Sanctuary" seems to be a sort of Caravanserai and the alternative spelling is "Zhetysu" (= 7 Rivers region or "Semirechye" in russian). The area seems to be south of Balkhash but, if so this would be a long way from all the others above!! Very strange!
Generally my view is that it is NOT worth "chasing" any of the above T List sites which seem hard to get to, somewhat esoteric and not to add much to others already inscribed under "Silk Road"!

State National Natural Park "Altyn-Emel" (2002 T List). NE of Almaty. "Singing Dunes" seem to be its main attraction! Easy as a "side trip". Some 350kms away from Almaty so would seem to require at least a 2 day trip. See - National_Park-Almaty_Province.html

Turkic sanctuary of Merke. (1998 T List). The sanctuaries are 37kms S of the town of Merke (near the Kyrkgyz border on the road from Taraz to Bishkek). It seems relatively easy, if time consuming, to reach some of them. See

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