We weren’t too sure what to expect when backpacking in Kazakhstan. We knew it was the ninth largest country in the world, that Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman rode through here on motorbikes in The Long Way Round (awesome series by the way) and that the movie Borat was supposed to be portraying this Central Asian nation.

mosque in astana
I don’t remember seeing anything like this in Borat…

We only spent 10 days in this huge country because we wanted to make sure we were in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for the trekking season and to make the epic Parmir Highway journey without freezing to death. Even though we only spent a week and a half here, we had an unforgettable time.

Here are some highlights from our journey through Kazakhstan:

We took a very long overnight bus journey from Russia to get to Kazakhstan – and almost overstayed our Russian visa!

bus from omsk to astana
It was a very long overnight bus ride!

We wandered around the streets of Astana gazing in awe at the awesome feats of architectural engineering. From egg-shaped buildings to heat absorbing tent-like structures, from mosques to museums, from grand palaces to massive malls, Astana has some of the most interesting structures we’ve seen.

bayterek in astana
Standing at 97m high, the Bayterek Monument is impressive

We boarded yet another train and made the 21 hour journey from the capital city to the former capital city, Almaty.

train astana to almaty
Nick on the train…reading up on our next destination: Almaty!

We ate meat stews, meat skewers (shashlyk), fried rice with meat, steamed meat dumplings, and more meat! The Kazakhs love their mutton, lamb, chicken and beef. Different breads, soups and salads accompanied our amazing meat dishes.

mutton shashlyk
Some delicious mutton shashlyk

We wandered through local markets, sampling dried fruits and nuts and honey along the way from excited vendors.

dried fruits
Some delicious dried fruits at the market

We enjoyed some western comforts of pizza and beer as the sun was setting.

pizza in kazakhstan

We bought loads and loads of fresh raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and honeydew melons from street-side fruit vendors.

fresh berries
The fresh berries in Almaty were amazing. We bought some every day!

We scrubbed ourselves down in one of Central Asia’s finest bath houses.

We met some amazing friends in Kazakhstan who treated us to lunch and spent the day with us at the glowing Big Almaty Lake.

big almaty lake
Enjoying the scenery at Big Almaty Lake

We took a gondola up to the nearby ski resort and hiked to the perfect picnic spot.

hiking kazakhstan
Off to find the perfect picnic spot

We enjoyed days spent in beautiful parks, while gazing up at brightly coloured Russian Orthodox Cathedrals.

zenkov cathedral
Inside the stunning Zenkov Cathedral

But most importantly, we relaxed! We had some amazing down time in Kazakhstan and loved wandering around the leafy streets of Almaty and not having to be somewhere. We had been dealing with some “down days” before coming to Kazakhstan, but after spending 10 days in this beautiful country, we were cured! No more low days for us, we were back in travel mode and loving life.

ice cream car
Feeling quite happy here! Enjoying an ice cream cone from a pretty cool vendor

Rakhmet Kazakhstan!

Check out this quick video of our time spent backpacking through Kazakhstan:

Have you ever travelled to a country and weren’t really sure what to expect? Tell us about it below!




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Backpacking Kazakhstan: A 10 Day Roundup

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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6 thoughts on “Backpacking Kazakhstan: A 10 Day Roundup

  1. So glad you have your travel mojo back. Taking a break is so needed after a long period of go, go, go. I really enjoyed the video content and your creative way of showing your destination. Nicely done!

  2. haha, thanks Joanne! It’s definitely back. Thanks for the kind words, we’re glad you enjoyed the video 🙂


  3. Hey guys,

    Your blog inspired me and my wife to head to central Asia back in September for our honeymoon! We had an amazing time and it even led to us starting our own blog and making videos

    Please check us out at with our video about Kazakhstan at

    Amazing to see how successful you have been over the past 2 years


    Paul and Emily

  4. I’m so glad that you guys went to Central Asia – and for your honeymoon too, how unique and adventurous! Glad you had a good time.

  5. I hope you can go back and explore the country further. I’ve been 8 times now and still so much more to discover! I’m planning on moving to Almaty in a few months so I can dedicate more time to exploring Central Asia!

  6. I hope we can return as well. There’s so much to see and do that we missed out on. Happy Travels

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