On September 18, Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev took part in a working trip to the Mangistau Region. For the occasion, he reviewed a plan for the development of a tourist hub on the Caspian Sea coast.
The new resort area on the Caspian coast is expected to generate around 50,000 new jobs and to attract approximately $2 billion in investment.
Last July, the tourism development of the region was favored by the opening of the five-star hotel Rixos Water World Aktau. Nazarbayev declared that this luxury hotel represents only the first step towards the development of an international tourist hub on the Caspian Sea, which will have positive economic effects on single regions, as well as the entire country.
“Since our independence, we have done a lot. The previously unknown country known as Kazakhstan now occupies a worthy place on the world map. We have built a new capital. Today it serves as a landmark for the development of other regional centers and regions. I plan to visit the city of Turkestan, a place sacred for all Muslims. In recent times, this ancient capital of the Kazakh Khanate was transformed, but today it has great tourism potential,” he said.
Kazakhstan’s tourist sector offers not only unique natural landscapes, but also cultural sites, historical venues, and archeological monuments that enable the country to attract tourists with different needs and desires. The Kazakh government will continue developing places and regions with large tourist potential. Besides the Mangistau Region, Nazarbayev believes that there are other Kazakh places with high tourism potential, including the Alakol and Balkhash lakes, Turkestan, and the Shchuchinsko-Borovskoi resort area.
1. The Mangistau Region
The Mangistau region is situated in the south-western part of Kazakhstan, east of the Caspian Sea and right at the border with Uzbekistan on the east, and Turkmenistan on the south. The region has a very diverse landscape, including plateaus, lowland, mountains and desert lands. Although this area is worldwide known for its vast oil and gas reserves, among locals it is also famous for its numerous historical sites and its 362 saints that attract pilgrims.
A must-visit place in the Mangistau region is the Ustyurt Plateau, a 200 square kilometers clay desert with rocky sand cliffs. Particularly important is also the Beket Ata mosque: a popular place of pilgrimage in which the tomb of the spiritual teacher and philosopher Beket Ata is located.
Another important piece of architecture is the Shakpak Ata underground mosque, located in the Tub-Karagan district. Dating back to the 9th-10th centuries, it is one of the most ancient monuments of the region. Finally, also the Seisem Ata necropolis is worth a visit. Here is where some of the most prominent historical figures were buried.
Recently, the tourist sector of the area was boosted by the opening of the Rixos Water World Aktau hotel. This five-star luxury hotel is the first all-inclusive family recreation complex of Kazakhstan. It includes an artificial lagoon with a special seawater heating and filtration system.
2. Lakes Alakol and Balkhash
Alakol is a 104-km long lake located on the south-east border of Kazakhstan. Thanks to its high mineral content, the lake’s water is considered therapeutic.
Lake Balkhash is situated in east-central Kazakhstan and has a length of 605 km, which makes it the 14th largest lake in the entire world. It is divided into two parts: the western part has fresh water, while the eastern part is saline.
The two lakes are located in one geological structure: they both lie in the huge Balqash-Alaköl basin, 342 m above sea level. The lakes’ basin lies in a diverse environment, with unique landscapes and different plant species that have always attracted botanists and curious people. In the neighborhoods of lake Alakol and lake Balkhash there is always something to do. It is possible to do scuba diving, relax on beautiful beaches with fine sand, ride on catamarans, bike along the lakes’ shore, fishing, and much more… All these surrounded by picturesque views and breathtaking pristine landscapes.
If you plan to stay overnight, there are numerous hotels right on the coastal territory. One of them is the Aquamarine Resort Hotel, located in the Akshi area, right on the Alakol lake. It has an outdoor swimming pool, a sauna, a restaurant, and a kids’ club: all these in a green healthy environment.
Turkestan is a city located in southern Kazakhstan, and specifically in the Syr Darya plain. In the past, it was an ancient trade center and one of the most important commercial routes on the Silk Road. Today, it has been transformed into a religious center. The entire area includes many historical buildings, ancient mausoleums, archaeological sites, and monuments. Some examples are the Mausoleum of Rabiga-Sultan Begum, the tomb of Robia Sultan Begim, the Hilvet semi-underground mosque, and many more. But surely the most important attraction of both tourists and pilgrims is the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed, where the poet has been buried.
Many tourists travel to Turkestan on a day trip from Shymkent, which is a great area to base yourself as it serves as a getaway to very interesting places. One popular luxury hotel to stay at in Shymkent is the Rixos Khadisha Shymkent. This 5-star hotel offers a gym, a swimming pool, a spa center with sauna, Turkish hammam and a snow room. The hotel includes two restaurants: one serving typical Asian cuisine, and another one offering Italian specialties.
4. The Shchuchinsko-Borovskoi resort area
Shchūchīnsk, also spelled Shchuchinsk, is a city located on lake Shchuchye in northern Kazakhstan. The city was founded in 1828 and is now the center of a large agricultural area. Shchuchinsk is also known to be a health resort and the railway station for Kazakhstan’s most famous health resort, Borovoye. Borovoye is situated 25 km to the northeast and only a few hours’ drive from the capital Nur Sultan. It is a resort area of forests, lakes and hills, also known as the Switzerland of Kazakhstan for its wild nature.
The highest point of the area is Kokshetau mountain (literally “Blue Mountain”). On the southern side, there are Shchuchinsk hills. But what Burubay is truly famous for are the lakes, all located among the forests surrounded by the mountains. The biggest lakes include Shchuchye, Burubay, and Kotyrkol. There are also numerous smaller lakes, such as Svetloe, Karasie, Mountainous, and Swan. The combination of mountains, forests, and lakes create a special healthy climate. This is why in this area it is possible to find sanatoriums, and tourist health resorts.
The Rixos Borovoe Hotel is the first 5-star luxury health resort of Kazakhstan. It is situated on the lake Shchuchink and it is surrounded by the forests of the National Park. The combination of mountains, lakes and forests creates the perfect atmosphere to relax in the nature. The hotel has 200 spatious modern rooms with beautiful panoramic views, one Italian restaurant, and one Turkish restaurant.