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Terry's Peace Corps Experience: Uralsk, Kazakhstan

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Getting to Kazakhstansmall logo

Flights to Almaty most commonly transit through Istanbul ( Turkey ), Vienna ( Austria ), Frankfurt ( Germany ) and Moscow ( Russia ). The main Asia links are Ürümqi ( Xinjiang , China ), Islamabad ( Pakistan ) and New Delhi ( India ). Some smaller Kazak cities have international flights but rarely to anywhere except Russia .

Long-distance rail connections include a daily Moscow-Almaty service and another line to Almaty from China via Ürümqi. The latter route is notable for the unpleasant China-Kazakstan border crossing (think eight hours, no toilets, plundering officials). There's an overland route from Ürümqi to Almaty via the border post at Khorgos and Zharkent, accessible year-round. There are two other China-Kazakstan crossings farther north, at Bakhty (Tacheng on the China side) and Maykapchigay (Jeminay in China ), but it's a toss up whether they're open to foreigners.

If you're more into travelling than arriving, there's a hybrid journey by air from Turkey to Baku (Azerbaijan), by cargo vessel across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, and from there to Ashghabat, Bukhara and beyond by train. (Source: Lonely Planet)

Getting Around

Flying saves time and takes the tedium out of Kazakstan's long distances, but it is the least edifying and arguably the least safe mode of transport in the region. However, for some destinations, and in some seasons, flying is the only sensible option.

Trains are cheap, slow and easy going, but crowded. Buses are the most frequent and convenient way to get between towns cheaply, and the best way to see what remains of the land of the nomads, though long trips can be tedious and cramped, and vehicles are prone to breakdowns. An option in many areas is to hire a car and driver: Taxis and private citizens are often willing to take travellers between cities. (Source: Lonely Planet)




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