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Kazakhstan Horse Trek
This is the trip, and the country, for people who love to travel where no one else goes. Kazakhstan is what 'off the beaten track' really means. Enquire about joining us in 2019!
(This is an exploratory trip)
- 28 Jun - 14 Jul 2019 In 2019 we are waiting for the snow to melt so the passes are passable and the spring flowers are blooming (sometimes there is a little too much snow earlier in the season). UPDATE December 2018: Accepting bookings now.
- 20 Aug - 5 Sep 2019 Summer is peaking, and the countryside is a hive of activity as local people bring in the hay. Very nice of them to cut the grass to create perfect galloping meadows. UPDATE December 2018: Accepting bookings now.
In 2019 we will be returning to the far east of Kazakhstan, a beautiful and rarely visited region of forests, lakes and high mountains. Close to the Russian and Chinese borders, this remote wilderness area is best explored by riding and using pack horses. Perfect for a Zavkhan Trekking expedition.
We will once again be working closely with Amangul, our trip manager in the Altai region of Mongolia, who is ethnically Kazakh. Having established the right connections with local officials we are now in the perfect position to pioneer ecotourism in the area, with your help.
This 30sec video will show you if it is the trip for you:
Several previous treks showed us the amazing potential for horse trekking in this region, but we have really only scratched the surface. In 2019 we will be loading up the pack-horses and venturing further in to the vast wilderness of Katon-Karagay National Park. These treks are most definitely still exploratory, so you do need to be prepared for adventure!
Part of the attraction of course is that so few people go there. So far we have seen no tourists at all. Many people only know about Kazakhstan because of Borat (never mention the B-word to a local). The beautiful natural landscape and interesting culture is ideal for developing ecotourism. With the support of local officials it's a great opportunity to get involved with establishing trekking routes.
For an overview of Kazakhstan: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/kazakhstan
Who is this trip aimed at?
Intrepid travellers of all sorts, not just serious horse folk. If you've had a good time in Mongolia with us, then this is the trip for you. If you haven't ridden with us yet, but like the look of our trip style, then you are welcome to join us. The more fit and active you are, the more you will enjoy the trek. You need to be comfortable with not having a rigid itinerary. If you need to know what time lunch will be and where we will be stopping at the end of the day, this is not the trip for you (that is true for all our trips).
We go out of our way for the promise of interesting wildlife, and archaeological sites in the area. Experiencing the local culture is of course half the reason for travelling, so we will be meeting and mingling with the local people along the way.
What are the horses and riding like?
This is an undiscovered paradise for horse trekking. We work with local park rangers and their horses which is ideal. The rangers spend their time patrolling the mountain trails, so know the park like the back of their hand. The horses are fit and sure-footed, and very well-trained (forget everything you might have learnt in Mongolia regarding the perils of a flapping raincoat or approaching from the wrong side!).
Experienced riders will be in trekking heaven, with plenty of opportunities for fast riding along forest trails and over mountain grasslands. Those with less experience can follow trails at a pace that is appropriate to your abilities. We have a range of horses available, but this ride is most suited to those with some riding experience. And definitely outdoors experience.
If you are wondering about the pace of the trek, have a look here (warning: contains scenes of reckless galloping):
Meeting Point and Getting There
The trip starts in Ust Kamenogorsk, in East Kazakhstan (Ust for short, or local people know it as Oskemen). From here we drive further east to Katon-Karagay NP, close to the border with China and Russia, and meet the horses.
Ask us about the best domestic flights to get to and from Ust Kamenogorsk.
If you are feeling particularly intrepid, there are also overnight trains from Almaty or Astana.
Visas and Permits
Currently most of us do not need a visa to enter Kazakhstan for up to one month. For a list of the 48 nationalities that are visa-free see here: kazakhstan.org.sg
We provide all necessary paperwork and detailed information if you do need a visa. We arrange all necessary registration papers, and permits for entering the National Park and border region.
|Day 1||Meet at our hotel in Ust Kamenogorsk and go out for our first group dinner together. If you have time during the day, we can help with site-seeing in Ust|
|Day 2||Drive from Ust-Kamenogorsk to Katon-Karagay, (330km, 6-7hrs). Watch the rural life of Kazakhstan pass by as we head east toward the Altai Mountains. Stay the night at our first camp site|
|Day 3||First day of riding. Our luggage will be transported to a camp where we have a yurt set up. Preparation for multi-day trekking with pack-horses|
|Days 4 to 15||The next 12 days of trekking are non-itinerised. We have 6400 square kms of national park to explore, much of it accessible only by pack-horse. Expect 12 days of riding, including some shorter, or rest, days|
|Day 16||Return to Ust, arriving in the evening. Final dinner together|
|Day 17||Depart Ust Kamenogorsk. If you would like to see more of Ust before departing, we can help|
Zavkhan Trekking specialises in a non-itinerised style of travel. The route we take depends on factors such as the weather, advice from local people along the way, and most importantly what you and your fellow travellers are keen to experience.
We cover (almost) everything from the time we meet you at the airport in Ust, until taking you back to the airport at the end.
- Transport while in Kazakhstan
- Accommodation in Ust-Kamenogorsk for two nights (private room, where possible)
- Private hiking tent while trekking (no single supplement required)
- All meals for the duration of the trip, from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 17, including snacks, tea and coffee.
- English-speaking guide
- Local horse wranglers/guides
- National Park entrance fees and border permits
- Aiport transfers
The price excludes:
- Visas, travel insurance and flights
The best way to see what riding in Kazakhstan really looks like is to see our latest videos:
www.facebook.com/TrekMongolia/videos (under Kazakhstan Playlist)
Also check out photos from 2017 here: www.facebook.com/TrekMongolia/photos
Photos and videos from the 2018 season are still to come.
Contact us now to enquire about joining us in 2019!