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Kazakhstan: Back in the USSR

6 days

The Kazakhstani part of Soviet heritage is presented in the central part of the country in the best way. It was in this region that the notorious correctional camps of the Stalin epoch – “Karlag” and “Alzhir” were situated in. These lands became witnesses of the nuclear explosions, which were produced during the Cold War and “Nuclear arms race” period. Moreover, history of the Civil War, which followed the October revolution, is also presented here abundantly. Developing of virgin lands, industrialization, urbanization. Silent witnesses of all those processes, being a part of life in the USSR, can still be seen here, in the very heart of Kazakhstan.

Thread of the route

Astana city – Akmol village – Astana city – Aksu town — Kurchatov town – “Opytnoye pole” test site – Kurchatov town – Shagan ghost-town – Kurchatov town — Yedrey mountain oasis – Yegindybulak village – Karkaralisk town – Karaganda city – Dolinka village – Karaganda city

The total length of the route is about 1800 km.

Program of the tour

Day 1
Meeting with a guide and driver. A half-day survey excursion around the city: sights of the Soviet time (including Memorial of victims of political repressions, excursion to the Presidential culture center, Congress-Hall, “Yesil” hotel, Pioneers’ House, national security commitee, “Oktyabr” cinema, “Molodezhniy” palace, steam locomotive monument etc.), the new administrative center on the left bank of the river Ishim. Lunch. Trip to the Akmol (Malinovka) village and back (4 hours) including an excursion to the museum of the former “Alzhir” correctional camp. Dinner.

Day 2
Breakfast. Journey from Astana to Aksu (about 6 hours long). Lunch and visiting the public garden, where monuments of the Soviet period are kept together. Journey from Aksu to Kurchatov (about 2.5 hours long). Accommodation in Kurchatov. Walking tour around the town, being the former center of the Semipalatinsk test site (general directorate of the National Nuclear Center, National Security committee building, house of Lavrentiy Beria, deserted part of the town). Dinner.

Day 3
Breakfast. Excursion to the museum of the test site. Trip to the “Opytnoe Pole” test site (4 hours), where the first nuclear explosion made in 1949 with short-term stay on the spot. Way back to Kurchatov. Lunch. Excursion to the ghost-town Shagan, where the aerodrome of long-range aviation was situated (about 3 hours). Dinner in Kurchatov.

Day 4
Breakfast. Trip to Karkaralinsk partly along the territory of the former Semipalatinsk test site through the mountain oases Yedrey and Ku (7 hours). Short stops in the most picturesque places, lunch in the field. Arrival to Karkaralinsk. Accommodation and dinner.

Day 5
Breakfast. Excursion around Karkaralinsk (sights of the Civil War period: general Kornilov house, 78 Communards memorial, people’s commissariat building etc.), excursion to the history museum, short excursion to the mountains (by request). Lunch. Journey from Karkaralinsk to Karaganda (4 hours). Accommodation in the hotel. Survey excursion around the city (Lenin monument, the Miners’ culture palace, Stanislavskiy theatre, city administration, “Chaika” hotel, Nurken Abdirov monument, Circus, industrial part of the city, old town). Dinner.

Day 6
Breakfast. A half-day trip to Dolinka village – the former center of the “Karlag” correctional labour camp (including excursion to the Museum of “Karlag”, Building of Former “Karlag” administration, Maternity hospital and “Mamochkino” child cemetery) and to the Spassk memorial, located in the place, where the former camp of prisoners of war was situated. Way back to Karaganda. Lunch. Excursion to the Karaganda Ecological Museum (1 hour). Free time, purchasing souvenirs. Dinner. Departure.

NOTICE 1: a part of the tour passes through the territory of the former Semipalatinsk test site. A short-term stay in the places, being the key points of the tour offered, does not pose any hazard to health, on condition that elementary safety regulations are kept. Members of the attendant staff possess necessary knowledge and hardware for security protection.

NOTICE 2. This tour is recommended to start on any day, except Monday. This rule observance makes possible visiting all the museums, mentioned in the program.

Cost per person

Size of group






Price, KZT






The above-mentioned prices include: all the journeys by all-wheel drive minibus according to the program of the tour, services of a driver and an English-speaking guide-interpreter, accommodation in hotels (double or triple rooms), three meals a day, visiting museums mentioned in the program, security facilities on the territory of the test site (respirators, shoe covers).

The above-mentioned prices do not include: visa expenses and consular fees, insurance, the price of getting to the starting point of the route (Astana city) and way back from Karaganda.

If required the tour can be adapted according to the schedule of arrival and departure of the participants. In this case the cost of the tour may slightly change. 

The program of the tour might be changed due to the force majeure circumstances, including (but not limited to):
official prohibitions on visiting specially protected areas (national parks, reserves, sanctuaries, etc.) due to epizootics or epidemics, fire-setting and other reasons;
official prohibitions on visiting sites, located in the territory of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and Kurchatov town, Saryshagan test site, Baikonur city and Cosmodrome site, and other areas with limited access;
cancellation/postponement of plane, train and other transfers;
extreme weather conditions (steppe fire, snowstorms, lasting rainstorms, etc.) and its consequences (washed out roads, snow drifts, damaged bridges, etc.);
traffic restrictions (closures);
other natural and administrative circumstances beyond the control of the company “Nomadic Travel Kazakhstan”.

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