Vast and varied, Kazakhstan is little known and little visited despite being the most prosperous and established of the ‘stans'.
Travel to Kazakhstan starts in the commercial centre Almaty; set between mountains and plains it's a modern metropolis with boutique hotels and numerous cafés. The Almaty Nature Reserve is home to snow leopards and big-horned wild sheep; it's also popular with climbers who want to tackle the mighty peaks here.
Northerly Astana is emerging as a contemporary capital, filled with Soviet, Western, Islamic and surreal futuristic architecture. Aktau on the Caspian Sea lies close to ancient sites and is a good base for exploring underground mosques, rock carvings, mausoleums and a necropolis.
Outside the urban centres, the country is renowned for the steppes, where Kazakhstan's legendary horsemen still roam. Take up the challenge of a riding holiday here or visit the steppe lakes to see vast flocks of flamingos. Those looking for activity and adventure holidays in Kazakhstan can walk, climb or even ski in the Tien Shan and Altay Mountains. There's also desert, where the Singing Barkhan, a 2-mile long sand dune crumbles to produce a strange singing sound.