When you think of a destination for your next winter holiday, the first countries which pop into your mind are probably quite predictable. If we were asked to make a lucky guess, we would say France, Switzerland, Austria, maybe Scandinavia. Of course, these are not the only destinations which lend themselves for a successful wintery trip. There is so much more to see in the world. If you are dreaming about a trip off the beaten track, let us give you a hand. Why not look into Kazakhstan, a country you maybe would not immediately think of, yet one that is perfect for a winter holiday? If you are not fully convinced yet, keep on reading. You will be soon.
Of course, winter is the perfect season to go skiing, sledding, snowboarding… you get the gist. We will get to those activities in a moment, yet first of all, let’s talk about ice skating. For a lot of people, making rounds on the ice (and falling down quite a lot, let’s be honest) is something which makes them think of their childhood. For us, it was a yearly school outing we always looked forward to, anyway. But once we quit school and went on with our lives, ice skating was one of those things we never thought of anymore. And that is a shame, because it definitely can be a fun activity on a crisp winter day.
In Kazakhstan – in Medeu, to be more precise – ice skating lovers will find what they were always looking for. Maybe you did not know it but that is a whole other question, isn’t it? Anyways, at 1.691 meters above sea level, you will find the world’s highest Olympic-sized skating rink. Medeu is one of the most striking remnants of the sometimes-delusional greatness the Soviet Union was aiming for. With its 10.500 square meters, the ice-skating rink won’t feel crowded anytime soon.
All in all, Medeu certainly is the perfect place for an afternoon filled with fun. Whether you are a (semi-) professional or a total amateur (we get you), skating on this enormous field of ice definitely feels a bit out-of-this-world. The surrounding mountains, the pine trees, the cold… We do not know what it is exactly that gives us a bit of a high just thinking of this place but that does not really matter anyway. Maybe it is the altitude?
So, earlier on, we were talking about your typical winter sports. Think skiing, snowboarding, hiking in the snow and so on. Well, we have got some good news for you: in Shymbulak, you can do all of these things and more. And if we say more, we do mean a lot more. What did you think of paragliding? Or maybe the rope park is more your cup of tea? Or why not go tubing? You do not have to choose by the way, you can do all of these right here, right now.
Shymbulak is a mountain resort located close to Almaty and at its highest point, you will be at 3.200 meters above sea level. So be aware of that if you suffer from fear of heights. But even if you are a little out of your comfort zone, this place is definitely worth the effort. Visitors can choose between two types of accommodation while making a winter holiday: the boutique hotel and the resort. The first one is a little smaller, a little more luxurious and offers a great European-style restaurant. The second one is bigger but without giving in on comfort. It is up to you to choose whichever you prefer.
Imagine a crisp winter morning. You are waking up with a stunning view over the mountains, with a bright blue sky above it. All you have to do is leave your comfy duvet behind (which, we will admit, can be quite tricky), go for a yummy breakfast and put on your skiing gear. A quick ride on the lift will take you to what seems like the top of the world and then you can just enjoy the fresh snow on your way down. And this again and again, all day long. You can choose between different ski slopes, ranging from black until green and depending on your level of expertise. If you are a good skier, you do not even have to do the same slope twice on a day.
Afterwards, of course, it is time for a warming drink and a filling meal at one of the restaurants. Chances are you will be hungry, thirsty and – yes – sleepy. But you are on holiday so you do not have to worry for anything, except for which dessert you will order. And tomorrow, another day awaits, filled with snowy adventures.