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The true journey of discovery is not about seeking new landscapes, but about having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

Kazakhstan is an enormous country, largely flat and arid, with steppes as far as the eye can see, covered only by a few camels, wild horses and bushes. In certain regions of the country, there are nevertheless some gems that we have rarely seen elsewhere and which should absolutely not be missed.

When you travel by van in this country, there is inevitably a moment when you can't get enough of its roads. Not only because we have to drive huge distances to get from one place to another, but also because the often disastrous state of the roadways wears out both our bodies and our van. These moments of endless driving nevertheless offer time to lose ourselves in our deepest thoughts.


VISA - On entry 1 month free (max duration 90 days/6 months)


TAXES - None

SIM - Beeline: 44 gb/ 6990 KZT for one month

DIESEL - 295 KZT/L Be careful sometimes the pump attendants try to apply a so-called fare according to which foreigners pay 450 KZT/L

INSURANCE - 20,000 KZT/month

DOG - Microchip not required, vaccination (rabies between 30 days and 1 year, square, hepatitis, viral enteritis, parvovirus, adenovirus infections, letospiros), health certificate required (all of which is rarely checked at land borders)



We were warned that in Central Asia there were serious corruption problems. According to our experience and according to the feedback we have had from other travelers with whom we were in contact, it is in Kazakhstan that the situation is the most extreme. At the slightest misstep, the police will not hesitate to arrest you. Sometimes they even seem to make up rules to have a reason to do it. Once at their mercy, they demand astronomical sums, not always justified, to let you leave.

We used a few techniques to curb their ardor and verify the validity of their claim:

  • telling them that we didn't speak their local language or English (they don't seem to know what to do around someone who keeps talking in a language they don't understand).

  • tell them that we were going to call our embassy to ask for help with the translation (the threat of an official interlocutor can put the situation within a legal framework).

  • Ask them for their badge and take a photo of it (this gives you proof of who they are)

  • Say that your only means of payment is a bank card (in the event of payment then the money goes into an official account and not their pocket).

  • Say that for every payment you issue a receipt (a receipt formalizes the transaction)

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Aktolagay plateau

44.07984, 53.08138

The Magystau region is located in western Kazakhstan. It is part of the Turan Plain, which extends across Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It is characterized by relatively flat terrain with some low hills. In places, there are cliffs made up of white chalk.


The closer we get to the cliffs that can be seen from afar, the more our van raises a thick white cloud. In fact, the earth gave way to chalk soil which turned into dust as vehicles passed by.

Departure big tour

43.45936, 54.07412

In the southwestern part of Kazakhstan, close to the Caspian Sea and the city of Aktau, there are exceptional places including Lake Sor Tuzbair and the cliffs of Bosjyra.

In order to discover these majestic places of Kazakhstan, it is possible to take either an asphalt road that camper vans can take, or to take a track, where only 4x4s can pass, but which allows you to make a loop. This option allows us to discover several points that we would not have seen by taking the normal route.

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Sor Tuzbair

44.03891, 53.15859

The track, on which we set off, seems to take us into the middle of an enormous desert space without any human presence. At the end of this track, we discover enormous cliffs made of white powder which hide a salt lake. Lately, it has been raining a lot in this region, so the lake, which normally remains rather dry, is covered with water. The cliffs around it are reflected on the water, like in a mirror. It is a spectacular landscape, the likes of which we have rarely ever discovered.

Mount Bokty

43.42283, 53.79909

Now that our van is jacked up and we have new off-road wheels and a skid plate from hell, we decide to hit a lot more trails. However, the country is made up of enormous expanses where there is no living soul or network. So, before setting off into the middle of this desert, it is important to list your route as well as points of interest on an offline map. This is the only way for us to venture off the beaten track without getting lost.


Mount Bokty is one of those places that can only be reached by taking tracks. It is a remarkable sandstone rock formation located in the Mangystau region of Kazakhstan. This mountain with multiple layers of varied color almost looks like a tiramisu.

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Ustyurt Park, Bosjyra


The track that leads to the Bosjyra cliffs, in the Ustyurt National Park, is one of those tracks where very smooth tracks follow much more technical passages. On these, we have to think about where to put our wheels, get out of the van to check that nothing is rubbing or even chock one or the other of our wheels to gain ground clearance. To be honest, we reached the limits of our van and we weren't sure we would arrive safely.

After that, we let ourselves be guided on a relatively smooth track taking us to the gigantic cliffs that we could already see from afar, the famous walls of Bosjyra. This site is very popular in Kazakhstan and we are not alone there.

Bosjyra seen from above

43.40765, 54.10169

To be able to discover all the places in the Ustyurt National Park, you should be able to stay there for at least a week. Lots of places are worth the detour and as there is no network there, you absolutely must have done your research in advance.

We love these landscapes and we take the time to change our point of view to admire the cliffs from different angles.

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Climb Tamgaly-Tas

44.061329, 76.996217

As is often the case when we look for climbing spots, we find this site on the free the crag application accessible to everyone on the internet. This spot is perfect, it is located not far from the city of Almaty and is located between a wide river and high cliffs.

To get there, several trails are indicated. We choose one marked on the map as a white road. In reality, it's a real track, technical in places. At one point we prefer to turn around and try our luck on another route that we have found. For once, the latter is much easier.

Once there, it doesn't take us long before we find ourselves at the foot of the tracks and finally rest our fingers on beautiful cliffs.

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