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Wander Rooijackers (Netherlands)

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Kyzylarai — the highest, the oldest

The Kyzylarai tour is really great if you want to experience the true magnificent desolateness of Kazakhstan. After arriving in Karaganda I arranged the trip at the office of Nomadic Kazakhstan and I was really surprised by the friendliness and enthusiasm of the young staff.

At day 1 of the tour, the 4×4 minibus picked me up by the hotel. That’s when I met the sweet and charming Oxana, the guide for the tour. She is an international orientated girl, speaks English fluently and has much traveling experience. One of the nicest guides I met during traveling. The driver Kolya is a silent guy but a very skilled driver, and that’s important because not all roads would turn out to be so good and smooth. There were also two very nice french people in the group: Guillaume and Aline. The first day the destination was Shabanbai-bi, a very small village in the so-called «middle of nowhere». The drive took around 5 hours I think and took us through the endlessness of the vast steppe. After arrival, we met the family of the homestay. Never met more hospitable people, and the lunch was nothing less than enormous and delicious. Especially when you think everything is made from scratch, no supermarkets here… after the introduction to the family, lunch and a little rest we went for a walk through the village. There is nothing spectacular to see, and that makes it so interesting to me. Just a simple life, tough but honest. After a great dinner, we spent the evening drinking and talking.

For day 2 there was a hike planned. I figured we would take a nice trail into the mountains, stroll around and admire the surroundings etc. But it was very different I found out soon. The company had this idea to make the usual hike a bit more ‘adventurous’. Well, they sure succeeded. With a GPS we just walked into the mountains, climbed rocks, went up and down hills, I fell down a couple of times. Just right trough the wilderness, no strolling whatsoever. An intense experience, intense heat. The destination was a cave on the shape of them, ah well that doesn’t matter does it. We were in for a nice experience when Kolya wasn’t at the place he should have been. So totally exhausted we walked back, no water, no cars to take us to the village. Guillaume ran to the village in the end and got the car. That evening we enjoyed a nice hot banya, never felt better after.

The 3rd and last day we got up, packed our stuff and head on back to Karaganda after breakfast. Still exhausted from the hike everybody just slept or looked outside the van. Concluding, a great trip with a really nice guide and driver! If you happen to be around Karaganda, do yourself a favor and drop by Nomadic!

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