Shamans & Spacemen
The Ultimate Tour to Kazakhstan
Step back into the past of the ancient Silk Road and blast off into the future of space travel on this in-depth, ultimate adventure to magnificent Kazakhstan, a land of colourful characters, glittering tiled mausoleums and palaces, vast landscapes, scientific endeavours and diverse cities.
Celebrate a country whose legacy spans the days of ancient khans, nomadic pilgrimages and the cold war, and where a fierce spirit of independence and unique national identity is emerging 30 years after declaring independence. Explore remote national parks with limestone formations that rival Monument Valley and unique endemic bird life and sail the Caspian Sea. Spend a day with fishermen in remote villages in the Aral Sea, and spend a night on a honey farm with beekeepers in a fairy-tale forest, where you will be lulled to sleep with honey-steeped tea and bedtime stories.
Explore iconic Dark Tourism sites including an abandoned bomber plane hangar, visit the National Nuclear Research Facility and discover the country’s contribution to the Russian space program with a day at the spaceport of Baikonur.
This is Kazakhstan – a country of contrasts and anachronisms, of storied history, modern innovations and traditional lifestyles that simply defies being categorised. Travel where few have stepped before you and conquer one of Earth’s lost frontiers.
- Travel the shores of the Caspian and Aral Seas, hanging out with local fishermen and gaining an understanding of the impact of the Aral Sea disaster on an intimate micro level
- Take in magnificent landscapes ranging from vast steppes, dense forests, wind swept gorges and limestone formations, and go wildlife spotting for rare birds in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Korgalzhyn Natural Reserve
- Explore Kazakhstani culture from ancient to modern, from pilgrimage sites on the historic Silk Road, necropolises subterranean mausoleums to Soviet-era cities, cold war bunkers and dazzling contemporary architecture in the capital, Nur-Sultan
- Go in-depth in an exploration of the Russian Space Program at the cosmonaut centre at Baikonur
- Stay in a variety of local boutique hotels, guesthouses and homestays, including 2 nights in Sairam Ugam National Park and a home stay on a beekeepers farm that has been operating in the remote countryside for centuries
Trip style: Unique
Max group size: 15
Duration: 32 Days
Trip style: Unique
Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15
Trip code: SSAA
Cost: $10 950.00 AUD twin share
Single supplement: $1150.00 AUD
- 31-nights accommodation in local hotels, guesthouses, eco-lodge, inns, farm stay, overnight trains and wild camping (2-nights)
- All transport as specified in itinerary including train tickets
- Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
- Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides
- All entrance fees as per itinerary
Optional experiences (not included):
- Sairam Ugam National Park – Horse Riding
* Please note some optional experiences must be booked prior to travel. You will be given the option to add these experiences at check out
Trip price does not include
- International airfares or domestic airfares
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- Visa for Kazakhstan
- Any expenses associated with COVID-19
- Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
- Additional accommodation before or after the tour
- Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
- Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas
Journey Rating – Adventure
This trip travels through Kazakhstan, a wonderfully vast and varied country but one where things might not always go to plan and should you definitely pack your sense of adventure and more importantly your sense of humour. There are a few very long travel days where we will be getting up early and arriving into our accommodation quite late, sometimes the accommodation will be a local guest house, farm stay or wild camping with no facilities (2-nights). We will mostly travel by train on this trip, however there are a few coach trips included where train travel is not practical. At some religious sites women may be required to cover themselves fully including a headscarf. Men are expected to dress conservatively also. The quality of amenities such as hospitals and pharmacies will be limited to large cities. Be prepared for eastern-style squat toilets in public places (not hotels). The weather is likely to alternate between humid heat and cool.
A note about fitness
This trip is a bit of an adventure and as such requires a good level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 2.5km during scheduled sightseeing, climb up to 200 stairs unassisted, use an eastern-style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues) and confidently walk over uneven surfaces. You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach/bus, as well as on and off the train. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.)
Overnight train travel in Kazakhstan is in a 4-berth bunk style configuration, in addition to being able to haul your luggage on and off the train, you must also be able to climb into a top bunk via the use of a narrow ladder as bottom bunks can not be guaranteed.
In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information, please see our booking conditions.
In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.
Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travelers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveler of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!
Please note the single supplement on this trip does not apply to the overnight trains, some of the smaller guest houses or while camping.
Trip leader description
Accompanying you along your journey will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:
- If you lose your passport or other travel documents
- If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
- If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
- Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
- Questions regarding the itinerary
Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.
This itinerary is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.
While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.
Minimum Age: 16 years
We do not recommend bringing you children on this trip due to the remoteness of some of the destinations visited and shared nature of some of the accommodation.
There is no upper age limit for this trip but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are good health and able to participate safely on this trip.
Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.