Visit the Russian spaceport of Baikonur on this unique Kazakhstan expedition
Where can you explore space without ever leaving earth? In Kazakhstan, of course! In the middle of nowhere on the dusty Kazakh steppe is the settlement of Baikonur, the seat of the Soviet – now Russian – space program and the site where, if all goes to plan, we’ll witness a live rocket launch. Beginning in cosmopolitan Almaty, join us on this expedition through Kazakhstan, from the shrunken Aral Sea to the ancient city of Turkistan and the Silk Road portals of Sayram and Shymkent. Ready for a rare, fascinating adventure through one of the least-explored corners of the earth? 3, 2, 1, liftoff.
As this trip is yet to depart for 2016 some itinerary changes may be made in response to traveller feedback. New departures have been added based around the 2017 launch schedule. This is, as always, subject to change. Please avoid booking flights until 2017 in case date changes are necessary.
Truly off the beaten track, Kazakhstan sees few travellers, especially outside Almaty and capital Astana. Feel the remoteness of Central Asia on this one-of-a-kind expedition
Visit dusty Baikonur, the hub of the Soviet – and now Russian – space program. Check out the Cosmodrome, the world’s oldest and largest spaceport, and witness a manned rocket launch
Explore the Aral Sea, which suffered environmental and humanitarian devastation in the 60s due to Soviet irrigation projects. Enjoy a homestay with local friends and meet those working with an NGO to restore the area
Discover the history and architecture of the Silk Road, visiting ancient mausoleums and mosques on guided tours in the cities of Turkistan, Sayram and Shymkent
Travel alongside locals and admire wild, sweeping vistas on epic train rides across the Kazakh steppe
This expedition takes you way off the tourist trail and onto the wild Kazakh steppe. If you want to be far, far away from everywhere – and from anything you've experienced before – this trip is for you.
Be prepared to experience the full legacy of the Soviet era – not just in the sights and history, but also in the standards of accommodation and service! In other words, while you’ll be comfortable, don’t expect luxury.
While we’ve put a lot of research and work into creating this trip, it’s a new adventure for Intrepid, and sometimes things don’t go exactly to plan. The space launch could be cancelled (in which case we’ll still visit Baikonur), or the itinerary could change at the last minute. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but either way, it’s important to be open and flexible. This is expedition travel after all!
In true expedition style, the trip involves some long travel days by mini van, local public buses and local trains. While tiring, this is a great opportunity to sit back, unwind and let the sweeping views roll by.
We’ll experience varying temperatures in the desert and out on the steppe. The days can be very hot, while at night, the mercury plummets. Make sure you bring warm, comfortable layers, drink plenty of water and take care to protect yourself from the sun. For women, we recommend bringing a scarf to cover your head and shoulders while on visits to mosques and mausoleums.
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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Expedition - Baikonur & Kazakhstan trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.
1. We require a completed Baikonur Permit Form and clear, scanned colour copy of your passport at the time of booking, no later than 60 days prior to departure.
2. Many nationalities do not require a visa for Kazakhstan for stays of under 30 days. Please check with your nearest consulate for specific information.
3. Please be aware that there is a possibility that the space launch may not occur on the scheduled date or access to sites at Baikonur may be limited. Our permit for the area will be dates specific, so if this does occur we will continue to visit Baikonur as planned but may not be able to witness the launch.
4. During this journey the group will spend time in remote areas without home comforts or easy access to quality medical facilities. Although a high level of physical fitness is not required, travellers should be comfortable with the realities of an off the beaten track adventure, and prepared for some very basic conditions at times.
5. A single supplement is available at the time of booking, but this doesn't not include day 7 (overnight train)
Our Expedition - Baikonur & Kazakhstan trips score an average of 4.2 out of 5 based on 5 reviews in the last year.
This was a great trip, with an interesting mix of ancient history, twentieth century history, and, well, a frakkin' space launch! We had two great guides, whose different styles balanced each other out. Nazira has an incredibly deep knowledge of the region, and infectious sense of awe and enthusiasm. Sergei’s logistical skills ensured we saw the launch despite a number of date changes. And his sense of humour, and super-chilled demeanour, made sure things never got too serious. And speaking of chilled, yes it was cold. But if you want to see the Kazakh steppe at it’s terrifying, inhospitable best, 20 below zero is the only way! Anyone into “ruin porn” will find Baikonur city pretty interesting. It reminded me maybe of Vogelsang in Germany, only still inhabited. Almost like a Soviet theme park. Almaty is also very interesting. Lots of gnarly Soviet architecture, broad streets, and snow. All in all, we had a blast. Pun intended.
Review submitted 09 Jan 2017
Kazakhstan in November is cold. At 2 in the morning waiting for a Soyuz launch it is bitterly cold. You aren't moving, and you are trying to maintain your place in a crowd. It can be stressful. Forget the pictures. Watch the launch.
Review submitted 15 Dec 2016