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Kazakhstan honeymoon

At the crossroad of worlds in the center of Eurasia

Welcome to Kazakhstan, a country located right in the heart of Eurasia, where ancient meets modern and oriental traditions coexist with Western culture. We are sure that the centuries-old Kazakh culture and the unique nature of the region will enchant you. A trip to Kazakhstan will be a truly wonderful experience, a time that you will treasure forever.

Recently, Kazakhstan has become increasingly popular among travelers from all around the world. Local travel companies have been quick to respond to this phenomenon by increasing the range of services they offer, attracting even more travelers. Many of these travelers come from Germany, the UK, Japan, South Korea and China. These travelers have already experienced the touring routes of Kazakhstan, and we believe that it's high time to follow their example.

Today, Kazakhstan offers virtually all types of travel services - educational and entertainment tours, ethnic and eco-tourism, just to name a few. Numerous touring routes cover the country's entire territory. For example, you can't afford to miss the Golden Ring of Southern Kazakhstan. Some of the World's earliest cities flourished in this fertile oasis, located on the southern steppe, at the frontier between nomads and ancient settlements. A system of caravan routes connecting China with the Near East and Europe used to cross through this land. The Great Silk Road, or Zhibek Zholy in the Kazakh language, emerged as a major trade route as early as the 3rd century BC. A significant part of this road now belongs to the territory of Kazakhstan. Cities such as Turkestan (Yasi), Taraz (Talas) and Otrar are located along this ancient route, and in the past they used to be major settlements along the path of the caravans.

By Jonas Satkauskas (http://www.satkauskas.com) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Southern Kazakhstan also hosts the world famous space port, Baykonur. It is quite possible that in the near future, not only the local people, but also travelers from abroad will be able to get one step closer to space and feel its fascinating aura, if not by joining a rocket launch, then by witnessing it from a nearby location. There is a proposal to create at Baikonur an entertainment complex with modern hotels and service facilities, similar to that existing at Cape Canaveral. Facilities would include a mini-mission control center which would simulate spacecraft launch, a planetarium, a museum of space development, a shopping network, restaurants, as well as 'cosmic cafes' for young people.

In addition, the region provides unique climatic conditions for recreation, rehabilitation, hunting, mountain climbing, skiing and ice-skating. Western Kazakhstan is situated in a quite unique fashion on the border line between the European and Asian continents, in the basins of the Caspian Sea and Volga and Ural rivers. Here one can find the second lowest land area on our planet, the Karaghiye Depression (some 132 meters below sea level), as well as impressive chalk cliffs.

There are rich hunting grounds and a number of good fishing spots, as well as areas suitable for water sports. The ancient ruins of Mangyshlak and Ustyurt, as well as memorials related to Kazakh history, are of significant scientific importance. One of the major resting spots in this region used to be Aktau. From here, one may observe not only the Karaghiye Depression, but also rocky cliffs and picturesque canyons, rich in mineral springs. You will be able to visit necropolises and underground mosques built by the indigenous stonemasons of old. The shores of the Caspian Sea offer numerous beaches. The sea dashing itself upon the cliffs, sandy beaches, and stony seabed. Extreme travelers will appreciate the rock climbing and sailing opportunities.

Whether you like touring by car or on a bicycle, or prefer water-based activities, you will love a vacation spent in Northern Kazakhstan, with its landscapes and climate. One of the most popular resorts for both the locals and guests of the country is the so-called "Kazakh Switzerland", a place called "Borovoye". A true gem of Kazakhstan, located between the cities of Astana and Kokshetau, this resort town has a population of some 5,000 people. It offers a rich variety of restaurants, bars, shops and discos.

Central Kazakhstan is the location of one of the world's largest lakes, Balkhash, the unique Karkarala mountain forest oasis, as well as numerous places of interest representing archaeological and ethnographic sites.

Eastern Kazakhstan bears the Altai Mountain range and its foothill forest regions, as well as the Irtysh River, and lakes Zaysan, Markakol, Alakol and Sauskan.

Kazakhstan is becoming increasingly recognized and respected on the international political scene, and it is no surprise that Almaty and Astana have become host to a growing number of various regional and international meetings and symposia. More and more business travelers have become interested in visiting the country, and you may find yourself becoming one of them.

Speaking of extreme and ecological tourism, there's more than enough space for these activities. Admirers of exoticism and adventure, bored by comfort and hotel accommodations, may stay in Kazakh traditional tent homes, yurts, and study the local customs, lifestyle and traditions. The list of services in this sector is continuously being enriched with new offers. Recently, traditional mountain trekking tours and wildlife reserve visits were diversified with another type of extreme touring - hunting with birds of prey. An ancient hunting tradition which originated in Central Asia is becoming popular again.

The charm of Kazakhstan - this is what you are going to feel from the moment you arrive. Have a nice holiday and an exciting trip.

Historical and architectural monuments of Kazakhstan

On the plains of Central Asia, there are many cities with hundreds of architectural monuments from various eras. Among the most famous are Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz, Kokand and Turkistan. These cities were centers of science and art.

Great architects created palaces, mosques and mausoleums, world famous monuments of ancient architecture, to memorialize figures such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane. Many of these masterpieces have not survived, but by visiting those which have been preserved it is possible to step back in time.

mausoleum

Kazakh culture and national traditions

The Kazakh people are rich in traditions. From birth through old age and death, every step of their lives has historically been marked with celebration. Even their funeral ceremonies have their own special symbolism.

Unfortunately, many rich and interesting traditions and customs of the Kazakh people have been forgotten throughout the past century. Real sovereignty is just now being reestablished in Kazakhstan due to the process of democratization. These abandoned traditions are just now being rediscovered by the Kazakh people. These traditions include being respectful to old people; being patriotic to the motherland; being honest; and learning to love mankind.

Traditionally every guest is offered Kazakh cuisine at the dastarkhan (the low table) in a yurt.

The yurt is one of the most sensible types of movable house. It is a comfortable and practical home, ideally suited to local conditions and ways of life - one of the greatest inventions of the Eurasian nomads.

It is easily taken apart (it is said that a Kazakh woman can do it in half an hour) and carried by horses and camels. The yurt consists of three main elements: an extensible trellis base (the kerege), a dome made of poles (the uyk) and a round top (the shanyrak).

In ancient times Turks were reputed as the most skillful felt-makers. These days the Kazakhs use felt to cover the yurt and for its internal decoration, as well as to make carpets, dresses and shoes. The Kazakhs live surrounded by ornaments. They richly decorate their yurts with wall carpets and multi-colored embroideries.

Handicrafts - harnesses, felt mats (tekemets), and articles made of wood, bone and metal - are lavishly decorated. Headdresses, dresses, bags and saddle-cloths are beautifully embroidered. They use traditional designs and carvings to make and decorate the wooden cups, large bowls and ladles used to serve kumis (fermented mare's milk).

The horns of mountain rams and goats are used to decorate beds and caskets. Leather is used to make quivers, belts, harnesses and flasks (torsyks) for water and kumis. Kazakh artisans are also very skillful jewelers.

Steppe zergers (jewelers) favor white silver. Traditional Kazakh bell-shaped earrings, original bracelets (blezics), or the traditional bracelet linked to three rings with fine chains will certainly impress you.

Kazakh national dress varies by regions. Men wear chapans, a kind of dressing gown with a belt, made of velvet and richly embroidered. They cover their heads with a soft skullcap (tobetai), a tall felt cap (kalpak) or a fox-fur hat with earflaps (malakai).

kazakhstanThe women's national costume consists of a white cotton or colored silk dress, a velvet waistcoat with embroidery and a cap or a silk scarf. Elderly women wear a hood made of white cloth with a hole for the face (the kimeshek). Brides wear a tall pointed, richly decorated hat, topped with feathers (saukele).

Kazakh music and musical instruments: The Kazakhs love the art of wordplay and their akyns (poets), who improvise at public competitions (aitys) accompanied by Kazakh stringed musical instruments: the dombra or the kobyz.

Nauryz (Islamic New Year) is one of the biggest holidays in Central Asia. In Kazakhstan it is celebrated on the day of the spring equinox, March 22. On that day, the streets of villages and towns are transformed. Guests are hosted in beautiful yurts with the traditional Nauryz kozhe dish made of seven traditional ingredients. People respecting this nearly month-long holiday forgive each others' debts and offences.

National games: these are usually performed on horseback and are an opportunity to witness the Kazakhs' outstanding riding skills. Kazaksha kures (Kazakh wrestling), baiga (horse racing over 25, 50 or 100 km), kokpar (a sort of polo game played with a dead goat), kyz-kuu (catch the girl) and alty bakan (six-pole swing).

Cuisine of Kazakhstan

A guest is always given a special welcome and offered the place of honor.

He or she is first treated to kumys (fermented mare's milk), shubat (fermented camel's milk) or airan (fermented cow's milk), then to tea with milk or cream, baursaks (fried dough balls), raisins, irimshik (dried cheese balls), and kurt (dried cheese and whey).

Appetizers of horse or mutton meat follow (kazy, shuzhuk, zhal, zhaya, sur-yet, karta, kabyrga) always served with flat bread.

Kazakhs eat at a low table called a "dastarkhan" and the most popular dish has always been the national meat dish, "beshparmak" ("five fingers" because of the manner in which it is eaten).

It is made of large chunks of boiled meat, which the host cuts and serves to each guest according to their importance: the pelvic bones and shin to the elderly guests of honor, the brisket to the son or daughter-in-law, the cervical vertebra to girls and so on.

The highest ranking guest is served a sheep's head cooked in a special way and distributes it to other guests according to local tradition (old men, children, close and distant relatives).

The meat is eaten with a boiled pasta sheet and a meat broth called shorpa, usually served in traditional Kazakh bowls called "pialas". At the end of the meal kumys is served, then tea.

Today, around the dastarkhan gather Kazakhs, as well as many other nationalities: Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Germans, Uigurs, Dungalts and Koreans.

These people who have lived peacefully with the Kazakhs have influenced their cuisine, everyday life and culture and adopted some Kazakh traditions.

Today's Kazakh cuisine includes traditional Kazakh dishes as well as Uzbek, Uigur, Russian, Tatar, and Korean dishes, which Kazakhs enjoy.

Today, the range of ingredients available locally has considerably widened and influenced the national cuisine accordingly.

Traditionally Kazakh cuisine was mostly based on meat and milk products. But more recently vegetables, fruits, fish, seafood, baked dishes and sweets have been added to the list of delights Kazakhs offer to their guests.

Religions in Kazakhstan

By tradition, Kazakhs are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school. The Kazakhs adopted Islam gradually, with complete conversion only in the early 19th century.

The Slavic peoples of Kazakhstan are traditionally Orthodox Christians, and the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest Christian denomination in the republic.

There are few countries in the world today with such a variety of ethnic and religious groups as Kazakhstan.

According to a 2009 national census, approximately 70% of Kazakhstan's population is Muslim. The majority are Sunni of the Hanafi school, including ethnic Kazakhs, who constitute about 60% the population, as well as by ethnic Uzbeks, Uighurs, and Tatars. Less than 1% are part of the Sunni Shafi`i school (primarily Chechens).

The southern region of the country has the highest concentration of self-identified practicing Muslims. There are a total of 2,300 mosques, all of them are affiliated with the "Spiritual Association of Muslims of Kazakhstan", headed by a supreme mufti. The Eid al-Adha is recognized as a national holiday.

Less than 25% of the population of Kazakhstan is Russian Orthodox, including ethnic Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians.

Other Christian groups include Roman Catholics and Protestants. There are a total of 265 registered Orthodox churches, 93 Catholic churches, and 543 Protestant churches and prayer houses. The Russian Orthodox Christmas is recognized as a national holiday in Kazakhstan.

Other religious groups include Judaism, the Baha'i Faith, Hare Krishnas, Buddhists, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As elsewhere in the newly independent Central Asian states, the subject of Islam's role in everyday life, and especially in politics, is a delicate one in Kazakhstan.

By Jonas Satkauskas (Own work – http://www.satkauskas.blogspot.com) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Water resources in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has 8,500 small and large rivers with the Ural, Emba, Syr Darya, Irtysh, Ischim and Tobol as the largest. 48,000 lakes complete this water paradise. Very impressive are the numerous fresh and salt water steppe lakes and the only inland sea in the world (2,340 km of Caspian Sea Coast). They make Kazakhstan unique as a water destination. Major lakes are the Aral, Balkhash, Saisan, Alakol, Tengiz and Seletengiz.

Source: www.kazakhstan.orexca.com

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