Reason # 1: Winter
If you want to try real winter tours, biking Kazakhstan will be the
perfect country to do it in. In the north, there is snow from November to
April. To experience a winter storm in 50 C below zero will give you
memories for a lifetime.
Reason # 2: Tian Shan
In southeastern Kazakhstan on the border with Kyrgystan and China you can find Tian Shan, a mountain chain with peaks of up to 7000 meters. It is a beautiful area with varied landscapes from glaciers to arid valleys.
When you visit Kazakhstan, it is also worth spending time in the mountains south of Almaty.
Resaon #3: Concrete Art
Kazakhstan has hundreds of concrete statues from the USSR. They stand as monuments from the past. You can see them all over the country and they are visible from a long distance.
If you want to see more concrete art, you could drop by any old bus stop. You will find a little shelter in concrete with a bit of Soviet concrete art.
Reason #4: Ghost Towns
When Kazakhstan became independent in 1991, many of society’s vital functions disappeared . The population experienced quite a few hard years.
Many left the country to seek a better future in Russia and Western Europe. Some came back to Kazakhstan, but most stayed away. Their elderly parents were left behind in Kazakhstan as well as many empty houses and apartments.
Some cities were almost deserted, and to get there, it feels like visiting a ghost town. My favorite ghost town is Arkalyk which I think is worth a visit.
Reason # 5: Tulips
Actually, this paragraph shall be the Central Asian steppe. The vast steppe dominated by feather grass in the north and sagebrush in the south. The steppe is most beautiful in spring when the wild tulips are in full bloom. So the last reason to cycle across Kazakhstan is to see the tulips bloom.
Stellan Johansson is a touring cyclist from Sweden who made his first bike trip in 2000 when he crossed Australia from east to west.
He fell for the ride but it took until 2002 until he made his next tour. The idea was to bike from Sweden to Singapore, but he didn’t do it. After 17,000 kms, he stood outside Hong Kong with a broken bicycle frame.
Since 2002 he has been more or less constantly on the road and biked much of the time in Central Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and West Africa.
In total, he has biked 85,000 kilometers through 50 countries.
Stellan writes about his travels at www.sandstorm.se
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