During the eight-week stay in Kazakhstan, students will be able to participate in weekly excursions in and around the city of Astana, including visiting the national park Burabay (Borovoye), the KARLAG (Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp) – one of the largest labor camps in the GULAG system, and a trip to the Korgalzhyn nature reserve – the northernmost habitat of pink flamingoes. Living and studying on the campus of Nazarbayev University, situated just across the street from the site of Expo 2017 “Future Energy,” students will become emerged in the atmosphere of international cooperation and entrepreneurship.
Astana Modern City Tour (left bank) – a three-hour tour of the left bank (Modern Astana) includes trips to Independence Square, Khazret Sultan Mosque, Water-Green boulevard complex, Astana-Bayterek monument, the Round Square, and the shopping and entertainment center, “The Khan’s Tent” (Khan Shatyr).
Kazakh culture day – a day dedicated to elements of the Kazakh culture related to language and rituals; specific rituals linked to interactions of man with nature, and rituals related to stages of the socialization of men (besyk toi, tusau kesu, bet ashar, shashu, til, ashar, etc.).
Traditional Nomadic Hunting with Eagles – Nomads took such an interest in working with eagles that they domesticated them in order to use them for hunting. By participating in this tour, students will learn the history of Berkutchi, ways of hunting with eagles, as well as some basic techniques. This demonstration of hunting will take place outside Astana.
KARLAG Tour and the Balbals, Ancient Stone Guards of the Kazakh Steppe – in this guided tour of the “Dolinka” village, students will visit the memorial museum for the victims of political repressions. Students will get to see prisoners’ everyday objects; including a diary that describes the events of 1930-1960’s, photos and documents, beds and minutiae of the prisoners.
The “Old” City Tour (right bank) and Kazakh Markets – Astana used to be one of the old Soviet cities, named Tselinograd and Akmola during the years of 1961-1998. After visiting the modern side of the city, students will be able to experience and compare the right bank of the city, and see how much of the city has changed since Astana had become the capital. Students can walk along the Central Park, the Ishym riverbank, get a boat tour of the city, and visit churches, mosques and synagogues. A stop at the big central market and a lunch in the old city will finish off the tour.
“Balkaragay” Country Club and Stables – An exciting trip for horse and nature enthusiasts. An experienced instructor will give a lesson on horse riding at the same race track where training and competitions are held and race horses are kept. Afterwards, students will be treated to a delicious Kazakh meal with aromatic tea from a Russian samovar (heated metal container traditionally used to heat and boil water in Russia).
Astana Day Festivities – on July 6, Astana celebrates its anniversary as Kazakhstan’s capital. Astana Day, as it’s called, is a national holiday in Kazakhstan. Every year this bright and exciting event is a fun and beautiful celebration for the city’s visitors and residents. Weeklong festivities with vibrant performances and cultural events entertain people while celebrating Kazakh culture and Kazakhstan’s multi-ethnic social fabric. The festival recognizes Astana’s transformation from a provincial city into a 21st century regional hub.
Weekend Trip to Burabay (Borovoe) – students will have a guided tour to Burabay National park (Borovoe), the pearl of Kazakhstan, which occupies 85,000 hectares of the northeastern part of Kokshetau elevation. There are 14 lakes in the park, each having surface area of more than 1 sq. km, and a large number of breathtaking views over the small lakes. The trip includes meals and a one night hotel stay.
Explore Kazakhstan Optional Trips
For a long weekend in the middle of the program, students will have an opportunity to take an optional trip to one of the following destinations:
Almaty is the former capital of Kazakhstan and the biggest city in the country. Students will take a train to Almaty and be housed and entertained by Nazarbayev University students. The trip will include a tour of Almaty and visits to such sites as the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, Republic Square and the Monument to Independence, the Abay Opera and Ballet Theatre, Astana Square, Almaty Railway Station, the Central Mosque, the Green Bazaar, Panfilov Park, Abay Square and the Palace of the Republic.
Turkestan and Shymkent
Turkestan is 1,500-year-old historic city located in southern Kazakhstan. The nearby city of Shymkent was the political and spiritual center for Turkic-speaking people and a former capital of the Kazakh Khanate. One of the main sights of the city is the mausoleum of Khodzha Akhmed Yassaui. This trip will also include a visit to Shymkent’s attractions: the Tauyelsizdik Sayabagy square, the Regional Museum, and the Samal Bazar.
Bishkek and Issyk-Kul Lake (Kyrgystan)
Students will have an opportunity to visit Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek is a vibrant city surrounded by large trees and situated within the Tien Shan mountain range in the Chui Valley. The city tour will be followed by a night trip to the second largest lake in the world called “Issyk-Kul”(translated as “warm lake” by the local Kyrgyzs).
Photo credits: Dulat Yesnazar, Victoria Thorstensson, Togzhan Sultanbayeva, Adema Nurgaliyeva, Jyldyz Tabyldy, Aiganym Ayazbayeva, Rustem Aitkhozhin