A New Side To... KazakhstanA New Side To... Kazakhstan

A New Side To Kazakhstan

Astana, Kazakhstan

"Kazakhstan greatest country in the world, All other countries are run by little girls.”

Borat casts a long, mankini-wearing shadow over the ninth biggest country in the world. But cast images of naked wrestling and rodeo singing aside. The real Kazakhstan is even weirder.

Astana, the Kazak capital, is a sci-fi mirage, in a land where wolves outnumber people.

Kazakhstan. Very nice.

The Bayterek Tower

‘Go inside the golden egg of beginnings, to see the modern world from a place of history and legend…’

Erm, sure.

The Bayterek Tower looks like a giant World Cup Trophy, but it’s actually full of meaning. It's based on a local folktale about a bird with a golden egg, and stands 97 metres tall to represent 1997 (the year Astana became the capital of Kazakhstan).

Head to the top for the best view of the city.

Pivovaroff Microbrewery

“We produce two types of beer – a pale one and a dark one.”

Fair play.

Pivovaroff Microbrewery may not push the boat out, but it does what it does very well. It’s the kind of place you’d expect to find in a newly gentrified part of East London, but the cool kids here all speak Kazakh.

All the beer is brewed onsite in the two copper vats at the back of the bar - pull up a stool and try ‘em both.

Khan Shatyr

Weird buildings litter Astana’s skyline, but none as cuckoo as Khan Shatyr.

It’s a giant see-through tent, filled with a drop tower, flume ride, monorail and beach.

It stays warm inside even when the weather outside drops to a ball-shrinking −50°C - seriously.

Mystery Meat Noodles

“Waiter, there’s a hoof in my soup…”

Beshbarmak is a broth of noodles, fat and mystery meat (beef, lamb, horse and camel are common).

Alright alright, this is probs exactly what you think of when someone mentions Kazkhstan. But Kishlak restaurant is the best at serving up every aspect of traditional Kazak life - there’s live music, folk costumes and enough vodka to make you forget what you just ate.

Wait... Flamingos

Flamingos in Kazakhstan. Who knew??

The world’s most northern flock of these pink beauties lives in Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve, just 2 hours from Astana.

There’s also foxes, moose, deer, lynx and wolves roaming round the giant park.

If you’re cool with wolves, you can stay in the park overnight.

Sum Up:

Borat made us think Kazakhstan was a country of tumbledown shacks, backwards people and horse meat soup. But it’s actually an architectural wonder, with some of the friendliest people going and… horse meat soup. But hey, you don’t have to eat it.

Psst, the temperature in January floats around the tear-freezing -8°C point. It suddenly jumps up to 20°C in April.