Astana might be the present day Capital of Kazakhstan, but Almaty was the former capital before. Nestled at Trans-Ili Alatau foothills, today it remains the largest city in Kazakhstan containing 9% of the total population.
7 Things to Explore in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Astana might be the present day Capital of Kazakhstan, but Almaty was the former capital before. Nestled at Trans-Ili Alatau foothills, today it remains the largest city in Kazakhstan containing 9% of the total population. You would be amazed at the complete city structure of Almaty. Formerly known as Alma-Ata or Verny in Russian. It all started from a story of an apple. Well …… unlike the story of Adam and Eve, the name of Almaty was born out of the wild apple trees which dotted the land. Almaty means the “Father of Apples”. Visitors sometimes call Almaty the city of apple trees.
Let’s explore together what has Almaty got to offer besides its native apples. There is more than meets the eye.
1. Charyn National Park
The Canyon is described as the mini “Grand Canyon” found in the US. Charyn Canyon is located 200 kilometers east of Almaty within the Charyn National Park, bordering Xinjiang China. Featuring a multitude of colourful rocky formations, often crumbly to the touch.The hues of pink and orange brings out the colours and are about 80 to 90 meters in length.
2. Kok-Tobe the highest point of Almaty
Located at the highest point of Almaty with an altitude of 1100 meters above sea level, it is a place where locals enjoy walk in a park at the top, but for the visitors it is a must visit-at-least once kind of place. There is a cable car to bring you up hill. Once a top you will enjoy a breathtaking view of Almaty city. Not only that, there is a cafe in a “yurt”, there is also the only roller coaster in Kazakhstan located at the side of the mountain for the brave of heart.
3. Independence Square + Monument of Golden Man
The Monument of Independence is located on Republic Square, one of Almaty main squares. The monument is dedicated to the Republic of Kazakhstan’s rich history, from the time of Queen Tomiris to the present day.
4. First President’s Residence Park
The park was opened in November 2011 in respect to the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and was then opened to the general public. The park is home of the annual music festival called “Almaty – my first love” which usually takes place at the first week of September. This year’s celebration was held in conjunction with the Fifth Arbat Fest International Festival of Contemporary Art which runs almost throughout the month of September.
5. 28 Gunman Panfilov Park and the highlight of the nail-less wonder of Zenkov Cathedral.
Ivan Panfilov the General commanding the historic battalion, of the 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit who died fighting the Nazis outside Moscow. Hence the park is dedicated to its heroes. Located within the park area is the second tallest wooden Cathedral in the world. The cathedral is built without using any nails. The Cathedral was used as a museum after the ‘Revolution’ and restored to its original use as a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in 1990. Today it is a living history as mass still takes place this very day at the cathedral. Here visitors can enjoy two historic significance at one go.
6. Rakhat Chocolate Factory
Rakhat Chocolate Factory is akin to the Willy Wonka of Central Asia! Rakhat which means “pleasure” in Kazakh is the oldest manufactures of chocolates dating back to almost 70 years. Around 3,500 workers work in basically 2 factories, one located in Almaty and one in Shymkent city (no I do not think they hire oompa loompas to work there). The factory is located along the Zenkova street and you can reach the golden gates of Rakhat just by smelling the aromatic sweetness in the air. Don’t forget to purchase some back, as they make the perfect gifts!
7. Sunkar Falcon Farm
Enjoy a spectacular show by specially trained hawks. Hunting with hawks by the Kazakhstan people is the most unique features of the Kazakh way of life. You might even want to try it, just as the warriors of old. Located in the South of Almaty, within close proximity to the Alatau – Eliy National Park, you will find Sunkar Falcon Far which has been established for about 25 years.
Apple Vacations has put together an exotic 10 Days 8 Nights itinerary taking you across three countries in Central Asia. Rounding the trip with its highlight is a flight in to Almaty from Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Full Itinerary: GEMS OF CENTRAL ASIA
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