LAST UPDATED 27/08/2008
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Level of surfing


Quality of surf


Call code


Net code





0 km


Continental, cold winters and hot summers, arid and semiarid


Coup / Civil Unrest

Best Months

December - January




Tenge (KZT) tenge per US dollar - 126.09 (2006)

Time Zone


Special Requirements

Private Beaches, Special Pass / Permits, Lengthy VISA Process, Non tourist Friendly, Strict Religious Observance


US DoD: Meat Vendor at the Green Market in Almaty, Kazahkstan; 2006

Around 5.5 million years ago, the modern day continents of Europe and Asia (then Laurasia) finally joined with part of the Gondwana supercontinent. For millions of years, the body of water that lie between them was known as the Tethys Ocean. As this gap closed, the Ocean became the Tethys Sea and finally whay was once an ocean was lifted to form the mightly Himalayas. The residual water from this great Ocean forms the modern day Mediterranean, Black, Caspian and Aral seas. Whilst the Mediterrnanean maintains a tenuous direct passage to the open ocean via the Strait of Gibraltar, the other seas are now totally cut off; ancient reminders of a long forgotten Ocean, we are left to merely speculate on what surfing that Ocean 250 million years ago would have been like.

Surfing the Caspian Sea from Kazakhstan is like stepping back in time. with a total surface area of 371,000 square kilometres there is ample space for significant wind swell to develop. These events are uncommon but have been significant enough to sink shipping even in recent times. What you are looking for is a stray sirocco storm system to go spinning out of control across the Med and skip across Turkey to the Caspian. The window for this event is small with Nov-Dec your best bet. Can you honestly think of a more unique surfing experience than spending a northern hemisphere winter hunkered down in a bar in the Kazak town of Fort Shevchenko waiting for the mother of all storms to turn the Caspian into a swell generating machine. When it happens, hire a Lada and hit the sandy points and bars of the north and south coasts just out of town - a unique experience that few of us will ever experience.

The Aral Sea is dying. We hear of waves disapearing from the planet all the time due to the construction of piers or groynes but how often does an entire wave carrying body of water disapear. Over the last 50 years, the Aral Sea has shrunk to around half of its size. Currently at around 17,000 square kilometres, it borders on the size required to carry a large enough windswell to generate a rideable wave. 40 years ago there was regular surf, today rideable days are perhaps once every 2-3 years. Waves on the Aral sea are some of the rarest on the planet. The ongoing depletion of water means that spots that had waves 20 years ago are now several kilometres inland, surrounded by errie images of ships lying on their keels in the desert sand and the harbours of once bustling fishing villages now knee deep in grassy steppe. Part of the ancient terraforming process has thrust the Aral Sea 315 metres into the air meaning that waves here are also the highest in the world. The damage to the Aral is all man made, ongoing diversion of the rivers that supply the Aral by the former Soviet Union have seen the Sea shrink to about 25% of it's original size 200 years ago. To make matters worse, the former Soviet Union built a bioweapons research facility on Vorozhydeniya Island in the centre of the sea during the 1940's and did little to stop the area becoming a dumping ground for sewage. The two countries that share the Aral coastline, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have bowed to world pressure to attempt to salvage what remains of the Aral but the future appears bleak - surf it before it disapears forever.

what to pack

Nordelch: Flashlight; 7 January 2005

Make sure you pack according to the season. Going in winter will require warm clothes, but rapid temperature drops are common so warm clothing is necessary even on hot summer days. Windproof and waterproof clothes will be good. 

As usual, bring all medical things u need with you, as in some remote parts of the country it can be difficult to get them. Bring your own anti-septic hand-showerstuff, because the toilets are not always very clean.

Sunglasses and protective sun lotion, as well as a good repellent. All the gear if you plan to camp: a good sleeping bag and tent that are good for very low temp; special gas container u can use for heating food and water; a sturdy backpack or a cargo pack with a good daypack.

Better to bring everything with you, if you are travelling to the remote areas.

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