Altyn-Emel National Park | Kazakhstan


That Kazakhstan has so many different faces, I did not expect. And neither did Sander. When in Kazakhstan, I recommend everyone to go to Altyn-Emel National park. Why? Just look at these photos:

Singing Dunes

Aktau-mountains (aktau means white)


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Tips for Altyn-Emel National Park

The biggest tip of all: really put something on your head to protect you from the sun. Sander had “fun” after a day at Altyn-Emel 3 days after because of a sunburn.

When we arrived in Kazakhstan, we didn’t really have a plan when we wanted to see what. Through the site Caravanistan , we finally came to Sergey is an experienced guide and driver who is happy to show you all the beautiful places of his homeland. Since our Russian is not yet slick, Aika went with us. The 24-year-old Kazakhstani who studied in China for 5 years. The start of our tour went a bit messy (say, 2 hours of waiting by the side of the road, calling-I don’t speak Russian-with Sergey) because of miscommunication between Sergey and Caravanistan. Fortunately, everything worked out and 2 hours later we were in the 4×4 heading for Altyn-Emel. From Almaty, you are about 5 hours away.

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What are the odds?

That you run into a Dutchman in Kazakhstan? Not very big. But how likely are you to run into someone you know? Even smaller right? Sander was puzzled when he suddenly heard his name during a layover in the middle of nowhere. ‘eeeehh, huh?’ Turned out that the van with the Dutch license plate (which was already rare) belonged to a former colleague of his. Then you do stand blinking your eyes 3 times.


Sleeping in a yurt near Altyn-Emel National Park

We slept in the small village next door in the (it seemed) only guesthouse in the village. The nice thing was that you can also sleep in a yurt here. For us it was not possible because the wind was too strong. By the way, the rooms are fine. They are small double rooms with 2 twin beds. Nothing fancy, does what it needs to do. Sleep well. And, there was wifi. The food the owners made for us vegetarians was exotic by Kazakhstani standards. And for us happily delicious.


You could also take an overnight train directly from Astana to Almaty. And then go do this tour the next day. Because Kazakhstan is not yet so attuned to tourists, if you are short on time, we recommend that you do orient yourself in advance as to where you would like to book a tour. In any case, we recommend Sergey .