Kyzylorda is a lively city set on the Syr-Darya River. Fuelled largely by the local oil and gas industry, the city is an ideal base for visiting nearby destinations like the Aral Sea and the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Things to do in Kzyl-Orda
The Kyzylorda Regional Museum charts the rich history and heritage of the city. The archaeological exhibits are the highlight and feature treasures from nearby excavation sites like Syganak and Sauran, an ancient Silk Road settlement. There are centuries-old helmets worn by Khanate warriors, as well as exhibits spotlighting local writers, musicians and sports heroes.
Operated by Russia, the Baikonur Cosmodrome is one of the largest operational space launch facilities in the world. While you can’t tour the facility, you may be able to watch a rocket launch if you’re lucky. In the Baikonur town centre is the small but engaging Space Museum, which features displays on famous rockets and space shuttles. Highlights include peering into the cottage where famous Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin slept before his flight on the Vostok 3KA space capsule.
Local 4WD expeditions are the best way to visit the infamous Aral Sea. The southern shoreline is rugged and remote, with access only by all-terrain vehicles. The bone-dry seabed and sprawling salt flats look like a scene from another planet. Eventually, you’ll reach what remains of the cobalt-blue Aral Sea. Swim in the salt water to experience weightlessness similar to the Dead Sea.
From cosy cafes to family-run restaurants, the city centre offers great places to refuel. Try local specialties like “shelpek” flatbread, “kuurdak” mutton and “koktal” baked fish made with carp from the Caspian Sea. If you’re feeling adventurous, try “koumiss” fermented horse milk, the national drink of Kazakhstan.
Getting around Kzyl-Orda
Taxis are a fast and comfortable way to get around Kyzylorda. Long-distance trains connect Kyzylorda with cities like Aqtobe, Atyrau, Uralsk and Saratov.