Nightmares from the USSR

Nightmares from the USSR

A tour to former nucleair test sites

On the way in Central Kazakhstan

Highlights of this 6-day program to the former nucleair test sites nearby Semipalatinsk (Semey):
– excursions in old & new Astana
– touring the interesting hilly steppe landscape of Central Kazakhstan
– a safe excursion to the former nucleair test sites with an expert
– getting to know the rich history of the steppe, the city of Karaganda and her surroundings
– visiting monuments in and around Astana & Karaganda that are connected to the USSR

The tour program starts in Astana and ends in Karaganda (this can be altered in a private tour). Part of the tour travels in the former nucleair test zone close to Semipalatinsk. A short stay in this area is not dangerous for your health, as long as you stick to the rules set out by the accompanying expert.

The Kazakhstani part of the Soviet heritage is represented in the central part of the country in the best way. This is where notorious correctional camps of the Stalin epoch – “Karlag” and “ALZHIR” were situated. These are the lands which became witnesses of the nuclear explosions, made during Cold War and Arms Race. The history of the Civil War, which followed the October revolution, is also represented abundantly. Developing virgin lands, industrialization, urbanization… Silent witnesses of all those processes, being a part of life in the USSR, are still can be seen here, in the very heart of Kazakhstan

Day 1

day travel distance: 73 kms

Central Astana with a view of the Baiterek Tower

Arrival to the Astana airport. Transfer from the airport to the city. Accommodation at a hotel, breakfast. A half-day survey excursion around the city: the sights of the Soviet time (including political repressions victims’ memorial, excursion to the Presidential culture center, Congress-Hall, “Yesil” hotel, Pioneers’ House, national security commitee, “Oktyabr” cinema, “Molodezhniy” palace, steam locomotive monument etc.), the new administrative center on the left riverside of Ishim. Lunch.

Trip to the Akmol (Malinovka) village and back (4 hours) including an excursion to the museum of the former “ALZHIR” correctional camp. Dinner.




Day 2

day travel distance: 635 km

Alzhir Memorial Complex nearby Astana

Breakfast. Journey from Astana to Aksu (440 km, about 6 hours long). Lunch and visiting the public garden, where monuments of the Soviet period are kept together.

Journey from Aksu to Kurchatov (195 km, about 2.5 hours long). Accommodation in Kurchatov. Walking tour around the town, being the former center of the Semipalatinsk test site (general directorate of the National Nuclear Center, National Security committee building, house of Lavrentiy Beria, deserted part of the town). Dinner.


Day 3

day travel distance: 120 kms

Radiation levels were measured here

Breakfast. Excursion to the museum of the test site. Lunch. Trip to the “Opytnoe Pole” test site (125 km, 4 hours), where the first nuclear explosion made in 1949 with short-term stay on the spot. Way back to Kurchatov. Lunch.

Excursion to the ghost-town Shagan, where the aerodrome of long-range aviation was situated (120 km, about 3 hours). Dinner in Kurchatov.



Day 4

day travel distance: 290 kms

Central Kazakhstan – steppe

Breakfast. Trip to Karkaralinsk partly along the territory of the former Semipalatinsk test site through the mountain oases Yedrey and Ku (290 km, 7 hours). Short stops in the most picturesque places, lunch in the field. Arrival to Karkaralinsk. Accommodation and dinner.



Day 5

day travel distance: 218 kms

Monument in the Central Kazakh Steppe

Breakfast. Excursion around Karkaralinsk (sights of the Civil War period: general Kornilov house, 78 Communards memorial, people’s commissariat building etc.), excursion to the history museum, short excursion to the mountains (by request). Lunch.

Journey from Karkaralinsk to Karaganda (218 km, 4 hours). Accommodation in the hotel. Survey excursion around the city (Lenin monument, the Miners’ culture palace, Stanislavskiy theatre, city administration, “Chaika” hotel, Nurken Abdirov monument, Circus, industrial part of the city, old town). Dinner.


Day 6

day travel distance: 160 kms

Sowjet street art in Karaganda

Breakfast. A half-day trip to Dolinka village – the former center of the “Karlag” correctional labour camp (including excursion to the Museum of “Karlag”, Building of Former “Karlag” administration, Maternity hospital and “Mamochkino” child cemetery) and to the Spassk memorial, located in the place, where the former camp of prisoners of war was situated (total number of kilometres – 160).

Transfer back to Karaganda. Lunch. Excursion to the Karaganda Ecological Museum (1 hour). Free time, purchasing souvenirs. Dinner. Departure.

The cost of this program at four persons is €1,050 p.p. and at two persons €1,575 p.p. For other group sizes please write to us.
The above mentioned prices include:
– all the transfers by a 4WD minibus according to the program of the tour
– services of a driver and an English-speaking guide-interpreter
– accommodation in hotels (double or triple rooms)
– three meals a day
– entrance fees to museums as mentioned in the program
– security facilities on the territory of the test site (respirators, shoe covers).

The above mentioned prices do not include: visa expenses and consular fees, insurance, the price of getting to the starting point of the route (Astana city) and way back from Karaganda
Finally we withhold €15 per booking for the Dutch GGTO Travel Guarantee Fund.



Astana, Karaganda, Semipalatinsk




€1,050-1,575 p.p. at 4-2 persons


6 days