Van Life Kazakhstan: two-week road trip with a 4×4 camper van

Driving a camper van in Kazakhstan

One month road trip in Kazakhstan with a 4X4 Camper Van
Two-week road trip in Kazakhstan with a 4X4 Camper Van

Traveling while driving is always fun. I spent two weeks in Kazakhstan during my one-year trip with a DIY Mercedes Sprinter camper van.

Kazakhstan is a country I have been a few times before, and coming back is always a pleasure.

The culture of Kazakhstan is mainly driven by the Kazakh people, who came from an organized way of life, with its nomadic and grazing practices.

Islam was introduced gradually since the fifteenth century, a religion that coexisted with tengriism, an ancient religion practiced by the Turks and Mongols, before the propagation of the so-called great religions.

This country was integrated in the Soviet Union in 1920 under the name of Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakhstan, situation that in 1991 is undone, becoming an independent republic.

On this same camper van trip, I entered the country twice:

  1. Coming from Russia on the way to Kyrgyzstan;
  2. A few months later, coming from the Republic of Karakalpakstan, on the way to Aktau to get the Caspian Sea ferry-boat all the way to Azerbaijan.

Read my page: Visit Karakalpakstan

Curiosities about the geography of Kazakhstan

Van Life Kazakhstan: two-week road trip with a 4×4 camper van
Road sign to enter the city of Oral
  • The geography of Kazakhstan counts with a territorial area of 2 717 300 Km 2. It is the largest country in Central Asia and the ninth largest in the world.
  • Part of the Kazakh territory belongs to Europe.
  • This country delimits borders to the East with China, to the South with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, to the Southwest with Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea, and to the North and to the West with Russia.
  • The landscape of Kazakhstan is largely flat, with the exception of the East and Southeast bordering Kyrgyzstan, China and Russia, where you will find very high mountains.
  • Kazakhstan is also composed of desert, semi-desert and steppes.
  • The highest point of Kazakhstan reaches 6995 meters on Mount Khan Tengri.
  • In Mangystau Region there are some areas such as Karakiya Cavity that are located below sea level.
  • The most important rivers and lakes of Kazakhstan are the Irtysh River, the Ishim River, Lake Balkhash and Lake Zaysan.

Best memories of driving in Kazakhstan

Driving in Kazakhstan
Driving in Kazakhstan
  • Border crossing from Russia into Kazakhstan.
  • Visiting a city called Oral, in northern Kazakhstan.
  • Thousands of kms driving in steppe, without changing landscape.
  • Returning to the fabulous Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi in the city of Turkestan, built in 1389 by Timur.
  • Visiting the Ancient City of Otrar, one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. The first settlements of Otrar appeared in the VIII century.
  • Border crossing from Uzbekistan into Kazakhstan.
  • Sleeping near camels at the UZ / KZ border with -20 degrees Celsius (about -4 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Crossing the ice highway from the Uzbek border to Beynau thru the famous E-40 road.
  • Crossing the A-33 road all the way to the Caspian Sea coastal city of Aktau.
  • Crossing the Karakiya Cavity – 132 meters (433 ft) below sea level, 3rd lowest in the world.
  • Driving in Kazakhstan in October during the fall.
  • Driving in Kazakhstan in January during the winter.

NOTE: Everyone who knows me acknowledges the love I have for driving. The pleasure of traveling while behind the wheel is, for me, one of the best ways to explore the world. I don’t quite know if it is the sense of open road freedom, having the ability to stop wherever I feel or the sensation of physically taking myself from one place to the next. Being a natural born driver, I have driven cars in more than 50 countries altogether. Some of my top memories are driving in Iceland, Peru, Russia, Iraq, South Africa, or Afghanistan.

My itinerary in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Road Trip

Kazakhstan Road Trip
Map driving in Kazakhstan
  1. Oral
  2. Aral
  3. Sawran Ancient City
  4. Turkestan
  5. Ancient Otrar
  6. Arystan Bab Mausoleum
  7. Cotton Factory in Tortkol
  8. Shymkent
  9. Karakiya Cavity
  10. Aisha Bibi Mausoleum
  11. Aktau
  12. Necropolis Koshkar-Ata

Map of camper van trip in Kazakhstan

Total KM: 2960 km (1839 mi)

Places visited in Kazakhstan

When night falls and it’s time to sleep in Kazakhstan – Van life

Places where I spent the night

Driving in Kazakhstan – What to know

  • Roads in Kazakhstan are mostly in good conditions.
  • I’ve driven a few times in Kazakhstan, and as far as my experience goes, police officers are friendly.
  • Always be careful because there are camels crossing local roads and major highways.
  • During winter time, the ice highway from the Uzbek border to Beynau thru the E-40 is very dangerous.
  • There is a ferry-boat connecting Aktau in Kazakhstan to Baku in Azerbaijan. I took this boat and spent 48 hours in the sea (because of a big storm the trip took longer).

Driving in Kazkhstan with a Camper Van

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